State Sanctioned Educational Neglect – Yehsivas Still Not Cooperating

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EDUCATIONAL NEGLECT IN NEW YORK STATE: WHY ARE YESHIVA STUDENTS EXEMPT FROM SCRUTINY AND COULD THIS BE THE BASIS OF A CONSTITUTION CLAIM?

 

We ask why parents of children who do not believe that the school systems in NY State are adequate and decide to home school, or provide an education via online homeschooling programs are, now more than ever, being charged with Educational Neglect when it looks as though those children are not meeting state mandated standards.

And yet, Yeshivas which have been proven to wholly neglect the standards for math, English and science, are not held to the same educational standards as non-religious school children. It seems to us to be a case where reasons of educational choice unrelated to religion are being held to higher levels of scrutiny than neglecting children’s education in the yeshiva setting.

That is a form of discrimination as we view it and might even form the basis for a Constitutional argument.

Why can Yeshiva parents get away with under-educating their children in math, science and English and parents who home-school be charged with Educational neglect even when they are adequately providing an education in those subjects, amongst the many required by NY State? 

Six Yeshivas Not Cooperating with Investigation, City Says

By Lindsey Christ New York City 

Three years after launching an investigation of 30 Jewish day schools, the de Blasio administration says it is still being barred from even entering the six high schools involved in the inquiry.

Some graduates and parents of former students have accused the yeshivas of not teaching basic secular subjects like math and English as required by law. High schools for boys are alleged to be the worst offenders.

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza tells State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia in a letter that 21 of the schools serving younger students have now allowed the city to visit, and the remaining three elementary schools have scheduled visits. But none of the high schools will let city education officials inside.

Naftuli Moster heads an organization seeking to improve secular education in ultra-Orthodox schools.

“Here we are, another school year is passing by very quickly, and the kids are still not getting an education,” he said.

The chancellor sent an initial letter to the state in August, saying only half of the 30 schools investigators inside.

The yeshivas denied shutting the city out, promising that all of the remaining visits would be scheduled.

Now, the chancellor says only the elementary schools have followed through with that pledge.

In his August letter, the chancellor also asked the state for help on how to proceed. A state spokeswoman tells NY1 that official guidance for how to ensure private schools are following the law will be released by the end of this month.

Critics have accused the administrations of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo of treating the yeshivas with kid gloves because the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community is considered a powerful voting bloc.

The New York Times has reported the city’s top independent investigator is looking into whether City Hall interfered with the education department’s scrutiny of yeshivas for political purposes.

“I personally believe that such an investigation would uncover a lot of corruption, a lot of intentonal stalling on the part of the mayor and his staff. I think a lot has been going on there to stonewall, delay,” Moster said.

A lawyer for the yeshivas said the chancellor’s letter was not accurate, but he did not explain what was inaccurate.

 

 

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Opinion: NYC Investigation of Yeshivas a Farce – New York’s Children the Losers

education_sign_resizedNYC’s so-called investigation of yeshivas is a farce

 

For a brief moment last summer, new Chancellor Richard Carranza seemed set to break the logjams and turn the city’s three-year farce of an investigation into Jewish religious schools into something serious.

Guess again: Carranza has just disclosed that none of the Orthodox yeshiva high schools — always the real crux of the alleged problem — will allow city investigators in.

For years, activists have charged that some Orthodox schools fail to provide the basic secular education that state law requires. Even those elementary schools that offer a bare minimum of instruction reportedly end it after age 13.

In 2015, the de Blasio administration announced an active investigation. But years passed with no sign that any such probe was actually under way.

Now NY1 reports that Carranza has notified State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia that 21 of the 30 targeted schools have been inspected (surprise: all “passed”), and three others have scheduled visits.

As activists note, the fact that the visits are scheduled instead of unannounced strongly suggests any investigating is being driven by the schools, not the city.

More important, six high schools won’t even let officials in the door, so Carranza is asking Elia for help. Elia, in turn, says long-promised new guidelines for such inspections are coming … real soon now.

Again, more than three years have passed — during which the politically potent Orthodox community, while fighting the non-probe tooth and nail, got the Legislature to water down the education requirements.

City Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters is looking into whether political interference explains the city’s foot-dragging.

This is not religious persecution; it’s about ensuring that kids learn the basic knowledge and skills to function outside their community. Plainly, Team de Blasio doesn’t see that as any kind of priority.

