YAFFED 7/19/19: Urgent Request for Public Comment on NYS Education Dept. Proposed Regulations Governing Non-Public Schools

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How many times have you thought to yourself “I wish I could do something for the tens of thousands of Jewish children who are being denied a basic education and robbed of their futures?” People ask us all the time what they can do.

Never has there been a clearer answer! Right now, just two minutes of your time can make all the difference.

New York State Education Department is soliciting comment from the public on proposed regulations that, if implemented, would drastically improve the education system in all Yeshivas that are currently failing their students.

We have created an easy website for you to submit comment. You don’t need to be a Yeshiva graduate or a parent of a current student. ANYONE can submit public comment. And given the gravity of the problem, we urge you to think of it as your DUTY to speak up on behalf of these helpless children.

Visit our website here to submit your comment.

P. S. Some elite private school parents have expressed concern about the effects of these regulations on their schools. Here’s an information sheet that answers some of their questions and responds to some of their concerns.

Yaffed’s board president, Anita Altman, and Executive Director, Naftuli Moster, recently sat down for an interview with Ronnie Eldridge, host of the prestigious Eldridge & co. show on CUNY TV.

This is the most thorough summary of the issue of secular education in ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic Yeshivas, and if you were previously unfamiliar with the issue, please take the time to watch it in its entirety.

And feel free to share it with friends and colleagues.

Click on the picture below:

YAFFED 7/11/19: Naftuli Moster Interviewed by Ronnie Eldridge about Secular Education in Ultra-orthodox Yeshivas

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Yaffed’s executive Director recently sat down for an interview with Ronnie Eldridge, host of the prestigious Eldridge & co. show on CUNY TV.

This is the most thorough summary of the issue of secular education in ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic Yeshivas, and if you were previously unfamiliar with the issue, please take the time to watch it in its entirety.

And feel free to share it with friends and colleagues.

Click on the picture below:

Lohud 7/22/19: Cuts to East Ramapo School Busing Angers Parents

Cuts to Ramapo school busing anger parents

The district has, for many years, provided students who attend non-public schools, such as yeshivas, with multiple busing routes in the morning and afternoon.

A group of parents is questioning the motives of a Ramapo Central School District plan to trim transportation offerings next fall to private school students, with some saying it is an attempt to oust the Jewish community from an area that’s seen a growth in the Orthodox and Hasidic population in recent years.

For many years, the district has provided students who attend non-public schools, such as yeshivas, with multiple busing routes in the morning and afternoon. But school officials say rising costs caused by an increase in the number of students who seek busing has prompted them to search for a more cost-effective way to manage the multi-million dollar transportation budget.

“It reeks of something else,” said Andrea Jaffe, whose child attends Bais Yaakov of Ramapo. She added that she suspects there is “a discomfort with changing demographics in neighborhoods” within the Ramapo Central District, which serves Airmont, Hillburn, Sloatsburg, Montebello, Suffern and part of Monsey.

AP 11/20/18: Ultra-Orthodox Schools Face Pressure Under New Rules

Ultra-Orthodox schools could face pressure under new rules

November 20, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) — Private and religious schools that don’t provide instruction substantially equivalent to New York state’s public schools will be threatened with loss of funding for textbooks, transportation and other services under new state Education Department rules released Tuesday.

The guidelines released Tuesday apply to all private schools but could have the greatest impact on ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools, called yeshivas, that critics have accused of providing little or no instruction in secular subjects like English and math.

“Although we are still reviewing NYSED’s guidelines, we have always believed that updated guidelines are an important step toward bringing about useful oversight of secular instruction at ultra-Orthodox yeshivas in New York,” said Naftuli Moster, the founder of Young Advocates for Fair Education, or YAFFED, a group that advocates for improved secular education at yeshivas.

The pro-yeshiva group Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools said it worries local school districts may use these guidelines “as license to intrude into the fundamental working and mission of religious schools.”

The group said in a statement, “Any attempt to impose uniformity on the almost 1,800 nonpublic schools in New York State, however well-intentioned, is only going to succeed if it appropriately accounts for the uniqueness of our schools and our educational system.”

Under the guidelines, staff members from local school districts will visit each nonpublic school once every five years and will determine whether the schools are providing enough instruction in required subjects including English, math, social studies and science.

Read more…

Lohud 11/20/18: Yeshivas Could Close if Academics Fail State Reviews

Yeshivas could face closure, eventually, if academics fail state reviews

CLOSE

Lohud’s Nancy Cutler interviews Yeshiva education activist Naftuli Moster, June 12, 2018 in New City. Tania Savayan, tsavayan@lohud.com

Private schools that don’t comply with state requests to improve academic instruction as part of a new review process could face sanctions that would, in the worst cases, effectively shut a school.

