New Paradigm of Chinuch
1) It seems that chinuch is ridiculously expensive, especially for a large family. A family with 6 children, paying just $5000 per child, would have to pony up $30,000 each and every year. That's a brand new sportscar, each and every year. This is after tax, so the family would have to earn 45,000 - 60,000 to pay that. Then of course there are the sundry fees per child, amounting to another 2-3 K. And the family has to live. Then there is boarding costs, school supplies, enough already!
2) Chinuch is limited by hashkafa. Even in fairly large cities, there is this or that hashkafa, but most families are not in total agreement with the hashkafa the children get.
3) The mechanchim in town are the ones you get.
4) G-d forbid your child has an actual need for something more than a cookie cutter education. Too smart (as posted on mentalblog), ADHD, slow or whatever. Difference is bad.
In the past, we had little choice. School admins fielded a team of mechanchim and set a tone of hashkafa that most widely acceptable in the community. The golden rule was then applied to make that hashkafa the most profitable. (Note: Rebel's dictionary, Golden Rule - He that has the gold makes the rule.) The school struggles, the families struggle, and everybody is happy with their nisayon mashalim, mesiras nefesh for chinuch or whatever rationalizations they have until people realize that they cannot take a 4th mortgage on their home for this year.
The New Paradigm
Chinuch can be divided into these parts:
1) Delivery - the mechanich delivers the material to the talmid
2) Socialization - the talmid interacts with other talmidim
3) Discipline - the talmid gets attitude properly adjusted
4) Hashpa'a - the talmid gets a warm mushy feeling for his Rebbi
5) Hashkafa - the talmid learns what his parents want him to learn
The solutions could be framed as follows:
1) Online delivery - Mechanchim develop courses that are delivered by computer. You do not need to have the Internet, if you do not want it! Mechanchim are entrepeneurs that sell their courses to school curriculum guides. These guides help parents build a set of courses that fit with their aims and the talmid's level. A talmid in Los Angeles could learn from the best gemora teacher in Buenos Aires. Chumash is important to you? How about a Rashi expert in Leeds.
2) Socialization - Courses are delivered through home school networks, which also provide socializations networks. Alternately, schools can be held in cubicle style buildings, where students congregate. The school is run by proctors and tutors, not teachers. Teh schedules can be synchronized to maximize socialization opportunities and communal activities like davening, lunch and recess.
3) Discipline - Each course is selfpaced, and the adults in the learning center are proctors. Hence, one disruptive student cannot hold up everyone, and a teacher does not have to stop teaching to deal with a discipline problem. Many teachers report that this occupies much of their day.
4) Hashpa'a - Regular contact, personal visits, email, telephone, even video conference, can be arranged with teachers that deliver the material and with local Jewish community leaders. The circle widens for the talmidim, even in smaller towns.
5) Hashkafa - No need for a one size fits all hashkafa. You want all day limudei kodesh in Yiddish? You got it! Science and math concentration? No problem. Chumash focused on the drasha of Reb Chaim Yankel Whomever, with no references to Darwin or chalav Akum? You get my drift.
Given the wider competition, the more efficient use of professionals (teachers for teaching and hashpa'a, discpliners for disciplining), the more flexible environment, the cost would drop to a fraction of what is acceptable now. No need to board, keep the kids home. Imagine, a 14 year old living at home! Larger student bases mean less cost per student, radically less. One teacher can handle gaggles more students and be a better mashpia when he does not have to be en guarde constantly for spitballs.
This is the concept in short. It is working all over the world as more and more schools go to this model. If we can make a form of this work in the Jewish community, we could solve one of the great trials of our times. Will the status quo hawks squawk? You bet they will. They will fight tooth and nail and assur, ban, cherem and whatever else they have in their arsenal. But this idea takes dozens of people working together to fulfill a goal. And that begins with people who share a vision and are fed up enough to make radical changes.