Yesterday one of my daughters was looking at the price of camps and even she, who has a teenager's sense of economy, was amazed at the price tags of some of the more well known "modern orthodox" (I don't like to use labels, but I don't have any pejorative meaning in mind here) camps. When you add up $22,000 in tuition, which is what some of the modern schools in my neck of the woods are charging, and another $8000+ in camp costs, you have blown through $30,000 before you even clothe and feed your teenager. How can people afford this? It boggles my mind. Maybe I should credit the modern orthodox community for their ideological commitment in being moseirnefesh to send to their own schools and camps that cost far in excess of what comparables in the "yeshiva world" cost. Even on the smaller scale of day camp, my youngest (10 years old) is attending a camp that costs less than $1000 for the entire summer while a neighbor sends to a summer day camp run by a modern school that charges $3000 a summer. I guess if you can afford it, why not, but I really don't see how a little kid's summer enjoyment is worth treble the price.
Of course, it's only fair to compare apples to apples. My son's yeshiva, for example, costs far less than a typical modern Hebrew academy style high school, but it does not offer a foreign language class; there is no art class; there is no music class; there is no mandatory gym period; there are only a few AP classes (which is a notch above most "yeshivishe" places that offer none). He will in all likelihood never be accepted to Harvard without those extras, but he has no aspiration to go to college, much less an Ivy league school. He has an adequate education (English, math, history, science) to attend CUNY or some other mid-tier school if he desires, and for us, that's good enough. The trade off (which we are happy making) is that his learning is far above and beyond the level that he would have gotten out of any modern orthodox high school program.
But what do those extras really get you? In June I remember reading in some of the local papers the list of college programs some of the modern yeshivos were advertising that their graduates would be attending, and there were lots of CUNY and SUNY names in the mix. Don't get me wrong -- I think you can get a perfectly good education at a city or state university, but you can also get into those schools without three years of French and without being able to recognize a Beethovan symphony. What's the point of paying tens of thousands of dollars more than your "yeshivishe" neighbor to send your kid to a high school that offers a "better" secular education if your kid ends up in Queens or Brooklyn College or even YU? And please don't tell me it's all lishma, knowledge for it's own sake -- you can get that at the public library.
The yeshiva world has its own economic problems -- it's ludicrous to think that everyone can learn in kollel for extended periods of time with no one paying the price -- but the grass is economically no greener on the side of the fence.