Education, New York, YAFFED

Brooklyn Hasidim Lost A Vote — Which Might Save Their Children From A Life Of Poverty

THE FORWARD

In A Last-Minute Backroom Deal In April Of 2018, A New York State Senator Managed To Dramatically Reduce The Ability Of The Government To Enforce Educational Standards At Jewish Day Schools.

Senator Simcha Felder, An Orthodox Jew Who Ran As A Democrat But Caucuses With The Republicans, Represents Large Swaths Of The Hasidic Community In The Boro Park, Midwood And Flatbush Neighborhoods Of Brooklyn. In April, Felder Was A Key Swing Vote With The Power To Block The State Budget If He Didn’t Get His Way.

But In The November 2018 Election, Democrats Took Back Control Of The New York State Senate — And With It, A Large Chunk Of Felder’s Power.

Brooklyn, New York Is Home To Approximately 50,000 Hasidic Yeshiva Students. Until Recently, The Yeshivot That Educate These Students Have Set Their Curriculum Without Much Interference From The Government, Media Or The General Public.

What Was Taught In These Yeshivas Was Of No Concern To Those Outside The Hasidic Community. This Started To Change In 2011, When Former Hasidic Yeshiva Student Naftuli Moster Founded Young Advocates For Fair Education And Began Pressing State And Local Authorities To Enforce Educational Standards. In 2015, New York City Officials Agreed To Begin Looking Into The Issue, And That Same Year, YAFFED Filed A Class-Action Lawsuit Against Four Yeshivot. In The Years Since, Moster And His Allies Have Been An Increasingly Public Thorn In The Side Of The Hasidic Brooklyn Establishment.

As The City’s Investigation Continued To Pick Up Steam, Hasidic Leaders Devised A Plan To Safeguard The Status Quo.

The Plan Was Brazen By Any Stretch Of The Imagination. The Satmar Rebbe Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum Urged State Senator Simcha Felder To Hold Up The New York State Budget Until They Agreed To Pass An Amendment Which Would Exempt Hasidic Yeshivot From The Full-Curriculum Of Secular Studies As Mandated By Law.

The Chamber Was Evenly Split Down Party Lines, And Simcha Felder Knew How To Use His Power. Time And Again, He Was Courted By Both Parties. Felder Made His Vote Count, Especially When It Came To Protecting The Status Quo Of Hasidic Yeshiva Education.

Felder Followed Orders And Eventually Pushed Through The Budget And His “Yeshiva Carve Out” Amendment.

Felder Himself Is Not Hasidic. His Children Do Not Attend Hasidic Yeshivot. Nevertheless, Felder Felt Obligated To Take Orders From The Satmar Rebbe, Whose Followers Generally Vote For Whomever He Tells Them To Vote For.

Governor Cuomo Warned Felder Months Ago That The Midterms Would Most Likely Result In A Democratic Majority. “Let Me Say That The Democratic Conference Will Not Need You In November The Way They Need You Now,” Cuomo Reminded Felder, And Urged Him To Rejoin The Party While His Vote Still Counted.

Felder Ignored Cuomo’s Advice. Now, With Felder Weakened, His “Yeshiva Carve Out” Amendment Might Be In Jeopardy Of Being Repealed Or Undermined.

Without The Felder Amendment, Hasidic Yeshivot Would Theoretically Be Subjected To The Same State And City Education Laws That Apply To All Private Schools. Not Teaching Secular Studies As Mandated By Law Would No Longer Be Acceptable.

The Felder Amendment Aimed To Deal With The “Substantially Equivalent” Clause In The New York State Education Law, Which Mandated All Private Schools Teach Their Students A Substantially Equivalent Curriculum As Taught In Public Schools.

The Amendment Sought To Consider The Talmud Taught In Hasidic Yeshivot As A Substitute For The Secular Subjects Not Taught To The Yeshiva Students. The Amendment Also Wanted To Permanently Exempt Hasidic Yeshivot From Teaching Any Secular Subjects Past The 8th Grade. Naturally, Albany Was Wary Of Passing Such An Amendment, As It Would Only Further Erode The Little Secular Studies That Hasidic Yeshiva Students Received Already.

