The Professor Adina Schick Affidavit and Yeshiva Education – Misleading Interpretation – Part I


Misleading and Uninformed – Further Keeping Children Hostage – The Affidavit of Professor Adina Schick and What it Fails to Understand

We are posting the following letter and the Professor Adina Schick affidavit. Professor Shick is worthy or praise in her own right for the work she has done and all that she has accomplished. This is not intended to be a personal attack and should not be viewed as such. We have not researched Professor Schick’s upbringing, her background or anything else about her to see if she was a Yeshiva student, or if she is affiliated with an ultra-Orthodox community. 

As a general matter, her affidavit raises Common Core standards which in our view is problematic to begin with because there are few public schools in the State of New York that are keen on continuing the Common Core standards. Common Core was a faulty premise to begin with and a number of states have already done away with them. 

Her affidavit appears to disregard the fact that if students are given public funding for education they should be required to meet public requirements. It was clearly not an affidavit intended for that purpose. It was intended to ask a limited question: “Can children taught in Yeshiva be meeting the same standards as public school children?” Her response, in our view, is wholly misleading. 

Professor Schick fails to mention that the Talmud is written in Aramaic. Much of the studying in Yiddish (not English) may be a linguistic accomplishment for the children learning to understand these two languages but does nothing for children who need to function in country where English is the language of daily living. The children are not taught to understand science, mathematics, physics or anything about their physical realm except through the Aramaic words in the Talmud and while one might be able to extend some sort of imaginary parallel between the two, the focus within the Yeshiva context does not draw that parallel. 

We receive the following from a concerned reader and thought we should post: 

Dear Lost Messiah:

“This affidavit is extremely problematic and misleading. The fact remains, the Talmud is written in Aramaic. The language of instruction in the 39 chasidic yeshivas affected by the new guidelines is in yiddish. There is simply no way the Next Generation English Language Standards can be met through the study of Talmud in yiddish.”


Page 6:

14. In the middle school years, for example, Next Generation English Language Standards such as Literacy and Informational Text Reading Standards (e.g., Key Ideas and Details; Craft and Structure; Integration of Knowledge and Ideas); Speaking and Listening Standards (e.g., Comprehension and Collaboration; Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas); Language Standards (e.g., Vocabulary Acquisition and Use), as well as Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies and Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects can be met. 


Opinion Piece – Orthodox Yeshivas, Substantially Similar Education and NYS


Don’t let ultra-Orthodox Yeshivas get away with this: A judge must rule for the state as it seeks to ensure basic educational equivalence in non-public schools

As early as Friday, a judge may decide whether or not the New York State Education Department can proceed to enforce new guidelines for religious and private schools. These guidelines are designed to make sure that private schools are meeting the legal requirement to provide an education that’s “substantially equivalent” to public schools. Sounds reasonable, right? Not to the unholy trinity of yeshivas, Catholic schools and inexplicably some elite private schools, like Brearley and Packer Collegiate, which are suing to prevent any oversight whatsoever.

Until recently, New York State did not enforce its own education standards. And while many private and Catholic schools pride themselves on providing a high quality education that’s even superior to public schools, the consequences have been devastating for students in Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox yeshivas.

In 2015, our group, Young Advocates for Fair Education (Yaffed), filed a complaint with New York City alleging educational neglect in hundreds of Hasidic yeshivas. That neglect has deprived approximately thousands of ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic children of a basic education. In our experience, on average a Hasidic boy receives just 90 minutes of secular instruction in elementary and middle school and no secular instruction at all in high school. The results are damning. The Hasidic neighborhoods in New York State are among the poorest in the state and even the country.


The city has been pathetically slow to act, and so the state stepped up to revise its guidelines in an attempt to clarify them for local authorities tasked with determining and enforcing the substantial equivalency standard. On Nov. 20, 2018, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia released the revised guidelines, which triggered vitriolic opposition from Hasidic yeshivas and their supporters.

