State calls for scrutiny of nonpublic schools education
The amount of math, English and other secular subjects being taught in Kiryas Joel’s Hasidic schools will be given fresh scrutiny under state rules issued on Tuesday to tighten enforcement of a longstanding legal requirement on nonpublic schools in New York.
The state is ordering public school superintendents and the New York City schools chancellor to review all religious and other private schools operating in their districts and determine if they are providing a “substantially equivalent” education to that of the public schools. In practice, that sets up potential conflicts with ultra-Orthodox schools that prize intensive Torah study over secular instruction, especially for older boys.
Reviewing the yeshivas in and just outside Kiryas Joel that enroll more than 13,000 students will fall to Joel Petlin, superintendent of Kiryas Joel’s public school for special-education students, and Monroe-Woodbury school Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez. Both listened to a conference call that state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia held with reporters on Tuesday to explain the new rules, and said afterward that they needed to wade through the materials and get more information before assessing the potential impact.
“I think I have more questions than I have answers,” Rodriguez said.