NEW YORK (Mar. 13)
A national effort to cope with the unprecedented shortage of qualified teachers for Jewish religious schools, and the acceleration of a national study of Jewish education in the United States, rate as top priorities in the current work of the American Association for Jewish Education, Philip W. Lown, president of the organization, declared at a press conference here today.
In a recital of facts and figures Mr. Lown focussed attention on the extent of the teachers’ shortage. “While there is a student population of approximately 400,000 children in week-day and Sunday religious schools, and while this student population is steadily increasing, there are only about 4,000 full-time professional teachers at the disposal of these schools,” he reported. “About 5,000 new teachers will be needed for the next 10 years, while on the basis of available enrollment statistics, all existing teachers training institutions combined will be able to furnish only less than 20 percent of the total requirement.”
In realization of the great dangers inherent in this state of affairs to the development of Jewish religious and cultural life in this country, the American Association for Jewish Education has embarked upon a concerted national effort to alert and arouse the American Jewish community to this foremost challenge to its spiritual existence, Mr. Lown announced. Concomitant with a variety of special orientation meetings in communities from coast to coast, the Association is now convening a series of regional conferences which will be attended by representatives of community organizations, congregations, centers, schools, and the public at large.
These regional conferences, Mr. Lown said, must give earnest attention to the possibilities of taking immediate and long-term measures to increase the teacher supply, raise the economic and social status of the Jewish teacher, better the conditions of his employment, afford the teacher a greater feeling of personal and professional satisfaction in his work, improve the quality of teacher education, and widen the scope of the teacher’s responsibilities and activities.