On Tuesday, the SED issued its long-awaited guidelines on determining whether private schools, particularly Hasidic yeshivas, are complying with state law when it comes to teaching secular academics.

Based on the new standards, schools districts will be required to start conducting substantial equivalency reviews during the 2018-2019 school year of religious and independent schools within their district. The Education Department expects districts to complete initial reviews by Dec. 15, 2021, and to revisit schools on a five-year cycle.

The review process will be slow moving, in part, because there is no additional funding for school districts that have to review private schools.

Read more…

The New York Post 11/24/18: NY Threatening to Get Tough on Schools that Don’t Teach

Threatening to get tough (eventually) on schools that don’t teach

Years into the investigation into whether some yeshivas fail to provide the basic education required by state law, the State Education Department is threatening to get tough.

SED last week issued new guidelines on how it will enforce requiring non-public schools to offer “substantial equivalency of instruction” — that is, whether they teach basics in secular subjects like English, history, math and science.

The rules give Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia a hammer: She can deny cash (for transportation, special education and other funding) to schools that don’t teach — and also list their students as not attending a real school, which means trouble for the parents of the “truant” kids.

But getting to the penalty stage may take quite some time. The rules don’t seem to even start any penalty phase until Dec. 15, 2021.

Huh? The Department of Education has (theoretically) been investigating dozens of yeshivas for three years now. Yet last month Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza revealed six high-school-equivalent yeshivas have refused access to DOE’s evaluators. Do those schools get to restart the clock?

Even then, the guidelines call for joint action between the school and SED officials to get a problem school into compliance.

As Naftuli Moster, the activist who’s led the fight for yeshiva accountability, notes, leaving any real action until 2022 is “far too long for students who are being denied a comprehensive educational experience, day in and day out, to wait.”

All in all, it looks like New York’s leaders have punted on this issue once again.

Spectrum News NY1 1120/19: NY Outlines Regulations for Private School Teaching

A school

A file image of a yeshiva in Brooklyn. Regulations that state education officials announced Tuesday on what private schools teach could have the greatest impact on yeshivas in the city that, according to critics, provide little or no instruction in secular subjects like English and math.

EDUCATION

NY Outlines New Guide­lines for What Private Schools Must Teach

By Lindsey Christ New York City

NEW YORK (AP) — Private and religious schools that don’t provide instruction “substantially equivalent” to New York state’s public schools will be threatened with loss of funding for textbooks, transportation, and other services under new state Education Department rules.

The guidelines released Tuesday apply to all private schools. But they could have an immediate impact on Orthodox Jewish schools that critics have accused of providing little or no instruction in secular subjects like English and math.

An estimated 115,000 children attend Orthodox Jewish yeshivas in New York state.

Read more…

Times Herald Record 11/20/18: NY State Calls for Scrutiny of Non-Public Schools

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.

Read more…

YAFFED 4/2019: Report on Non-Equivalency

Report: Non-Equivalent

Our 90-page report, Non-Equivalent: The State of Education in New York City’s Hasidic Yeshivas, includes updated data on the amount and quality of secular education in the city’s yeshivas, a detailed examination of funding provided to yeshivas, new demographic projections of Hasidic school enrollment in New York City, recommendations for the New York City Department of Education and New York State Education Department, and more. It also features chapters contributed by Samuel Heilman, PhD and Dena S. Davis, JD, PhD. The report is chaired by Marci A. Hamilton, JD, and Louis Grumet, JD.

Read the full report here.

OR

Read the executive summary here.

Our report is the first and only standing body of knowledge on the topic, and comes after years of broken promises by the New York City Department of Education to produce their own report on their investigation, which was sparked by our 2015 allegations of very serious and concerning noncompliance with New York State education law in Hasidic schools.

YAFFED 4/23/19: Substantial Equivalency and Vaccinations in Hasidic Schools

Last Thursday, a judge in Albany ruled in favor of yeshiva leaders and struck down the recently revised guidelines that, if enforced, would have for the first time ever ensured that local school districts properly enforced “substantial equivalency” requirements.

If you’re feeling despondent and discouraged, I don’t blame you. I know some of you, particularly Yeshiva graduates and parents of current students attending Hasidic Yeshivas, are literally enraged. You have every right to be, and I very much relate to those feelings.

Please read a full update on that lawsuit here.

This morning, the New York Times published an op-ed by a Hasidic father linking the current measles outbreak to the lack of secular education and the pervasive anti-science attitude encouraged by the same leaders who are now purporting to encourage their followers to vaccinate.
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