New York set to force ultra-Orthodox schools to teach secular subjects

Source: Washington Post

By Laura Meckler

New regulations, if approved by Board of Regents, would require private schools to meet state education standards

New York state officials on Friday proposed new rules that would require private schools to prove they are meeting state education standards, a long-awaited response to allegations that ultraconservative Jewish yeshivas are failing to deliver lessons in core subjects such as English, math and science.

Schools that refuse to comply could lose their designation for meeting the state’s compulsory education requirements. And school districts that fail to monitor the private schools in their boundaries could lose state funding, officials said.

The rules apply to all private schools, religious and not, but they come in response to years of accusations that many ultra-Orthodox schools in Hasidic Jewish communities spend virtually all of their time studying Torah and Talmud, religious texts, leaving children without the education that state law requires they be offered in English, math, science and social studies, along with a handful of other topics.

State officials said they expect schools and local districts to work together to demonstrate schools are meeting the required benchmarks. That may prove optimisticgiven the yeshivas’ contention that the entire oversight process is invalid and their resistance to past investigations and questioning.

The new regulations, which are expected to be approved next week by the state Board of Regents, set up a fresh test of religious liberty and schooling, and people on both sides of the debate predicted the dispute will be appealed in court, possibly to the highest levels. They come at a time when a more conservative Supreme Court has recognized broad religious freedom rights.

Backers of the new rules say they represent important protections for children.

“Tens of thousands of children have been — and continue to be — denied a basic education,” said Naftuli Moster, who attended a Hasidic yeshiva in Brooklyn as a child. Frustrated by the substandard education he said he received, in 2012 he founded the group Young Advocates for Fair Education, or Yaffed, to press for investigations and enforcement.

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Categories: Judaism, Secularism, USA

2 replies

  1. During my time in Bangkok (1989 to 1999) in the Central Mosque compound I visited an orphanage school. The boys were mostly from Southern Thailand and spoke Malay. The subjects taught in the school were classical Arabic, modern Arabic, Hadith, Quran. No Mathermatics and not even Thai language. (The teachers were from Malaysia, Saudi paid). In other words they broke local laws which stated that all children must attend Thai primary schools. When queried the teacher answered ‘but they do not speak Thai’, Well, then teach them …

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