I think that it is time that the world of Jewish education in the United States recognized that its Day School model is facing a double threat. It is being threatened by the increase in its tuition and by the growth of the Hebrew Charter School movement. I would like to propose a solution in advance of the Hebrew Charter School movement making significant inroads.
The strongest argument in favor of Day Schools is the social environment that it presents. Parents who leave Jewish Day Schools in favor of Charter schools do so primarily because of money. Why cannot the Jewish Day Schools reduce their operating costs significantly by reducing the number of hours spent each day on Jewish Studies to two class hours; one class hour spent on Hebrew language and one class hour spent on Jewish Studies subjects on a rotating basis; Talmud on Monday, Chumasch on Tuesday, Navi on Wednesday and Talmud on Thursday or in the alternative, create one class that incorporates all the Jewish Studies subjects except for Hebrew language. Why give Hebrew language skills priority and not Talmud? Because it is a skill that Day School should be able to teach and it is a skill that will allow a student to pursue independent study as he advances in age. I am not confident at all that Day Schools are successful in teaching Talmud. (Shall we poll the Israeli Yeshivot to learn how well prepared Day School graduates are?) If you are going to reduce your school hours, spend the time on what you are confident you can teach.
I am estimating that reducing the Jewish Studies program in half would result in a one-third cost savings. It would also result in a shorter school day that should further reduce costs. Are there no parents who would welcome a one-third reduction in their tuition bill?