The guidelines do not differ significantly from previous versions. They require the teaching of the basics, such as English, math, science and social studies.


Catholic and other non-public schools would easily pass any substantial equivalency test, but instead they’ve rallied to the defense of the ultra-Orthodox Yeshivas, which make no secret of the fact that they haven’t and won’t provide their students with a full secular education.


It’s mind-boggling, because most of the non-Yeshiva schools would barely face any scrutiny at all. Registered high schools go through a more rigorous review by the state in order to be eligible for Regents diplomas, so they would be exempt from an additional substantial equivalency review. Accredited schools, including the majority of private schools, would be subject to only a cursory review, as the district’s substantial equivalency review will take the accreditation determination into consideration. But some Yeshivas, the worst offenders no less, are fighting to remain completely independent from government scrutiny, even as they receive millions in federal, state and local subsidies. Some Hasidic Yeshivas’ budgets are covered two-thirds by government funding, and only one third from tuition.


Even a full review can hardly be considered intrusive. Superintendents or their designees must visit all non-public schools once within the next two to three years and once every five years thereafter. As part of that visit, local officials would look at the instruction being done in the schools and would also collect documentation that demonstrates adherence to the guidelines.

To continue reading click here.

Yeshiva vs. State – New York State and Substantially Similar Education


“Further, the PEARLS Petitioners failed to submit evidence that they have suffered concrete constitutional harm from the issuance of the Updated Guidance. The record contains no evidence that the Updated Guidance’s interpretation and recommendations regarding substantial equivalence conflicts irreconcilably with Yeshiva curriculum; no evidence of what secular message the Yeshivas believe they are being forced to deliver in conflict with their beliefs; no evidence of what part or parts of the Yeshivas’ curricula they would be forced to alter; no evidence of what type of efforts, if any, Yeshivas may have to make to attain substantial equivalency; no evidence of how compliance with the substantial equivalence standard will impair their ability to practice their religion or impede their way of life; and no evidence of any current or impending impact on the operation of their schools. Accordingly, this matter may not be determined as a purely legal question.”

Where are the Democratic Leaders When Democratic Officials Are Speaking Out AGAINST Education Oversight in NY?




Legislator Aron Wieder, educators speak out against yeshiva oversight

SPRING VALLEY – Educators at a boys yeshiva said Tuesday that the state’s guidelines for a substantially equivalent education would be prohibitive to their students’ studies.

“It infringes on our religious rights,” said Rabbi Moshe Schwab, the principal of Yeshiva Degel HaTorah. “We’re begging the commissioner to reconsider because … it’s going to infringe on the good educational system that we have. We know we have to have equivalency and we think we not only have equivalent, we’re superior.”

His pleas were targeted at a previously ignored 70-year-old law stating private school education needs to be “substantially equivalent” to public school, which gained traction a few years ago when state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia updated guidelines to enforce it.

YAFFED’S yeshiva oversight suit dismissed; federal court cites lack of ‘standing’

New yeshiva education guidelines aren’t a declaration of war, they’re the law

To read the article in its entirety click here.

Do Not Educate Our Children, G-d Forbid They Should Actually Be Doctors, Lawyers, Productive Members of Society

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Protesters: Religious education at yeshivas should remain unchanged

WEST NYACK –Several people from the Orthodox Jewish community in West Nyack protested changes being made to religious education.

Concerned families and school leaders say they don’t want to change how they are educating students at local yeshivas.

“This country was based on freedom of religion and freedom of speech. They’ve had this education for thousands of years. This is why we came out here,” said one protester.

The state Education Department held a training session with all of the school districts in Rockland County at BOCES located on Parrott Road.

School officials say the state spoke about the need to guarantee that private schools are getting substantial equivalency of instruction that are in public schools.

They say it’s to ensure that all students receive the education to which they are entitled.

Clarkstown police say a 36-year-old man from Blooming Grove was arrested during the protest for urinating in public.