“Even If We Had To Do Something For Simcha, We Could Have Minimized The Damage To Kids With Narrowed Language,” Said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Who Chairs The New York State Assembly Education Committee.

Exactly How The Amendment Is To Be Understood And Implemented Is A Matter Of Ongoing Debate.

In Practice, Hasidic Education Consists Almost Exclusively Of Religious Studies Such As Torah, Mishnah, Talmud And Jewish Law. The Little English Grammar And Basic Math That Is Taught Comes After A Long Day Of Religious Training.

From My Own Experience Studying In Hasidic Yeshivot And From My Time Teaching Basic English In The Satmar Yeshiva, I Can Attest That By The Time Students Sit Down For The Regular 90 Minutes Of Secular Education, They Are Usually Tired And Restless. Most Hasidic Boys Do Not Receive A High School Diploma. With Only Rudimentary Secular Training Until 8th Grade And No Secular Studies After 8th Grade, Hasidic Boys Do Not Have The Skills To Even Take The New York State High School Regents.

This Is Not Accidental. The Hasidic Yeshivot Don’t Want Their Graduates To Attend College And They See No Reason Why Their Students Should Receive A High School Diploma. So Long As Their Students Are Adept At Talmudic Study And Jewish Law, The Yeshivot Feel That They Have Accomplished Their Mission.

This Has Not Always Been The Case. In The Early Days Of Hasidim In America, Hasidim Were More Open To Secular Studies For Their Sons. Most Hasidic Yeshivot From The 1940s Through The 1970’S Taught Their Students A Dual Curriculum, With Torah In The Morning And Secular Studies In The Afternoon. But With Time, The Hasidic Community Reverted Back To The Education Model They Had In Eastern Europe Prior To The Holocaust.

The Bobov Hasidic Community Illustrates This Shift Well.

One Of The First Comprehensive Studies Of Hasidic Education In The United States Was Written By Robert Mark Kamen, Entitled Growing Up Hasidic: Education And Socialization In The Bobover Hasidic Community. The Book Explores The Bobov School System, Primarily Dealing With The Boys Yeshiva Grades 1-12. The Study Is Based On Kamen’s Field Work And School Visits During The 1974 School Year.

At That Time, Following Eighth Grade, Each Boy Had A Choice Of Whether To Continue Studying Secular Subjects. If He Chose To Discontinue Secular Subjects When Starting Ninth Grade, He Had To Obtain Permission From Both Parents. Kamen Reports That Obtaining Permission From The Father Was Much Easier Than From The Mother. Perhaps Mothers Were Hesitant To Allow Their Sons To Stop Learning Secular Subjects, As This Would Preclude Them From Receiving A High School Diploma. But After A Few Requests, The Mothers Would Eventually Sign The Permission Slips.

From Then On, The Yeshiva Boy Would Learn Exclusively Torah For The Rest Of His Formal Yeshiva Schooling. Kamen Reports That In 1974, Very Few Bobov Yeshiva Boys Received A New York State High School Diploma. As Time Went On, It Seems The School Policy Changed. Written Permission From The Parents Was No Longer Required To Discontinue Formal Secular Education. By Default, From Ninth Grade On, The Yeshiva Provided Only Torah Instruction.

Most Hasidic Yeshivot Eventually Followed The Bobov Model. Secular Subjects, Usually Consisting Of Basic English And Math, Stopped Entirely After Eighth Grade. Furthermore, Not Every Hasidic Boy Was Obligated To Attend Secular Subjects Even Until Eighth Grade. Children Or Grandchildren Of Hasidic Rebbes, Known As “Rebeshe Einiklach,” Were Exempt From Secular Subjects Altogether.

The History Of The Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic Sect In America Illustrates This Conflict. Initially, When The Sixth Chabad Rebbe Arrived In 1940, He Established The Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim, Which Utilized A Dual Curriculum: Torah In The Morning Followed By Secular Studies In The Afternoon. However, In 1956, The Seventh Chabad Rebbe Established His Own Rival Yeshiva, Oholei Torah, Dedicated To A Pure Torah Education Without Any Secular Instruction At All.

Naturally, It Was The Graduates Of Oholei Torah Who Most Often Eventually Went On To Heed The Rebbe’s Call To Establish Chabad Houses Around The Globe. Today, The Oholei Torah Yeshiva Is The Flagship School Of The Chabad Movement In Crown Heights, Boasting 1,850 Students From Kindergarten To The Adult Full-Time Beit Midrash.

