The challenge for U.S. Jewish day schools is to succeed even as tuition sticker shock is an ongoing reality for families. But there was a spirit of passion, commitment, and can-do optimism among the 1,100 attendees in Atlanta this week at the second biennial conference of Prizmah, the center for Jewish day schools.
The theme was “Dare To Dream” and the participants had numerous opportunities during the three-day meeting to network, share successes and failures, and collaborate on potential projects that encompass innovative learning as well as fund-raising strategies.
Prizmah was launched in 2016 as a unique merger of five leading day-school organizations representing different religious streams, and the organization has a new four-part strategic plan to help schools attract talented educators; catalyze resources for funding; accelerate innovation and experimentation in the classroom; and create a network of learning.
Recent trends around the country show that day schools in smaller communities are struggling the most and some have closed, as have a number of Solomon Schechter schools. Orthodox schools are holding steady and thriving in some cases. The number of blended learning schools, which offer reduced tuition and emphasize online learning, is increasing. And more schools are looking to philanthropy to keep afloat.
Overall, day school graduates continue to play a disproportionately significant role in Jewish leadership positions in the community, an indication that the “quality quotient” of a day school education is immeasurable.