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We welcome ideas, evidence and opinions to enrich the community conversation about our Jewish schools. All comments will be moderated, and disrespectful posts will not be published. The Working Group also reserves the right not to publish comments that identify particular schools or individuals.

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  1. rburdo says:
    There are two issues which are the implication of the current situation in Victoria, which may impact the future of Jewish education here. Are they taken into account?

    1. Quite a few Jewish families with kids are considering leaving Victoria for at least a few years after all what we’ve been through. The burden of losing two school years, mental health damage and economical damage is too big to burden any more – and given the attitude of this government, it may repeat. Add to these employees who have no income now due to the vaccination mandate.

    2. Even without Covid, the Victorian government and bureaucracy are not the best friends of private schools. Given their Marxist/woke ideology, it is not impossible that the state will make the lives of private schools harder – whether by cutting budgets, interfering with the curriculum or other restrictions, in order to push parents to the public system.
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    There are two issues which are the implication of the current situation in Victoria, which may impact the future of Jewish education here. Are they taken into account? 1. Quite a few Jewish families with kids are considering leaving Victoria for at least a few years after all what we’ve been through. The burden of losing two school years, mental health damage and economical damage is too big to burden any more – and given the attitude of this government,...
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  2. rburdo says:
    Hi,

    I know this is not the place to discuss politics, but the future of Melbourne’s Jewish day schools depends on the political situation.

    First, I hear recently about more and more Jewish families with kids who are planning to leave Victoria, whether for a few years of permanently, following all the pain and distress cause by the Victorian government during the last 18 months – the loss of almost two school years, the horrible mental health damage to kids and adults alike due to the long and strict lockdowns, the economic damage – and the estimation that Victoria will have more of that. More families leaving mean less students. in addition to all the trends which are regularly discussed in this forum.

    Another issue is the future of private schools and faith-based school in particular in Victoria. Given the progressive/Marxist/woke ideology which is dominant in the government and bureaucracy here, it is possible that during the next few years we’ll see erosion of the freedoms and the resources that the Jewish school have – whether this is less funding, coercion of agendas which contradicts the ethos of these schools, and generally putting pressure on the system in order to push students out to the public system. If this (G-d forbid) happens, all our efforts may be in vain.
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    Hi, I know this is not the place to discuss politics, but the future of Melbourne’s Jewish day schools depends on the political situation. First, I hear recently about more and more Jewish families with kids who are planning to leave Victoria, whether for a few years of permanently, following all the pain and distress cause by the Victorian government during the last 18 months – the loss of almost two school years, the horrible mental health damage to kids...
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  3. Hopeful parent says:
    In terms of cost, the Jewish schools in focus here are on par or in excess of Melb’s elite independent schools. As such, they are selective schools that offer a small proportion (20-25%) of students whose socio-economic bracket is below this, the opportunity to attend at a reduced rate. What is the experience like for this minority of students who take this path? I don’t know the answer but I suspect there are some negatives. This is why I feel this is not the right choice for our family. Perhaps others feel the same. I feel that we have lost sight of what our ancestors set out to do in establishing these schools – to provide a Jewish education, and the focus has moved more toward VCE scores. Opening up our schools to greater economic diversity will require a huge shift. I watch with great interest and wish you every success to make this a reality for our great community.
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    In terms of cost, the Jewish schools in focus here are on par or in excess of Melb’s elite independent schools. As such, they are selective schools that offer a small proportion (20-25%) of students whose socio-economic bracket is below this, the opportunity to attend at a reduced rate. What is the experience like for this minority of students who take this path? I don’t know the answer but I suspect there are some negatives. This is why I feel...
    More
  4. Seraphya says:
    A focus on excellence in Jewish education, does not demand a Jewish full day school.
    While children should be taught certain Jewish subjects separately by ideology, there is no reason not to have greater mixing for secular subjects as well as some Jewish subjects such as Hebrew. While some might not want their children learning Gemara or Yiddish, or want an approach to tanakh that suits their ideology, that isn’t a reason to completely sever Jewish studies from different schools. There should just be options for which ideology or subject students enroll in.