For Many Years, Yiddish Was The Sole Language Of Instruction In Oholei Torah, But Lately English Is Becoming More Prevalent As The Student Body Speaks Yiddish At Home Less And Less.

Without A High School Diploma And No College Credits To Speak Of, Most Hasidic Yeshiva Graduates Either Studied Full-Time In Kollel, Worked Inside The Community As Torah Teachers Or Joined Local Stores That Were Owned By Hasidim. The Secular Workplace Was Generally Off Limits.

With Time, A Number Of Hasidic Yeshiva Graduates Wanted To Open Up More Job Opportunities For Themselves. Contrary To Their Community’s Wishes And Norms, They Received GEDs And Enrolled In College. Only Then Did They Realize How Behind They Were In Secular Studies. YAFFED Was Founded By One Such Yeshiva Graduate. Moster Immediately Realized The Disservice Hasidic Yeshivot Were Doing To Their Students And Began Advocating For Yeshiva Education Reform.

With The Passing Of The Felder Amendment, YAFFED Filed Suit In Federal Court Challenging The Amendment’s Constitutionality.

The Future Of Secular Education In American Hasidic Yeshivot Remains To Be Seen, But One Thing Is Certain: Felder’s Reign As Kingmaker Is Over.

Now That Felder Cannot Make Demands Anymore, It Would Seem Probable That The Chamber’s Education Committee May Decide To Revisit His Amendment. There Is No Question That The Amendment Was Aimed To Water Down Education Standards In Hasidic Yeshivot. Instead Of Bolstering Yeshiva Student’s Knowledge Of English, Math And Science, The Amendment Let The Yeshivot Continue Producing Graduates Who Are Semi-Literate At Best.

In The Meantime, YAFFED’s Federal Suit Grinds On.

In A Recent Affidavit Filed In Federal Court, And In A Shorter Op-Ed In Crain’s, Former Hofstra Law School Dean And Current Brooklyn Law School Professor Aaron D. Twerski Asserts That The Current Hasidic Education Curriculum Is In The Best Interest Of The Community. After Discussing The Intrinsic Value Of Talmud Study, Primarily Its Ability To Sharpen The Student’s Mind, Twerski Makes The Following Statement: “Critics Of Hasidim Like To Note That There Is Poverty In Our Community. But It Is Simplistic And Inaccurate To Suggest That The Emphasis On Jewish Studies Is At The Root Of Those Financial Challenges. It Is Common For Husband And Wife To Earn Between $75,000 And $100,000 Annually Yet Struggle Because Large Families Are Common. That Is A Choice Made Of Religious Conviction, Not The Product Of Inadequate Education.”

This Statement Makes Unsubstantiated Assertions. According To The Most Recent UJA Special Report On Poverty, 45% Of Hasidic Households In New York Live In Poverty. The Study Goes On To Connect The Low Earning Capacity In The Hasidic Community To The Lack Of Secular Education. The Study Concludes That Despite Considerable Effort, The Families Cannot Earn Enough Money To Be Self-Supporting.

“Nearly Three-Quarters Of Poor Hasidic Households Have At Least One Person Who Is Employed Full-Time Or Is Self-Employed. But Hasidic Households Have Very Low Levels Of Secular Education. In 62% Of Hasidic Households, Neither The Respondent Nor His Or Her Spouse Has More Than A High School Diploma.”

It Is Regrettable That Professor Twerski, Who Personally Acquired A Solid Secular Education Which Enabled Him To Reach The Height Of American Academia, Should Be Defending The Felder Amendment, Which Will Only Further Erode The Opportunity For Hasidic Boys To Obtain A Secular Education.

The Hasidic Communities’ Refusal To Teach Boys Secular Subjects Seems To Be Based On The Theory That The Boys Will Use Secular Knowledge And Training To Leave The Hasidic Way Of Life. At Times, This Fear Of Male Defection Becomes A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.

 

Read More: Https://Forward.Com/Scribe/414084/The-Hasidic-Elite-Just-Lost-A-Powerful-Swing-Vote-And-Their-Students/

Read more: https://forward.com/scribe/414084/the-hasidic-elite-just-lost-a-powerful-swing-vote-and-their-students/

Education and Yeshivas in New York An Institution of Depriving Children

From the Rockland Voicehttp://rocklandvoice.com/opinion/the-woman-who-was-not-educated-in-a-yeshiva/

The Woman Who Was Not Educated By A Yeshiva
Confronts The County Legislators Who Claim They Were.

