Ensuring an Affordable Jewish Education for Every Jewish Child

[eJP note: This article is part of a series focusing on new ideas emerging from the day school field with relevance for Jewish professionals in Jewish education and beyond. The post contributes to the conversation on the topic of 21st Century Education.]

by Jeff Kiderman

A year ago, the Affordable Jewish Education Project (AJE) was founded to solve the growing issues of day school affordability in North America. The goal is to demonstrate that it is possible to create new models of Jewish education that are simultaneously high-quality and low-cost, in order to ensure an affordable Jewish education for every Jewish child. AJE’s strategy includes working with new Jewish elementary day schools built on a blended learning model: online learning that is integrated with traditional face-to-face activities in a planned and pedagogically valuable manner. As this day school series transitions from focusing on affordability to looking at educational technology, this video interview of Jeff Kiderman, AJE’s Executive Director, raises some thought-provoking issues regarding the potential for a link between these two subjects, including:

Is blended learning really guaranteed to lower a school’s cost – and is this the only reason to embark on educational technology in your school?

Jeff speaks about the fact that technology can be used in ways that make education more affordable (particularly when combined with using staff more efficiently) – or it can be an added expense. Are there reasons beyond cost savings that schools would want to bring technology into the classroom? What are the advantages and the challenges in doing so?

How can all of us who are engaging in experiments in educational technology share information and best practices with one another in order to accelerate the progress and increase the cost-efficiency of our collective experimentation?

The area of online/blended learning is quite a new educational endeavor, both inside as well as outside the Jewish community. Jeff speaks about connecting blended learning schools so that they can learn from one another’s best practices and connecting parents and others interested in new blended schools in their communities to existing blended schools to learn about how it works in other places. What other opportunities exist for sharing and connecting?

Do you have thoughts about educational technology and how it is or could impact your community, for the sake of cost-savings or otherwise? What lessons, successes, or concerns have you encountered in implementing educational technology in your school?

Affordable Jewish Education Project (AJE) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure that a high quality, affordable Jewish education is available to everyone Jewish child. Through the identification and implementation of transformative ideas, AJE is developing a growing network of partner schools that is establishing a new standard of educational quality and affordability in Jewish education. AJE invests in, measures, and expands new and existing initiatives in schools in an effort to form a vision for affordable excellence in Jewish education institutions for the 21st century.

Jeff Kiderman is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of AJE. In this role he is helping both new and existing schools in their efforts to offer a high quality affordable Jewish education in a financially responsible and sustainable manner. He is a founding board member of Yeshivat He’atid and Westchester Torah Academy and works closely with all of AJE’s partner schools. Jeff attended the University of Pennsylvania and holds Bachelors of Science degrees in Management and Computer Science from the Wharton School and the School of Engineering & Applied Science, respectively. He is also pursuing a Masters degree in Innovative Education Models through Teachers College at Columbia University.