    Doing things this way would mean that students who went to state schools could be included in the Jewish schools as well. If parents don’t want to pay for private school for secular subjects but don’t want to miss out on the opportunities of a high level of Jewish learning and a Jewish peer group they would have the option to join a Jewish school for Jewish studies. This unbundling will allow those who want a Jewish school experience but don’t want to spend the money on a full private school or feel the financial pressure of scraping by with communal assistance for a full private school, when they weren’t after a private school, but a Jewish school to stay in or join the system.
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    A focus on excellence in Jewish education, does not demand a Jewish full day school. While children should be taught certain Jewish subjects separately by ideology, there is no reason not to have greater mixing for secular subjects as well as some Jewish subjects such as Hebrew. While some might not want their children learning Gemara or Yiddish, or want an approach to tanakh that suits their ideology, that isn’t a reason to completely sever Jewish studies from different schools....
    More
  5. Karen Diamond says:
    In regard to the VCE school concept. In the event that this model picks up momentum, I am concerned that the topic of this conversation implicitly eliminates the VCAL, VET and IB options without having thoroughly evaluated and included all their relative merits. A community school needs to accommodate the vast needs of a student body. In my opinion, calling this a “VCE school” makes some unhealthy assumptions at this early stage of deliberations. Perhaps refer to it as the “Years 10-12 campus”, or “Senior Secondary Campus” for now?
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    In regard to the VCE school concept. In the event that this model picks up momentum, I am concerned that the topic of this conversation implicitly eliminates the VCAL, VET and IB options without having thoroughly evaluated and included all their relative merits. A community school needs to accommodate the vast needs of a student body. In my opinion, calling this a “VCE school” makes some unhealthy assumptions at this early stage of deliberations. Perhaps refer to it as the...
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    1. Site Manager says:

      Thanks Karen for your suggestion. Will be interested to see how many others also share the same thoughts.

  6. Leonie Ben-Simon says:
    ALTERNATIVE CHANGES:
    1. Changing the physical model
    2. An online curriculum for many children not in the school catchment area
    3. Reallocate funds now leaving for overseas
    4. Increasing the birth-rate
    DETAILS BELOW
    1. Replacing the current school model for senior students
    Traditional Jewish instruction by parents was done for thousands of years. Now we have expensive buildings, small classrooms, expensive teachers and facilities. This model could be redundant in the future, particularly for senior school studies and should be reconsidered in light of the technology available. A visit to the new RMIT library in Swanston Street in Melbourne shows floors of a completely online library with no books, rather desks where each student is working on their own laptop and can access books and discuss with other students and tutors online.
    I envisage university-style lecture halls rather than small classrooms for twenty or so students, designed for hundreds of secondary students with one lecturer, whiteboards and videos with a set curriculum that can be repeated. Turning the current model on its head to save costs is imperative and should be considered when designing the new campus in Kooyong Road, as should use of space by building upwards. At present each teacher in every school is “babysitting” small classes, when in many cases online lecturing in many subjects is a feasible alternative. Note that the education department in Israel was aware of the discrepancy in the levels of education between the centre of the country and the periphery. One solution that they have begun is to beam lessons online from the best teachers to the whole of the country enabling standards to rise in the periphery which has traditionally been disadvantaged. A consolidation of secondary schools can take online subject learning into classes in all schools, or even immediately to save teachers’ salaries. These lessons can be saved and repeated every year. Practically there are concerns about the input into students who are struggling. After-school tutorials with teachers can be made available when this happens to identify students who need direction, whilst socialisation can occur in the playgrounds and during sporting activities.
    2. An Online Curriculum
    This generation of children are all computer literate. Note that many families with school-age children have already moved outside the catchment area of our existing Jewish schools. We now have families in Patterson Lakes, The Dandenongs, Suth Oakleigh, outer and regional areas of Australia. There is an online curriculum that has been trialled in the US now being prepared for Australia by Dina Liberow of Hamerkaz Shelanu. This can address and possibly replace UJEB who currently cannot reach all of the schools where our Jewish children study.
    3. Reallocate funds now leaving for overseas
    The “Code of Jewish Law” – The Shulchan Aruch advises a donor that “the poor of his family precede the poor of his city, and the poor of his city take precedence over the poor of another city.” There are worthy causes everywhere. However each community must educate its children in preference to sending money overseas. That money is needed here urgently.
    4. Our dismal birth-rate – will we change the rules to become family-friendly?
    We should all follow the example of the school that encourages families to have children and educate them by allowing a family fee rate. As we assimilate and take on the values of the host society we ape the local birth-rate which is now under 2 children per family. The end-game shown by the statistical projections will be a collapse of the jewels of our community, our schools leaving only the orthodox sector as most families are limiting their size. Birth control in our community is commonly called: School Fees. Let us change this.
    CONCLUSION
    It is not every man for himself. We are obliged to care for not only our widows and the elderly, but also for the community’s children. There is enough money in this community to give that extra right here. It will be a shame if this discussion drags on for another two years. Children need to be included now.
    Leonie Ben-Simon MBA
    leoniebensimon@gmail.com
    0425 748 665
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    ALTERNATIVE CHANGES: 1. Changing the physical model 2. An online curriculum for many children not in the school catchment area 3. Reallocate funds now leaving for overseas 4. Increasing the birth-rate DETAILS BELOW 1. Replacing the current school model for senior students Traditional Jewish instruction by parents was done for thousands of years. Now we have expensive buildings, small classrooms, expensive teachers and facilities. This model could be redundant in the future, particularly for senior school studies and should be...
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    1. Site Manager says:

      Thanks for your comments. These points raise some valid and interesting discussion topics. Please ensure to fill out our survey.