Julie Globus

 By: Julie D. Globus
“To be a Jew sitting in that room was an embarrassment.”

On Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in the Rockland County Legislature all of the children of Rockland County were stripped of their rights to have their county legislature enforce New York’s requirement of a “substantially similar” education. Parents were denied the most fundamental of rights, to protect their children and see that they are educated; and a community was discharged of its ability to report a school, any school, that is not educating children to standards set by the State. The plundering of these rights was left in the hands of two men, each of whom based his decision on a desire for inequality over equality, for ignorance over knowledge and for insularity over integration. It was a tragedy of epic proportions to watch unfold and it will forever shape Rockland County’s weak approach to New York State’s Education Laws.

Fundamentally and legally what was being voted for or against was a memorializing resolution which is best described as a memorandum of support related to a bill drafted by New York State Assemblyman, Kenneth Zebrowski.  Zebrowski’s Albany bill, at its core provides a method of enforcement for a poorly drafted New York State law related to education. The present law requires that publicly funded private schools offer a “substantially similar” education as public schools. However, New York’s law is lacking both in the definition of “substantiality” and in its enforcement provisions to uphold that law.

A vote in favor of the memorandum of support by the members of the Multiservices Committee, chaired by Legislator Soskin, would have brought the memorandum before the full County Legislature on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 for its vote of certain approval.

While rational minds in all communities should have advocated zealous support for the memorandum and for the change in the Albany law it was designed to support, the two Legislators who shot it down and killed it in their committee, Soskin and Wieder, framed the memorandum into a “Jewish Question” rather than an education question.

Legislator Aron Wieder, in a remarkable rant quoting George Washington, spoke of his beautiful children, spoke of the salaries within the ultra-Orthodox community that are higher than in non-Orthodox communities, spoke of disingenuous depiction of welfare and other laws and then, in showmanship worthy of an Oscar, he threw a report into his trashcan that was drafted by YAFFED (Young Advocates For A Fair Education whose leader grew up a Hasid).

Wieder’s actions prove that there is a fundamental problem within the Rockland County ultra-Orthodox community related to the deprivation of a basic education in core subjects such as science and mathematics.

Legislator Soskin, the leader of the MultiServices Committee, praised me and my comments to the county legislature, which were both in Hebrew and in English. I was vigorously supporting the vote and imploring him to vote in favor of releasing the memorializing resolution from his committee so that the full membership of the county legislature could cast their votes. Soskin, in his biased ignorance, used me as the prime example of someone who is a “product of a yeshiva education.”

First and foremost, I did NOT graduate from Yeshiva – I went to a public school where I was in the racial minority but I grew up in a house where education, beyond all else, was paramount. My school education was Legislator Soskinsupplemented by Hebrew School, finance, music, multiple languages, mathematics, science, horticulture, photography, woodworking and vocabulary. Had there been more hours in the day, my parents likely would have subjected me to additional subjects. Legislator Soskin spoke of parents’ right to educate their child as they sees fit regardless of the parameters of that education, all antithetical to NYS law.

What occurred at the committee meeting spoke volumes about the exploitation of religion as a veil of secrecy and the clever use of politics to scream anti-Semitism by several legislators in the Rockland County legislature.

To be a Jew sitting in that chamber was an embarrassment. To watch the children who believed themselves to be losing out if the vote passed was a travesty insofar as it pointed to how easily children can be indoctrinated and led to follow whatever is being taught whether guided or misguided. To watch Jewish orthodox parents speak out against the bill exemplified the manipulation of the intent of the bill, couched by that community in terms of an attack against a way of life the community holds dear. To listen to the emotional stories of those who came out of a yeshiva system that robbed them of a secular education was heartbreaking.

One woman and her child got up and spoke against the memorandum claiming that she sent her children to Yeshiva and that the Yeshiva in question does a better job of educating its children than the public schools. Perhaps the one she spoke of does do a better job. I wouldn’t doubt it – there are many yeshivas as excellent as many other private religious schools and to be honest many of the  public schools are, in my view, grossly inadequate. This bill would have protected publicly educated children as well. But if her comments were of the importance of a quality education, they should have registered her as a supporter of the vote, which would not have affected her in the least. She should have been imploring support of a vote so that more of the schools sharing her value system achieve the highest standards of which she spoke.

