Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Getting into HS

I became frum somewhere in the middle of eigth grade. I basically suspected that I'd be going to a private school. Mom knew that the yeshiva system was mostly full of crappy education schools, but we (well my Rabbi and ourselves) made it a mission to find a decent school for me to go to. If that weren't hard enough, I needed a school that would agree to making me a flexible schedule, because I finished 9th grade with all but one class.

None of the schools I applied to wanted to even give me an interview when my mom and/or Rabbi made the initial calls. Why would they want to accept a PS kid? One school gave me an interview rather quickly and they loved me, cuz I'm so frum looking :), and education wise it was fairly ok. They even said that they'd send me straight to 10th grade and just give me a tutor for hebrew and the one secular class I was missing.

Rabbi and Mom didnt really want me going to that school though. Education was not known to be very good; so since other schools didn't want to interview, Rabbi just told my mom to fax copy of my report card :-). Sure enough both schools that initially declined me the opportunity of an interview, decided "hey, why not?"

School #1 was wack. I wanted to get in so badly that I basically learned Rashi over one weekend. I went for the interview with mom. They sent me to take the entrance exams- one in english and one in math, in the noisy school library. When I was done, mom and I waited outside the principals office for about 30 minutes. Got an interview with the Hebrew principal first, where he tested the Chumash/Rashi. Was rather nervous, but if I remember correctly, I did pretty well. He asked me and mom a few questions and then sent me to the secular studies principal.

She was a rather interesting lady. She was very snobby and wore way too much make up. She asked me a few questions and implied that I did well on the exams. Then she told us (mom and me) to step out (prob to discuss with hebrew principal). They call us back into the office, and say that since my hebrew was not good they'd put me in a low hebrew class (as if I expected anything else), but, since the low hebrew class has low english, and the schedules cannot be played with, I'd have to take 9th grade hebrew classes and only one secular class (the one I didn't have credits for).

Mom and I were like "WTH?!" When dad heard later, he was like "there is no way i'm paying THAT much for her to sit around and not have a schedule full of classes.

so that was the end of school #1.

Then I went to school #2 for an interview. From the beginning it seemed obvious the Principal didn't like us- she was holding our deposit check to return to us. We were honest, told her our house wasn't kosher yet (duh, we had just become frum, we were getting used to avoiding treif, how were we supposed to separate dishes that quickly?). Then she tells us, the dumbest thing ever "Well, if you were to become a student at this school it would be inevitable that you make freinds. How would your friends visit your home if its not kosher?"

Mom was like "these are 14 year old girls, not little kids, they'll know not to eat anything from our pots and pans and to only eat take-out on disposable dishes, its not like we'll lie."

Principal was like "Can't have that in the school."

And rejected me. What a biotch!!!

So anyway, It came down to going to 10th grade in an "okay" education school or going to 9th at a good education school , but not actually doing anything in 9th grade.

Boy was my family miserable.

Sure enough a few weeks later (we had already left a deposit for 10th grade school at this point) and my Rabbi remembers about the program at a certain school that is catered to non-frum or becoming-frum girls. He got me an interview with the program's principal, and sure enough, I got accepted. Seemed all good 'cause they lied to me about their curriculum options (But thats for another post. :)). And so, I went to that school and we lost the deposit for the 10th grade starting one.

Eitherway, the point of the story, is how messed up it is to get into a frum school. Why are they such sticklers when it comes to accepting people from Public School if they're obviously on the path to becoming frum? I mean, seriously, I am like one of the most typical frum looking girls you will ever meet, I don't yell unless you already know me, and I follow rules, never had a bad record, none of that. Yet, they wouldn't accept me.

Stupid people. This is the reason for the downfall of the frum people. They're so damn stupid when it comes to acceptance. Its all about tablecloth colors and type of gefilte fish. They never ever see the forest for the trees.

Ohh..and the weirdest thing is that schools #1 and #2 were SUPER modern.


offthederech said...

