"I believe the work you do is the most important work that is to be done if we are to ensure a vibrant Judaism in future generations."
-URJ Chairman Peter Weidhorn, ECERJ Conference, January 2011
A special Task Force was created by URJ Chairman Peter Weidhorn to explore government funding of pre-K classes. The Task Force began by studying the long history of the URJ's and CCAR's fundamental belief in the First Amendment Establishment Clause separating Church and State. Based on the importance of maintaining this separation, the Task Force has been looking at how other faith-based religious organizations are dealing with the issue, and perhaps discovering or even visioning some additional vehicles so that our congregational early childhood centers can remain competitive in this ever changing landscape.
UPDATE (9.12.11): On Sept. 11, Marc Newman, David Saperstein and URJ Early Childhood Specialist Cathy Rolland presented the URJ Board with the compelling facts about government funded pre-K. View the PowerPoint presentation and learn what the URJ Board learned about this issue that is affecting all of our congregations. (Note: For best results, view the presentation in "slide show" mode.)
UPDATE: For the past several months, a task force composed of lay and professional leaders from the RAC and URJ has been discussing the issue of universal and voluntary pre-kindergarten (pre-k) programs and the impact they have on many of our congregation's early childhood programs. (For an overview of this challenging situation, view this PowerPoint presentation.)
The preliminary findings of the task force demonstrate the need for a comprehensive survey of our URJ early childhood programs in order to have an in-depth understanding of all of the factors deeply affecting our preschools throughout North America.
As such, this summer a survey will be sent to all congregational early childhood directors. We hope education directors will not only fill out the survey, but also use it as an impetus to discuss with other congregational leaders the important concerns facing their community and others.
We would like to invite you to be a part of this important process as the findings will be more powerful as we attempt to gain a broader understanding of what is happening in the Reform movement as a whole.
The following are some valuable resources to help you stay up to date on the Task Force's findings: