Teaching ultra-Orthodox Children Subjects in Preparation of life Outside of their insular religious community, demanded in the UK – far too much to ask in the US
May 5, 2016
Few US states are enforcing laws requiring publicly funded non-public schools to provide their children with a “substantially similar” education as their public school counterparts. This is a problem within many religious communities, though most profound amongst the ultra-Orthodox Jewish who not only refuse to teach subjects like mathematics and science, but also do not teach their children English. For all intents and purposes, ultra-Orthodox yeshiva educated male children stop learning secular subjects around age 13 and girls little beyond that.
While the US lags behind in cracking down on these schools, and in turn helping the children who are being subjugated to a life of illiteracy, the UK is miles ahead. In a recent article, “Chasidic school loses appeal against ban on new pupils” it was reported that:
The Care Standards tribunal ruled that the Department for Education’s restriction against taking new pupils was “proportionate and necessary” until the school met the required standards for independent schools.
The ruling will have significant implications for the independent Charedi educational sector in the wake of a tougher Ofsted inspection regime that has operated over the past two years.
In the case discussed in the article, the ruling is so far beyond just secular subjects but rather focuses on teaching respect for women, teaching diversity, gay marriage, sexual orientation. In the US, we are still struggling enforcement of laws requiring that ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students learn math and science.
“Dayan Friedman [of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations] had written that if something was forbidden by the Torah, “we are not allowed to put our minds to it, to understand what is done… nor broaden our knowledge of it.”
But Judge Brayne said that pupils would not be equipped “to enter modern British society, which accepts as part of its diversity civil partnerships, gay marriage, families with same-sex parents and acceptance of transgender persons”.
He also said the school needed to do more than simply acknowledge the existence of other faiths in order to promote “fundamental British values” of respect and tolerance towards other people.
Pupils needed to know that “members of different faiths have different beliefs, customs and values, and something about those matters”.
Although Beis Aharon was rated as satisfactory by Ofsted six years ago, it was judged inadequate by inspectors in 2014 and has received two follow-up visits.
The school, which has introduced the teaching of English to children in years one to four, said that it needed more time to implement other improvements to its secular curriculum.
But Judge Brayne said the tribunal panel felt that “the extent of failure to meet standards is serious and we believe only with the pressure of the sanction will the school’s leaders prioritise the work needed”.
He added that the failures were enough to warrant a “more severe decision” from the department.
Chasidic children had the “same right to an education which meets the standards set for independent schools” as any other child, he commented.”
To read the article in its entirety click here.
The US states should be enforcing laws demanding that publicly funded non public schools require teaching basic subjects like math, science and English. It would certainly be too much to ask that children be exposed to the realities of sexual orientation, respect for women, and other issues forbidden to be discussed, no less taught.