>Stupid people. This is the reason for the downfall of the frum people. They're so damn stupid when it comes to acceptance. Its all about tablecloth colors and type of gefilte fish. They never ever see the forest for the trees.

That's what happens when you're stuck in the 15th century.

Jessica said...

What is it with modern schools? You'd think they'd be more accepting... I applied to two schools when I became frum. Had an interview with the modern school, but they said that my hebrew wasn't good and they DIDN'T OFFER TUTORING! What a load of crap! I ended up going to the other school and am very happy that I did. It was an extremely warm environment and I made a lot of great friends. Oh, and one of my friends switched from my school to the more modern school... and was tutored when she went there...

Ophir said...

Do you mean Modern Yeshivish or Modern Orthodox? I have a hard time believing that those schools were MO. Were they co-ed?

frumskeptic said...

ophir- One was co-ed.

frumskeptic said...

Jessica- that is stupid that they ended up tutoring her. Whats the point? They should've just accepted you and her to begin with!

Child Ish Behavior said...

It all works out for the best in the end. Groucho Marx said that he wouldn't join any club that accepted him. By virtue of accepting him they showed that they weren't worth going to. In order to prove to themselves that they are schools and institutions worth going to don't they at least have to make a show at rejecting everyone out of hand. After all who would want to go to a place that is the easiest to get into. It's the places that have high standards that are the ones that are worth going to. I went to an elementary school that was very accepting of everyone. In the end the school practically closed down because the only people who wanted to go to the school were the people that got rejected by all the others. An Ivy league institution will not stay ivy league for long if they allow everyone in, they will end up becoming a community college.

frumskeptic said...

childish- Obviously the schools cannot accept e/o. But that is why they have the interview process and the ability to expel me if I don't live up to whatever expectations they had.

I wasn't literally right off the street from P.S.- well ok, I was. But I had a hebrew school background, and a Rabbi, who was ORTHODOX (not a conservative or reform guy), who obviously would've mentored/tutored me through the entire freshman year if I needed him.

Its not like my parents decided they didn't want me in school with black people so they chose to transfer me to yeshiva (thats mostly why schools like BHI and Nefesh exist. lol). It was obviously legit. I had a story and e/t on how I became frum, and we were frum (by our early standards) for a while!

Child Ish Behavior said...

Once a place allows you in it is very difficult to expel you. It is worse to expel someone for not living up to some sort of elusive hard to explain standards then just not accept them altogether. In the public school system the procedure for firing a union teacher is tedious to say the least. The person will bring down lawyers etc to prove the case fore staying on. In the case of accepting someone for schooling the same applies. However, with schooling the control rests with the school to accept or not. After acceptance control is in the the hands of the student. If the school wants the person gone it is much harder to bring about.

Jessica said...

ophir - the school that lied to me about tutoring was co-ed. Modern orthodoxy isn't perfect...

child ish - the city that I'm from doesn't have many options for Jewish day schools. It would be foolish for the schools in my community to turn away people because they would end up going out of town.... unless, of course, they want the community to shrink and eventually become obsolete.

Child Ish Behavior said...

Jessica- In NYC with the huge amount of choices available they can afford to be choosy.

frumskeptic said...

childish- Again, I dont think they should have linient standards, but atleast have a thorough interview process and be willing to accept people in.

Practice what you preach.

You beleive in tshuva? Yes. Then accept students who are in the process of making it.

All I wanted was english to be taken care of and for the lowest level of hebrew education they offer. Why was it hard?

Also, Just cuz its NYC doesn't mean the community will be around forever. Modern ppl are leaving the city and/or frumming up and sending kids to frummer schools. These schools cannot afford it, maybe more than Jessica's school could, but not much more

Mikeinmidwood said...

I laugh now when I hear the rabbi say look at how many children are being lost to public school. So except them!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, well look at Lakewood, the Chassidish, Heimish, Litvish can't get get their children into elementary or high school. They aren't taking anyone. (and I knw people in every bracket above that is/was in this situation.

