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November 15, 1985 - Image 28

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-11-15

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Friday, November 15, 1985 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Bea Kreichman, principal at UHS' Adat Shalom branch, gives Bradley Stolar a helping hand.

"Kids and parents
saw their bar mitzvah
as the end of their
Jewish education."
Dr. Feinberg

Dr. Paul Feinberg

Joseph Poisson

congregational teachers do not pos-
sess JESNA certificates or licenses,
most of them are licensed by the
public school systems — which
maintain a rather open-ended
standard, according to education
Rabbi Teller credits the central
control of UHS for the higher caliber
of its staff. "Detroit and Minneapolis
are the only cities that do it this
way," explains Teller. "But cen-
trality allows us to maintain control
over the curriculum. We can demand
more of our teachers, and demand
that they be better trained, and of
course we have central funding."
Federation sources are now prepar-
ing to extend their funding and
therefore influence into the indepen-
dent sphere by financing special
projects to upgrade synagogue

schools. The prospect is held out that
nearly all of Detroit's religious
school teachers will be licensed or
certified. That would place Detroit
ahead of all other communities in
the nation in terms of credentials.
Naturally, what teachers do with
their credentials is not measured in
hours of credit, as much as years of
UHS efforts are welcomed by
many in the independent schools.
Joseph Poisson, director of education
of Temple Israel's school, the largest
in Detroit with 1,500 students
enrolled in four branches, admitted,
The Federation believes a national
(JESNA) certificate is a must. And I
agree. So we are prepared to cooper-
ate." But Poisson is unwilling to
speculate whether UHS schools are
qualitatively any better than inde-

pendents — certification or not.
You can't make a blanket state-
ment. They have several schools,
and their quality varies on a case-
by-case basis."
Rabbi Teller, however, is con-
vinced that community-controlled
schools are the right idea, if for no
other reason than their insulated
structure. "Independent schools must
be responsible to the needs and feel-
ings of parents," explained Rabbi
Teller. Of course, we are also. But a
curriculum, for example, cannot be
changed because one parent may ob-
ject. To change a curriculum re-
quires review by a curriculum com-
mittee on which are represented
teachers, parents and community
Poisson responds, "Parental poli-
tics is parental politics. We have it.
They have it."
Politics or not, no one denies
that Federation control does elimi-
nate the "funding headache," as Mrs.
Kreichman phrased it. According to
Rabbi Teller, of the $20 million plus
local Campaign budget, about
$900,000 funds UHS schools. But to
this must be added another $1 mil-
lion appropriated for the Jewish
Community Center pre-school and
about $650,000 for day schools and
other educational activities. That
amounts to about ten cents out of
every local campaign dollar to pro-
mote Jewish education.
While Detroit's central funding
has produced a highly professional
minority waiting to extend its influ-
ence, other cities are just starting.
For example, Baltimore's teachers
are encouraged to enroll tuition-free
in accredited courses at Baltimore
Hebrew College. A $150 stipend is
awarded for each course passed with
a B or better. Additional cash
bonuses and salary supplements are
earned at various levels of certifica-
tion. (Various levels of certification
ultimately lead to a fully-licensed
teacher under guidelines of the Na-
tional Board of Licensing and Cer-
Other communities are waiting
to see how Baltimore's program
works before embarking on a similar
effort. Nonetheless JESNA recently
studied Baltimore's programs and
gave them wholehearted support.
"The fact is, they're nifty," says
David Resnick, JESNA's acting
executive vice president. "There is
nothing wrong with paying teachers
to take additional training. Private
business spends hundreds of millions
of dollars each year, including pay-
ments to employees, to take in-
service training. Why shouldn't
Jewish education do the same for its
teachers?" Even still, the question of
cash bonuses is sufficiently touchy
that some top Baltimore education

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