The Archdiocese and the Ultra-Orthodox Sharing Anti-Children’s Rights Causes: Apartheid – Faith – Based Education

New York should compel its religious schools to accept public oversight


Leaders of Jewish and Catholic private school systems in New York are refusing to accommodate curricula oversight by the state’s Education Department.

new york religious schools reject oversight
Parked school bus of United Talmudical Academy, a Jewish school in Brooklyn, New York. (Anulla, Flikr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

According to an article in Church & State, the online magazine of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, leaders of New York Catholic schools in December wrote this to state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia:

“We write to inform you that the New York State Council of Catholic School Superintendents, representing some 500 Catholic schools, rejects the recently released ‘substantial equivalency’ guidelines and is directing all diocesan Catholic schools not to participate in any review carried out by local public school officials.”

Mostly religious studies

The recent dust-up started in 2015, when news media began reporting on the quality of education offered at another religion’s private schools in New York — ultra-Orthodox Jewish yeshivas — when it became known that their students were mostly being taught the Torah, Judaism’s primary text, but very little about secular subjects, including English, science and mathematics.

“As a result, students were emerging from these schools with essentially no skills that made them, employable in any field outside of narrow religious studies,” the Church & State article noted.

Because New York government education officials didn’t want to unfairly single out schools of any religious tradition in their oversight of all schools curricula — public and private — they decided to have public school officials inspect each religious school every five years to make sure they were offering adequate instruction in non-religious subjects.

As did the Catholic school leaders, officials of Jewish schools also refused to cooperate with state officials in any educational oversight of their programs.

The protest even had an international connection. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported late in 2018 that Aharon Teitelbaum, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Satmar Hasidic group (which has a significant presence in New York City) vowed that “the Jewish people will not surrender to the wicked … even the state education commissioner.”

Teitelbaum even threatened the take his case to the Democratic Party now dominating the leadership of New York politics.

“It wouldn’t pay for them to start a war with all God-fearing Jewry in New York,” he said, according to the Church & State article.

So, what is this brouhaha really about?

New York public education officials promulgated new guidelines last year to assess the quality of classroom curricula at the state’s private schools and ensure that what they offer is “substantially equivalent” to that of public schools. This means instruction should match that of standard secular subjects taught at public schools.

Sounds reasonable enough, right?

But religious school don’t trust the public school system.

Faith vs. knowledge

As James Culrara, executive secretary of the state Council of Catholic School Superintendents, told the Albany (NY) Times-Union:

“We simply cannot accept a competing school having authority over whether our schools can operate.” (italics mine).

In fact, public and religious schools are not in competition with each other. Ostensibly, they are part of a shared educational system whose primary aim is to provide children with a broad, so-called “liberal” education that essentially teaches them about the realities of existence, not necessarily the surrealities (except perhaps in literature and art).

The problem is that religious schools tend to want to focus on theology rather than actuality. If you don’t know how huge a problem these schools (including homeschools) are for many of their students, take some time and read posts in the blog titled Recovering from Religion. You might also read a lovely, heartbreaking memoir titled Educated by a young, homeschooled woman named Tara Westover who eventually broke free only discover her almost debilitating ignorance about the real world.

Faith vs. reason

Fundamentalist religious schools tend to embrace the idea that anything not of God should not be prioritized. It can an aggressively inward faith of the type promoted by St. Augustine and Martin Luther, who held that reason and knowledge are not only largely unnecessary in human existence but a kind of sin to pursue. Why, Luther asked, try to understand something that is not understandable? Just believe. And if you don’t? Fake it till you make it.

Unfortunately, many kids who come out of fundamentalist religious schools often understand a lot about their religions and dangerously little about anything else.

This kind of apartheid education should be denounced, particularly in America, whose founders were Enlightenment men who emphatically wanted their new nation to honor fact over fiction, reason over religion, especially in the affairs of state, .