People are elitist for no reason other than what the other person will say. In psychlogical terms we call it "inferiority complex" which in compensated by a "superiority complex"

Katie said...

I just don't get it, how a school would not accept a fellow Jew. Obviously the family is making an effort to become frum, & if the kid has good grades (and no history of drugs or juv. hall lol), what other criteria could there possibly be?
That's why I regard lubavitchers on a really, really high level... they're the ones who try to bring Judaism to others...

Jessica said...

child ish - right, but it's not just happening in NY...

The Babysitter said...

"Mom knew that the yeshiva system was mostly full of crappy education schools,"

I think this is the problem, or reason why you believe the way you do. A lot of it is because that's what "Mom" says. No offense or anything. But your already seeing things through your Mom's eyes without actually having a chance to experience it your own way. Perhaps things aren't so bad as you thought they were. I mean this is before you started Yeshiva Education, how can you know for yourself that it would be not inferior? from hearsay? As a kid I remember everyone complaining about school, how our school was the worst...but really it's just kids talking, they would feel guilty liking school, they would think of themselves as a neb, so the "cool" people were the ones who had L"H to say about the school.

Yea, you are frum looking :-)

I wouldn't say it's anything personal against you that they didn't accept you. They were just worried about the school, that their not so qualified or capable, or used to dealing with new situations. They saw it as a challenge.

The school's that are super Modern perhaps were afraid that you would become extremely frum since you were just on the start, so they didn't want your future potential frum ideas to influence other students, lol.

I had people in my school from all kinds of backgrounds, I think.

The Babysitter said...

Off the Derech: I don't think the 15th century were all materialistic and cared about what color table cloths people used.

Jessica: I guess the more modern school's see themselves as more strict on who they take in because they see themselves as more perfect, a higher education with a reputation, kinda thing. But that was mean that they said they didn't have tutoring for you, but they had for your friend. Unless perhaps they changed and the year she went they decided to have tutors.

Frum Skeptic: I was wondering why you didn't try Nefesh, is it really just a substitute for PS? I had a girl in my sem who had come from one of these school's and she even became a teacher in one of them, I think it was Baer Hagola. I had girls from my HS who worked at Nefesh and they became friends with the girls and they said they were great girls.

Frum Skeptic: again I don't think it was anything against you personally that they didn't accept you. I'm sure they believed in your teshuva.

Jessica said...

Babysitter: They definitely didn't change in those 2 years. And "higher education" my butt. It was in 5th grade that I switched to a Jewish school. I had perfect grades back then. They just didn't want to take the time to teach a kid from a one-income household because there was little to no chance that my parents would be making large donations to their school.

The Babysitter said...

Jessica: ahh ok, there it is, you got your answer! They just wanted money, makes sense, MO school's are expensive, they expect a lot of money and everyone to pay.

Again, I dunno what it is with people and money. Money is like "god" for certain people, they worship it.

Jessica said...

babysitter - my parents were willing to pay full tuition... but I guess paying tuition isn't good enough for some schools. They want the extra stuff too.
Whereas at the school I ended up going to, they gave us a discount for the first two years simply because going from FREE education to private education was a big financial transition and they wanted to make it slightly easier.

David said...

If you think getting into HS is tough, try getting a shidduch!

mlevin said...

Babysitter - keep in my FS was in the best Junior High School of North America, John Hopkins program. This program follows a meathod of self paced education. Imagine 6th graders writing research papers, conducting scientific experiments both in school and on theirown, and studying algebra. This school is tough with a high drop out rate (those who dropped out went to regular PS).

So, imagine a comparison between that and Yeshivah education where algebra is not touched until high school, scientific experiments are inspired and led by teachers, and research papers are introduced in senior year. Imagine comparing school where 80 is a failing mark with highschool where 65 is passing...

The Babysitter said...

