David Benkof #fundie blogs.timesofisrael.com

While many American Jews have been big backers of public schools, our current system discriminates against traditionally religious Americans through what I call "the frum tax." (Frum is Yiddish for observant.)

Here's how the frum tax works: If you're secular and want to educate your children with your own values, it's free. But if you're frum, it costs tens of thousands of dollars to do the same thing. That's discrimination.


And no, the public schools are not "values-neutral." Public schools take strong stances on issues about which Americans differ. A version of American history built around the themes of race, class, and gender is not "neutral." There are many ways to teach our nation's history, such as focusing on the growth of capitalism, or on the contributions of great men. Jews from Orthodox sects that believe the Earth is less than 6,000 years old don't want to pay both for (public) schools that reject that view - and for (religious) schools that support it.

It's not the government's business to decide which historiographical or cosmological ideas are correct - and to confiscate money from citizens who have the "wrong" views in order to promulgate the "right" ones.


Three years ago, the school district of Ramapo, New York, elected a school board with a Hasidic majority. Ramapo includes cities such as Monsey and New Square that are heavily populated by Orthodox Jews. Since the state's educational structure massively discriminates against such voters - taking their money while barely helping their children's education - the board began to make cuts to security staff, sports teams, AP classes, and more.

The school board has been attacked for its "selfishness" and lack of community-mindedness. But if secular students in the district are now being treated unfairly, the frum majority living there has suffered too - and for a much longer time. Good for the Orthodox voters in the area for upholding America's founding principles of "No taxation without representation."

I hope frum people and their equivalents in other faiths will start following the Ramapo model. Join me in voting against any increased taxes for public schools, and in electing school board members who support spending only for the bare minimum (math, science, language arts, and social studies) - until the system stops discriminating against us. And since the idea of a "neutral" public school is a myth, we should pressure elected officials to choose textbooks spreading our beliefs, not those of our ideological opponents.



So were we! You can find all of this, and more, on Fundies Say the Darndest Things!

To post a comment, you'll need to Sign in or Register. Making an account also allows you to claim credit for submitting quotes, and to vote on quotes and comments. You don't even need to give us your email address.