The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Middle States Scam

I am a big proponent of internal reflection for individuals, companies and charitable institutions. I think engaging in cheshbon hanefesh serves a very important purpose for individuals and that organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, can gain and improve from periodic critical self-analysis. So why do I think Middle States accreditation is such a joke for Yeshivas?

A little background. Many years ago, the (former) general studies principal at a local MO yeshiva high school (let's call him "Headmaster"), decided to get his high school accredited by Middle States. His primary goal was to get as many kids into Ivy League schools as possible (without regard to whether this would jeapordize their Yiddishkeit, but that's a topic for another time). So, from his perspective, Middle States accreditation would be helpful because it would give the school a certain status.

Now, the (former) lower school principal (LSP) in this same institution was not to be out done. LSP and Headmaster had an intensely competitive relationship and LSP was not going to sit idly by while Headmaster got all the glory. So LSP went through the process and got Middle States accreditaion as well.

Now we all know that there was a rival school in the neighborhood that was vying for supremacy with the first school. It's board was not going to sit idly by and allow the first school to be the only MO yeshiva in the neighborhood to get Middle States accreditation. So it undertook the exercise of getting Middle States accreditation for itself, first in its more established lower school and then in its girls and boys high school.

I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with Middle States accreditation. I just think it's a waste of time and a diversion. Rather than undertaking real self-analysis and critical self evaluation, the schools bring in a secular outside organization that has little relevance to a Mordern Orthodox yeshiva in the twenty-first century and makes believe it's done critical self anaysis. Shkoiach!.

Middle States is all about PR. The schools would be better off taking their administrations, key lay people and advisors, locking them in a room for a few days, and instructing them to think about what's right and wrong about their schools and what could be done to improve them.


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