Or at least accoring to Rabbi Eli Monsour.
I was mass-forwarded an email this morning a letter from Rabbi Monsour, discussing why we should support the tuition tax credits for parents who send their kids to yeshivos.
If my understanding of this is correct, the general idea is that we should support a bill in the legislature that will provide a $500 tax credit to private school parents to help defray the rising costs of tuition. Certainly, that's how the bill is being presented to the members of the New York State Senate and Assembly - as a measure to help parents pay the costs of tuition.
However, I'm struck by the following paragraph in Rabbi Monsour's letter (bolding mine)
Needless to say, private school tuition costs are one of, if not the largest monetary burden facing our families. If this bill, which is coming before the New York State Legislature next month, were to pass, - the strain on many of our community?s organizations, including; the Sephardic Bikur Holim, the Sephardic Angel Fund, the Sephardic Food Fund, and even Sephardic SAFE, will be greatly reduced. Even our Yeshiva?s will be less pressured, as the need to provide student scholarships and discounted tuition costs will be sharply reduced.
In his first statement, Rabbi Monsour is certainly correct. Private school tuitions *are* one of the largest costs facing families that send their children to yeshivos, parochial or other private schools. However, by the time he gets to the last sentence, he seems to have forgotten the first. My understanding of his last sentence (and if you have a different interpretation, I'd like to hear it) is that yeshivos will be able to reduce scholarships that they provide to parents who can't afford it, because the parents will have extra money to pay. In other words, the bill that is supposed to provide monetary relief to families, in fact, will provide none. If the scholarships for families that have them will be reduced by the amount of the tax credit, then the net change in cost to the parent will be zero. That is not a relief for parents.
I find this all just a bit dishonest. If one wants to frame the bill as a measure to increase funding to schools, then by all means, frame it that way. But I find that framing it as a relief for parents when (as my reading of Rabbi Monsour's statements) in fact, the parents will see no real monetary benefit from it, is just dishonest.
I'm not necessarily opposed to the idea of additional funding for schools and students. But I believe that if that is the goal, it should be presented in that manner, and not as a bogus measure to provide relief to parents.
(cross-posted with entire text of email over at Hashkafah.com)