Assemblyman Zebrowski

In the most remarkable words to be spoken by Legislator Aron Wieder in any public meeting to date, he justified his disdain for Democratic Assemblyman Zebrowski’s bill by quoting from a letter written by George Washington. His choice of historical reference was perfect when taken in a vacuum and a clever means to gaslight people into believing the Zebrowski bill was an attempt at curtailing the free practice of religion.

Legislator Wieder neglected to provide context to Washington’s words. The letter from Washington was written in response to Moses Seixas who spoke on behalf of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport in 1789, at a time when Rhode Island was needed for ratification of the Constitution. Seixas in his letter to George Washington, made reference to a long standing tradition of discrimination which prevented Jews from becoming free citizens, free to practice their religion and to worship in their synagogues.

President Washington’s reply, a poignant example of both Washington’s intellectual capacity and his diplomacy as read by Wieder is as follows:

“Happily the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction,
to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection
should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their
effectual support… . May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this
land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants, while every
one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig-tree, and there shall be none to make
him afraid.”

Legislator Wieder’s beautifully rehearsed but misleading diatribe supporting his rejection of the vote on the memorializing resolution, referred to “our great Constitution” (a play on both the Constitution of the United States and the Torah) and he neglected to inform his constituency that the correspondence between Washington  and the Jewish communities was a form of diplomacy to gain Rhode Island’s support for the ratification of “our great Constitution”. The correspondence between the Jewish community and Washington also formed the basis for the Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791, which critically included the right to redress.

Remarkably, the First Amendment reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

For Wieder, sitting in safety under the “vine and fig tree” is an imperative, as it should be. The right to redress, however, is to be ignored.

Sadly the words of Legislator Soskin and Legislator Wieder did nothing if not prove that the ultra-Orthodox community on whose behalf they spoke does not want oversight. They do not want transparency. They do not want their schools to be required to teach core subjects and to enforce a policy that requires it, because it will also alter the way in which the children within that community are indoctrinated, shielded from exposure to the outside world and introduced to a path to a future that might one day mean leaving that community. They would prefer to hold children and their families hostage.

For Mr. Wieder it boiled down to religious freedom free of redress. For Legislator Soskin it was a matter of condensing the discussion into the freedom of a parent to choose a specific education without fear of community intervention if that education is inadequate.

Well, Legislator Soskin, I ask you this: “When does the community have the right to intervene on behalf of its children? If it takes a village to raise a child, is it not then the community’s responsibility if that child is deprived, neglected, harmed, destroyed or otherwise disenfranchised?”

In a very slippery slope, Legislators Wieder and Soskin have all but guaranteed that the future of the private school educated children of Rockland County, Jewish or otherwise, is uncertain, fraught with potential hardships, poverty, social and educational neglect.

As an unintended consequence they have all but paved the way for publicly educated children to be similarly disenfranchised, destroying not only the future of those children being taught in private inadequate settings, Jewish or otherwise but also future public education within this great State of New York.

[Editor’s Note:  Legislator Soskin seems to have been unaware of Ms. Globus’ educational credits.  In 1991 she graduated with honors from Skidmore College with a BA in Government and Philosophy which she completed in 3 years. Following graduation, Julie accepted a grant to attend The Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus in Israel for one year. While she did not speak the language when she left for Israel, at the end of the year Julie was offered a scholarship towards completion of her MA, which in 1995 she earned with honors in Political Theory, studying mainly in Hebrew. Julie returned to the US to earn her law degree from Rutgers Law School.

She has written numerous articles about local affairs in Rockland Voice and has written a previous opinion piece addressed to Legislator Wieder entitled: An Open Letter To Legislator Wieder – Anti-Semitism, A Label Used As A Shield Against Scrutiny]

Fighting YAFFED – PEARS – A Concerted Effort to Keep Yeshiva Children Hostages Within their Own Community

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The New York Education Disgrace – The Ultra-Orthodox Children, State Sponsored Indoctrination and What If?