Mlevin: 1-Parents complain that their kids are having too much homework as it is, imagine if they would start learning all these difficult stuff at an early age. It takes the fun out of youth. Why do these kids need to be geniuses at such a young age? So that they can impress everyone with their knowledge? till they are old enough to apply the knowledge there's no need to bombard them with physics, algebra and other stuff. Their mind's might not even be able to grasp it at that age and they will get turned off from it young, instead of if the school waits till their older and ready then they will be more accepting of the knowledge and they will understand it better.

2- Why would you want the child to feel like a failure? Kids know on their own what they think a good grade is. For many they set the standards individually, everyone still wants an A even if the passing grade is a 65. There's still the same goal. Just for those that aren't capable of doing better they don't feel like failures so long as they pass 65. Sounds good to me.

frumskeptic said...

babysitter- I LOVED my JHS. I felt like I was accomplishing something each morning I was there.

I went to HS, I felt like I was wasting time, like I was in some sort of looney bin full of girls that only cared about singing (which most of them weren't even any good at).

Life is tough. School is supposed to prepare you for real life. If you can't manage to put up with a billion classes and learning math on your own, how the heck are you supposed to make it in life?

This is why the frum people have it so sucky, they have no work ethic. If you're ok with mediocr in the school why would you have an ambition to be any more than mediocar in real life?

How can they sit there and kvetch about the parnasa crisis when its self inflicted? Don't teach your kid at a young age to learn, they wont learn later on in life.

Oh, and the best part of my school was that they actually had experimental learning not that rote crap they made me suffer with in HS.

The Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: I agree that an education is important. I believe that the frum school's are giving the necessary education. They do prepare you for regents. My school even helped us to register to take the SAT which I found surprising. I agree with everything. The only thing is the education doesn't have to be a Harvard one.

Again, it depends on the student, if a student is dedicated they will learn the stuff, the teacher is teaching it, everyone has the chance, it's just what you make of it.

Even in college there are people who lazy and fool around. They are there to get an education for a job, but yet they rely on the easy A.

frumskeptic said...

Babysitter- Every student should learn to the best of their ability. Which means the smart kids should haev good schools to go to and not have to settle for "necessary"

Regents curriculum sucks. My sister's school got rid of it and took upon themselves their own curriculum whcih was approved by the NYS regents board (how the girls in her school are so smart with such dumb parents and brainwashed curriculum is beyond me), but this is the first yr they're doign this, and they still never tuaght with regents as the main focus, because good education goes passed regents.

"necessary" is bread and butter. People shuld learn to strive for more. THey gotta learn that when they're young.

I'm writing a whole new post about this, cuz this happens to be a recurring argument I'm having with my Rabbi.

frumskeptic said...

i meant brainwashed administration. lol

The Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: I don't think my school had a regents curriculum but we took the regent. We did practice regents stuff. I mean we learnt the classes necessary for the regent, but it wasn't given by the regents people of what to teach.

Ok, so when you write your new post...

frumskeptic said...

just the fact that you took regents meant you had the regents curriculum. My sisters school isn't taking regents anymore.

Post is coming. Gonna be pretty short to, leave room for debate ;)

Jessica said...

FS - I thought it was mandatory for all NY schools to take regents. In order to get a real diploma from a NY school you need to take and pass them, right? So are they just not giving out diplomas anymore? The girls who plan on going to college have to take the GED on their own time or was I just misinformed about what the regents actually are?

frumskeptic said...

Jessica- They got the curriculum approved by the NYS board of regents. It is INSTEAD of the regents curriculum.

School won top parochial school curriculum this year. :)

Actually looks more impressive than an average school regents diploma.

Stacy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stacy said...

In ninth grade my bio teacher gave us a talk about what would be on the regent, how to study ect..
she ended with "but don't worry because public school kids take them too, and if they can pass you have nothing to worry about"

On the regent they covered all the questions that had to do with the male reproduction system. I thought that was hilarious and slightly illegal.

frumskeptic said...

no BY like school I know of taught the male reproductive system pre-regent. Hilarious stuff, because many girls got those wrong.

