Monday, August 7, 2017

Should Every School Accept Every Child? 4 Links

לזכות שמואל אלכסנדר בן נעכא גיטל 

Ruchie Frier is an impressive lady. She is Chasidish and a judge [link - maybe a discussion for another time] in the Brooklyn court system and tries to make a Kiddush Hashem whever she goes. Judge Frier is very involved personally in helping kids at risk and ALL THE POWER TO HER!!! She wrote this article on the recent drug overdose of Malki Klein, blaming the schools for rejecting her. 

Let us see [all italicized words from her]. 

She writes:  The Chazon Ish said that a decision to expel a child is Dinei Nefoshos and halachically requires a Bais Din of 23 members.

I have a question. Let us say that a student is selling drugs in the yeshiva - is it forbidden to expel him?? He is bringing girls into the dorm? Would the Chazon Ish say to keep him??? OF COURSE NOT. There are circumstances where we must expel [or not accept] a student. The question is - "What are the circumstances??"

She continues:  The Torah relates that a Bais Din that killed once in 70 years was considered a Bais Din of murderers. Yet our system has resulted in approximately 70 deaths in less than one year due to rejection, despite the fact that so many sources do not support this policy.

I think it is very harsh to blame the system for 70 deaths. These kids didn't die because they lacked an education. They died [I am guessing] either from drug overdoses or suicide. It would be safe to assume that in some of the cases the schools had a good reason for not accepting the child. And even if they didn't - nobody forced the kids to harm themselves. Maybe the schools bear SOME responsibility but calling them murderers is going too far. 

She continues: In the Gemara, Bava Basra (21a) R’ Shmuel Bar Shilas, an Amoira who was an educator in his time, stated that the student who does not study or behave appropriately, should not be tortured or expelled. Rather, he should be kept together with the other students for ultimately he will turn around. The Rishonim, such as Nimokei Yosef, use even stronger language saying t [hat it is prohibited to send off such a student, even on the possibility that it will set his heart in the right place. The Maharsha (in Ruach HaKodesh) writes that keeping the child where he is, will be a big benefit for the other students.

Free pizza for anyone who can tell me how to find the "Maharsha in Ruach Hakodesh". But that is not the point. She is not obligated to know anything about the Maharsha or even look at what he wrote. She is busy. But let us understand the gemara.

וא"ל רב לרב שמואל בר שילת כי מחית לינוקא לא תמחי אלא בערקתא דמסנא, דקארי - קארי. דלא קארי  - ליהוי צוותא לחבריה.

Rav said to Rav Shmuel Bar Shilas [not that "Rav Shmuel Bar Shilas said" as she quoted] when you strike a student, you should only do so with a shoe lace [so that it doesn't hurt]. If he learns - then he learns [great!]. If he doesn't learn - let him be company for his friends. 

Rashi says to keep him because in the end he will understand. Are we talking about a student who is a bad influence on others? No. We are talking about a student who is having trouble understanding. Let him have a social environment. School is not just about academic learning but also about making friends. But less us say that he is a bad influence on others. We should keep him so that he will have friends? On the contrary - we DON'T WANT such a kid around. If for example he sells drugs or gets the other kids to watch filthy movies and refuses to cease - should he remain?? Would you want such a child around yours??? 

And let us say that the child has a learning disability? In the end he WON'T get it. This is an advanced gemara class and trying to understand what is beyond his capability will drive him to suicide ח"ו. Rashi says that we accept him because in the end he WILL get it. But that is not always the case.      

As for the Maharsha - he says that when the other students see him not coming to school, they will think "great - why don't I do that" and also play hookey. So we should keep him. But let us say he is a rotten apple? What should we do then??

And the honorable judge goes on with some nice vorts and divrei Torah trying to prove that we should accept all children - see there. 

There is another problem here - not every school is equipped to take every child. I know a very frum family in the NY area who has a number of kids with heavy learning disabilities. They go to non-Jewish schools that cost about 60k a year [makes yeshiva seem cheap...]. Why? Because the yeshiva day schools are not equipped to educate these children. Not the end of the world. The kids LOVE their schools. 

So there are at least two issues here. 1]  Some kids who shouldn't be accepted because they endanger others by being a negative influence. When I was kid, I was in school and camp with some kids who were HORRIFIC influences. I like to think that I remained religious but I am also a fiercely independent person and have always been so I was less susceptible. But what about the sweet innocent kids who are followers? Some of my classmates were very, very פוגם ברית. Others had filthy mouths. Yet others were on the roof of the school smoking weed. And so on and so forth. Would you want YOUR kids to be around such kids?  

2] Some kids have such severe learning disabilities that keeping them in the school will be harmful to them, to the school and to the other kids [because they will be held back]. 

So what should be done?? As a community we should make sure that every child is accounted for. Every child is given a chance to learn. Every child is made to feel loved and special. Not every kid is going to MIT and not every kid is destined for Med. School but every kid deserves a chance. 

This will cost money because they will have to create educational frameworks for kids at risk and for those with learning disabilities. I wonder how much money the many blamers all over the internet give to help kids at risk?? Like they used to say in the park "Put you money where your mouth is." We need re$ource$ and educators [who exist and are ready and waiting] to solve this problem. 

So my suggestion is that instead of pointing fingers and blaming we instead think of constructive ways to help these kids in order to help prevent more future tragedies. The answer is not forcing every school to accept every child. 

In conclusion - let us see what Rav Moshe Feinstein ztz"l says. It would be a big mistake to discuss this issue without referring to halachic literature. It would seem that with all of the respect we have for Judge Frier, since we are dealing with halacha and not American law, the correct address would be the writings of the poskim and gedolei hador. [Rav Moshe lived just minutes away from her]:

   And see here and here