LostMessiah, 16 October 2018

If a Spanish speaking community wanted to set up its own schools where everything was taught in Spanish, no English (or minimal English) and where the children were not taught Evolution, Mathematics or subjects demonstrably able to give them a chance going forward, we would be horrified. If they demanded government funding (for computers and busing), it would be unequivocally denied. In fact, the more racist among us would be claiming that they are raising future drug-runners.

If a Muslim community want to live by Shaaria law (as opposed to a Va’ad or Beit Din (Rabbinical Court)), wanted to have their children taught in mosques and wanted to teach in Arabic only, we would have no part of it. The State would not even entertain the proposition. Not only would we probably be shutting the entire endeavor down, no matter how innocuous it all would likely be, we would be undoubtedly claiming that they are raising future terrorists, members of ISIS, suicide bombers; and they would likely be on every government watch list available.

If the Korean communities that teach their children mostly in Korean, teach versions of Christianity mixed with a heavy weight of teaching their children English, Science, Math, Music and other well-rounded subjects, wanted to stop teaching English and wanted to raise their children only speaking Korean and living by a different set of rules, we would not allow their schools to remain open and certainly not assisted with government funding.

And yet, here we are accepting (if not advocating for it PEARLS) a substandard education where children may be taught to reason using the Socratic Method of understanding Mishnah and Gemorrah (Jewish Texts) (maybe), but are not taught to work out a mathematics problem beyond grade 7. Here we are accepting the premise that because children are taught basic math through the numerological understanding of the Torah and its meanings, that it is enough. Here we are accepting, even entertaining a misleading claim that somehow 15 hours per day of religious education is enough to survive in a world (where others like secular Jews, non-Jews and others are supporting them). Somehow, we are accepting this Yeshiva double-standard? WHY?

If you don’t teach science, how will your 15 children be born? Who will treat an ear infection? What if the rest of us stopped accepting your business?

The children attending these ultra-Orthodox, insular and radicalized schools are taught to understand Jewish texts, a bastardized version of Yiddish spoken within their communities, and basic skills. They are given lessons in sexual education when they are old enough to procreate and not before. In nearly all cases they are not taught to assimilate. To the contrary, even a Jew not raised in that community is not “really a Jew.” In many cases they are taught the ways of the elders (namely how to survive by bilking the system (think Medicare and Medicaid). In some cases, they are exposed to sexual abuse and taught that to report is a “Moser” and therefore a sin. The children are wholly and completely indoctrinated.

And, may the truth be told if tomorrow the rabbis started to teach these children the lessons of radical Islam which Martyrs people willing to die for a cause, or any other radical belief system that many of us find so abhorrent, these children would listen. Why? Because they know nothing else. If the ultra-Orthodox community woke one day and wanted to weaponize their children, there would be nothing to stop them from doing so. In fact, in Israel there are communities where this is already happening. Children are being taught by Rabbinic leaders to throw stones, attack people who don’t keep the Sabbath, create chaos. Is this so far-fetched that it could happen stateside? And when do the lines get crossed from throwing stones to throwing bombs? What if? 

 

FIGHTING MOSTER: PEARLS Brief Defends Parents’ Rights To Choose Yeshiva Education

arents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools (PEARLS), an organization defending parents’ right to choose a yeshiva education for their children, has filed an amicus curiae brief defending yeshiva education from the misguided and inflammatory claims contained in a lawsuit filed by an organization named YAFFED. The brief, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, was co-signed by Agudath Israel of America, Torah Umesorah and the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg.

In its lawsuit, YAFFED challenges the constitutionality of a change in the New York education law – enacted in April, and widely known as the Felder Amendment – and uses that challenge as a launching pad for its all-out attack on the yeshiva system. YAFFED seeks to have the court supplant the Legislature, the State Education Department and the NYC Department of Education in setting education policy, and asks the court to direct SED and DOE to ignore the rich educational values students derive from their yeshiva education.

[RELATED – MOSTER CONTINUES HIS ATTACKS: YAFFED Sues NY State Over Hasidic Yeshiva Education; PEARLS Responds]

According to the PEARLS brief, “YAFFED cloaks its disappointment with the Legislature that enacted the Felder Amendment in constitutional garb”. However, the PEARLS brief points out that there is nothing in the constitution that prohibits consideration of the academic rigor and educational value of limudei kodesh, referred to in the Felder amendment as “the entirety of the curriculum.” Affidavits accompanying the brief, cite examples, predating the new law, where agencies looked at the multi-faceted yeshiva educational program when evaluating if it meets the bar of “substantial equivalency” to public school education.

