Education Week 4/9/19: How Schools are Responding to Immigrant Children

How Schools Are Responding to Migrant Children

—Illustration by Matt Huynh

Tens of thousands of child migrants from Central America are in public schools. Many educators are working to support them, but the intensity of their needs can be a strain.

April 9, 2019
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As I have spent the last several weeks talking to educators about working with migrant children, some have cried.

Their tears, they say, come from a mix of worry, empathy, and frustration with the negative, sometimes hateful, rhetoric surrounding the unprecedented flow of immigrant families across the southern border.

Reporting on migrant children—tens of thousands have come from Central America in recent years—and how they are faring in public schools across the United States as they await their final fates in immigration proceedings is difficult. Lawyers and advocates assisting children and teens are fiercely protective. The kids themselves are often terrified of talking, and not just because they worry about being deported. And the educators teaching and supporting them do not track their numbers formally because federal law requires public schools to enroll and educate children regardless of their immigration status.

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NY Times 3/7/19: Editorial Board Calls for Oversight of Yeshivas

Measles Breaks Out Among Yeshiva Students. Where to Begin?

After accusations of low standards and a measles outbreak, Orthodox Jewish schools want less oversight.


The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

CreditCreditDemetrius Freeman for The New York Times

As New York City has finally begun to exercise oversight over ultra-Orthodox yeshivas that have graduated students without a basic education, some of those Jewish schools have defied city health department scrutiny and helped to feed a measles outbreak. Forty children have contracted measles in recent months, all of the cases linked to a single Brooklyn yeshiva that ignored an order from city health officials to prevent children who hadn’t been vaccinated from attending classes.

Yet that hasn’t stopped yeshiva supporters in Albany from maneuvering to free the schools from government supervision, a reflection of the political pull ultra-Orthodox leaders have come to expect in New York.

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YAFFED 3/25/19: Announces that the NY Times Calls for Oversight of Yeshivas

Hi there,

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.

AP 11/20/19: 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.

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NY Post 11/24/18: NYS Education Dept Threatening to Get Tough On Yeshivas

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

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.

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Yaffed 2/12/19: Agudeth Israel Rep Testifies at Joint Legislative Hearing on Education

Every day, tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic children in New York are being denied a basic education in the Yeshivas they attend, despite the law and the guidelines clearly requiring non-public schools to provide an education that is “at least substantially equivalent” to that of public schools.

Last week, at a Joint Legislative Hearing on Education, a representative from Agudath Israel testified and made claims that in the past would probably go unchallenged.

But not anymore. Thanks to our years of awareness and advocacy, several committee-members were informed enough about the issue to respond with tough questions and refusing to buy the lies peddled by Agudath Israel. Additionally, we were up there to debunk their claims in person.

ChalkBeat 1/17/19: NYSED Announcing New Accountability Standards

New York is about to release a new list of struggling schools. Here’s what you should know.

PHOTO: Monica Disare
State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia at Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School.

New York officials are gearing up to announce which schools are low-performing enough to need intervention from the state — the first time schools will be identified under a sweeping new accountability system.

Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, signed in 2015 by President Barack Obama, states got more leeway to figure out which schools are underperforming and how to support those that don’t measure up and even have some say in what metrics should go into that determination.

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Crains NY Business 1/8/19: New Yorkers Should Pay Attention to Yeshiva Controversy

January 08, 2019 12:00 AM

New Yorkers should pay attention to the yeshiva schools controversy

Schools that deprive children of basic skills get millions of taxpayer dollars

After years of focus on the major educational deficiencies within many ultra-orthodox or Hasidic schools in New York, the state Education Department in November issued updated guidelines that included clarification on “substantial equivalency” requirements for nonpublic schools.

As these guidelines apply to all private schools, it’s been met with a bit of an uproar. Several politicians have been swift to pander to Agudath Israel—an Orthodox Jewish advocacy organization—and yeshiva leaders by portraying this as an assault on yeshivas and calling on the state to back off.

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Daily News 1/7/19: Yeshiva Students Deserve Basic Education

Yeshiva students deserve basic education too: All of New York should stand up and support MaryEllen Elia’s move to safeguard secular instruction

Yeshiva students deserve basic education too: All of New York should stand up and support MaryEllen Elia's move to safeguard secular instruction
Naftuli Moster is right that all kids must be taught the basics. (Mark Lennihan / AP)

It began with a thirst for knowledge.

According to Naftuli Moster, founder of Young Advocates for Fair Education, he attended ultra-Orthodox yeshivas until he was 20 years old. Moved to study mental health, he enrolled in Touro College seeking a bachelor’s degree in psychology.  There he found he had no formal high school diploma and, lacking basic skills in English, writing, history, math and science, only passed the entrance exam through extensive onsite coaching. In class, professors used terms he had never heard before, like “molecule,” “essay” and “Constitution.”

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Spectrum NY1 1/7/19: Yeshivas Barring NYC Inspectors

Yeshivas Defend Barring City Inspectors Who Want to Check on What They’re Teaching

By Lindsey Christ Brooklyn