Factors in parental choice: Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jewish day schools
Hilsenrath, Baruch Mordechai
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This study is an attempt to identify predictive factors in parental choice between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jewish Day Schools. More than 650 families from four communities representing eight schools responded to a questionnaire which addressed original motivations for choosing the school, reasons for not choosing the alternative school, personal religious observance, religious affiliation and general goals of Jewish Day Schools. Findings should be generalized only to comparable communities.;On analysis, distinctive "push" and "pull" factors emerged. The findings exhibit significant differences between Orthodox and non-Orthodox schools and between Orthodox and non-Orthodox parents within each school, in educational goals and priorities and also in religious observance and practice. Parents in non-Orthodox day schools place greater emphasis upon elements that are reflective of an Independent private school, namely quality general studies, class size and teacher/pupil ratio. Parents in the Orthodox schools place a high priority upon Judaic and general studies although neither ranked as high as the priority of general studies in the non-Orthodox schools. In both schools parents considered warm environment and moral values as very important "pull" factors.;In relation to "push" factors, parents in non-Orthodox schools are seriously concerned about the religious environment in the Orthodox schools and somewhat concerned about the quality of the general studies program. Parents in the Orthodox schools are seriously concerned about the quality of Judaic textual studies, concerned about the religious environment and somewhat concerned about the Hebrew language program in non-Orthodox schools. Parents in Orthodox schools place a higher priority on learning about the Jewish religion than on Jewish culture, the reverse of parents in the non-Orthodox schools.;Significant differences occur in relation to observances including Kosher laws, Shabbat, synagogue attendance and donations to charity. Parents in the Orthodox schools, including the non-Orthodox parents, are more likely to observe these practices and parents in the non-Orthodox schools, including the Orthodox parents, are less likely to observe. Donating to U.J.A. is an exception to these findings: non-Orthodox parents in the non-Orthodox schools are more likely to give. Analyses of grandparental affiliation, parental Jewish schooling and travel to school was also carried out.