The Babysitter said...

Stacy: I remember teachers at my school saying the same thing that if PS kids can pass it then we don't have to worry.

By the Bio regent they told us to just write letter "A" by certain number questions that either dealt with evolution or human reproduction. So I didn't even look at the questions, although I wonder if I had looked if I would have known the answers.

FrumSkeptic: I thought you said pre pregnant, and I started to wonder if there's something I don't know about. But then I realized you wrote "Pre-regent".

frumskeptic said...

babysitter- your school could've been closed down or fined for intervening with student answers.

Terrible and completely illegal on the schools part.

- lol on the pre-pregnant. lol.

- the post is coming. alot longer than I expected. I'm just editing. sorrrrrry

The Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: well they didn't tell us the correct answer. It's like you have maybe a 1/4 chance of getting each one right.

I think they explained to us how its allowed, but I forgot. I don't think they would ever do something illegal.


Don't worry, take your time. I might not get to it right away anyways. In a way I like commenting after a bit, so that I get to comment on your post and then on what other people say too.

Lion of Zion said...


"That's why I regard lubavitchers on a really, really high level"

don't worry, they also discriminate. they just have better PR


"What is it with modern schools? You'd think they'd be more accepting"

a lot of MO schools are very accepting of non-religious kids. the one i went to had many (almost half the student body?). but unless you start out in first grade they won't take you because they won't help you catch up. we can argue if this is wrong or right, but it has nothing to do with being intolerant of BTs or non-religious kids

(on the regents issue, i'm pretty sure that ramaz doesn't give regents diplomas)


"The school's that are super Modern perhaps were afraid that you would become extremely frum since you were just on the start, so they didn't want your future potential frum ideas to influence other students"

in my super-MO school (as MO as you can get in brooklyn) there was no fear by administration and teachers of students becoming "extremely frum." some even became frum by your own favored standard (the borsalino standard).

this is one reason why i role my eyes when people criticize my school because some students coming from religious homes end up not religious. this is true, but EVERY yeshivah has kids who go off the derech. however, the MO schools don't hide this fact and in my school at least the OTDs were balanced out (probably actually out-balanced) by students who became BTs in school. in more RW schools there can only net loss because of more restrictive admissions criteria.

The Babysitter said...

Lion of Zion: I think I was joking when I said that. Your right with what you said.

frumskeptic said...

LOZ- I think you're right.I think they just didn't want to help me catch up. I knew people in the school who weren't frum at all, and according to a teacher from there (my dad's friend), he said thre was a "black hatter" kid. Which probably means he was "Frummy" in comparison.

I still think they should've given me the english classes I need, and put me on a probation trial with hebrew, (like have my parents pay for tutoring or s/t) or atleast offered that option. TUition itself was hell, Because the transition from PS to all-girly was crazy.

Joodah said...

Just read your article. I agree with your frustration with the mordern orthodoxy. Sadly this is nothing new. It looks like Modern Orthodox FFB's (Frum Fro Birth) are afraid to expose their kids to anyone who is not on their level of frumkeit, *even* if they're on their way to reaching that level.

I think it's one big Chilul Hashem (desecration of G-d's name)

Lion of Zion said...


you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. or you do and you like to make things up.

Lion of Zion said...


just to clarfiy

1) most MO schools have no problem accepting kids who are not religious. at my own school, and at others, even 50% of the grade was not religious, and the vast majority of these were admitted despite the fact that they were not even on the derech yet. moreover, the kids and their families are accepted for who they are and there is no inquisition-like admissions process; once admitted they are not embarrassed about their families and they do not have to lie to teachers and friends about what goes on at home. (and a later stage, MO parents are not rushing to cloister their children in touro.)

now we can argue whether or not this is an appropriate pedagogical environment for the kids from religious homes, but it is simply a lie to stay categorically that MO FFBs "are afraid to expose their kids to anyone who is not on their level of frumkeit."

