We’ve got big news: the New York Times is firmly behind students and Yaffed’s fight for yeshiva reform, recently editorializing in favor of the new state guidelines:
“For decades, the communities have largely been allowed to evade government oversight, thanks to politicians who have enjoyed their support as one of the state’s most powerful voting blocs. The price of that support has been largely paid by Orthodox children.”
But as the Times points out, the fight isn’t over.
Unfortunately, there are signs that all of these important efforts could be at risk. A group of private schools that included prominent members like the Brearley School on the Upper East Side sued the state’s Education Department this week, saying those rules infringe on their independence and ability to set their own curricula. Their concerns have no merit because the state’s guidelines would not interfere in any way with the high quality education offered in those schools.
Even more concerning is a push from lobbyists representing ultra-Orthodox and Catholic schools to include language in the state budget that could let them elude scrutiny from the State Education Department.
Sadly, we’re not surprised. The state’s previous decades of neglect have given Yeshivas free-reign to run roughshod over students. And they’re not backing down; maligning Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, unleashing lawsuits, and proposing legislation to further eschew regulation. As the Times points out, if they’re successful,
This would sell out yeshiva students — and those at other schools — who deserve the protections the state is supposed to provide.
Fortunately the Commissioner is determined to deliver for students by enforcing the guidelines. We’ll be watching the litigation closely and staying on top of efforts to manipulate state law, but we can’t do it alone.
Tell NYSAIS, the group that sued on behalf of elite private schools, to stop covering for failing Yeshivas.
Tell your elected official in the assembly and in the senate to oppose efforts to give Yeshivas and other non-public schools a pass, and to stand firmly behind the commissioner in her efforts to ensure that all children receive a basic education.