The amicus brief also notes that the United States Supreme Court has time and again found that parents have a fundamental right to direct the educational paths of their children. That is not only a religious right, but also a fundamental parental right.

“While parents choose yeshiva education to fulfill a religious mission,” the brief says, “their ability to do so vindicates an important secular right – the fundamental right that has been repeatedly invoked by the United States Supreme Court to strike down state attempts to limit parental freedom to direct how their children are educated.”

The amicus brief counters YAFFED’s repeated claim that children who attend yeshiva do not receive critical tools and skill sets needed for long-term personal growth, and notes that “it has apparently not occurred to those who have established YAFFED that Chasidic parents utilize a different barometer than theirs for measuring a meaningful and successful life.”

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Yeshivah Education and New York State – Waiting on Commissioner Elia, State Funded Indoctrination?

http://www.fios1news.com/lowerhudsonvalley/ny-education-department-yeshiva-investigation#.W7uRY9NKiUm

NY Education Department under pressure to conclude yeshiva investigation

Fight over yeshiva education is in the hands of Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia

 

Albany, N.Y. — The New York State Education Department is under significant pressure to settle a 3-year investigation into yeshivas, Jewish schools that focus on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and the Torah.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will be making a decision on secular education in the schools and whether the institutions are abiding by state law. The investigation, which has been ongoing since July 2015, has been looking into the schools and whether they are providing adequate education to students in secular subjects like English, math, and science.

In August, a preliminary injunction was filed in federal court against the Board of Regents, the state education department, and the governor by an advocacy group known as “Young Advocates for a Fair Education” (YAFFED) to stop the enforcement of a amended education law named after state Sen. Simca Felder.

YAFFED claims that the amendment relaxes academic standards for ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools, exempting them from meeting state guidelines requiring “substantially equivalent” education as mandated in public schools.

“Every child in New York needs to receive an equal education,” said Naftuli Moster, the executive director of YAFFED. “As opposed to what Simca Felder recently rammed through the budget, which, as you know, is a special ‘carve-out’ for ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools. Most people don’t agree with that.”

On the other side of the issue is Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools (PEARLS), which supports education in yeshivas and is dedicated to protecting what they call the “fundamental bedrock” of religious learning.

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Yaffed Sues State, Cuomo Promises to Leave Education Untouched and Tish James Joins Cuomo Ticket- Education in NY?

Group sues state over yeshivas

GROUP SUES STATE FOR GREATER YESHIVA OVERSIGHT — POLITICO’s Madina TouréAn organization seeking to reform curricula in yeshivas is suing the state over legislation that, in the group’s view, protects the schools from proper oversight. The organization — Young Advocates for Fair Education, also known as Yaffed — filed the suit on Monday morning in Brooklyn federal court. It named Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa as defendants. Lawyers from the firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan are representing Yaffed pro bono.

“Ultra-orthodox yeshivas, by our estimates, receive hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year,” said Naftuli Moster, Yaffed’s founder and executive director, at a press conference in Manhattan announcing the lawsuit.”This is clearly a problem and a problem that elected officials in New York have known about for decades and instead of improving the situation, the state allowed one lawmaker, Simcha Felder, who represents the interests of yeshiva leaders, to hijack the state budget process to ensure inclusion of an amendment that exempts ultra-Orthodox yeshivas statewide from having to provide a proper secular education,” Moster continued.

Felder, a Democratic state senator from Brooklyn who has been caucusing with Senate Republicans since he was elected in 2012, was accused of holding up the $168 billion state budget earlier this year until the state acquiesced to his request for yeshivas to be exempt from curriculum requirements. He provides the Senate GOP with a key 32nd vote. The final budget gave the state Education Department the authority to address the issue for bilingual teaching for a greater number of hours, a requirement that yeshivas fulfill.

The group contends that the state’s action flouts the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bans the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion” or “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

“The carve-out in the Felder Amendment is actually defined in a way that only those ultra-Orthodox yeshivas are included within that carve-out,” said Eric Huang, lead counsel for Yaffed. “These are defined by the fact that they’re nonprofits, that they have a bilingual program and that their education program is marked by very long days.” Read more here.