(the only exception to this is with many of the younger MO in brooklyn, many of whom won't send their kids to MO schools. they will look for all sorts of excuses, including the presence of non-religious kids, but the real reason is often that they will be ostracized in brooklyn if their kids go to an MO school.)

2) i will also just add that MO tolerance is evident in shidduchim also. when my wife sets up RW people she has to answer a host of annoying questions about background and family; these questions are never even broached with an MO (except for maybe "is the family nice"). i know plenty of MOs (including friends) who dated and/or married BTs (with no exclusion to immigrants either). it simply wasn't an issue and no preference was given to FFBs over BTs.

Jessica said...

LOZ: How is them not willing to help a BT/non-frum kid catch up NOT them "being intolerant of BTs and non-religious kids"?
And as for the regents thing, I'm not from NY so I didn't know the rules with it. I assumed it was similar to the proficiency exam given to all students in Ohio. Without passing the proficiency exam you cannot receive a diploma. But you and FS cleared it up for me, thanks.

Lion of Zion said...


"How is them not willing to help a BT/non-frum kid catch up NOT them "being intolerant of BTs and non-religious kids"?

how can there be intolerance if 50% are not religious and moreover there is no pressure on the nonreligious students and families to fake it? (now that's for a different post on the subject of intolerance.)

i assume (because i don't know the specific school you refer to, but i write based on my own school) the reason you weren't accepted had to do with elitism and money. i.e., they didn't accept you for the same reason they might not accept religious students coming from weaker schools. it's not because you were a BT. had you applied for 1st grade as a little girl it would have been different

elitism: why should they "waste" their time with you when there are 2 (or more) other students fighting for that same spot. the school doesn't need the headache of accommodating you or the risk that you won't catch up, thereby bringing down the schools standing

money: it's "too much" of a financial investment with tutoring, special classes, etc.
and if you were requesting financial assistance, well that's one more reason to keep you out

(just to make sure we are on the same page: i didn't write that you were a weak student or that you would have drowned had you been accepted. i'm just writing from the school's perspective.)

"And as for the regents thing"

just to clarify, regents diplomas are granted by the state (through the school). so some schools just give their own diplomas. their value depends on the school giving them.

שבת שלום

Jessica said...

LOZ: I get what you're saying, but this was a school that wanted/needed more students. There was no real reason to turn me away and if I had applied in first grade, I think they still would have found some excuse why I should go to a different school. Right now in that school are children of a couple where the husband is Jewish and the wife converted reform. (And no, this is not just some story I heard, it's one of my mom's friend's sons and his wife.) Because these people have money they accepted two non-Jewish kids being raised as conservadox Jewish kids and they didn't accept the "less than rich" already Jewish, but learning kid. This is so much worse than just your average, money-grubbing elitist school.

mlevin said...

What about a woman I spoke to last week? She told me how they refused her 4y/o because she didn't know English/Hebrew. We're talking about 4year olds here, they pick up languages off the year.

How about FS's school that hires spies and literally expels girls from their school. No these schools don't tolarate BTs.

They accept goyim (father Jewish) because they are terrified of law suit,,

frumskeptic said...

mlevin- I agree with LOZ. I don't think the coed school cared one bit that I was hardly frum. they cared more that they would have to waste time monitering my progress. about the school I was in- there is no doubt they only hosted the kiruv program for the reputatiom "ooo we do kiruv"

Jessica said...

mlevin - there couldn't possibly be a lawsuit if they refused to accept children that weren't Jewish. They don't have to explain why they do or don't accept them...

mlevin said...

Jessica - you can sue people for anything. This is a free country. Yes, a judge may throw it out of court or s/he may decide not to throw it out. There is also media. Imagine, if media prints an article "Religious Jewish school descriminates against other religions" or something of that sort.