An Orthodox Jewish Nobel Laureate Advocates for Yeshiva Accountability in a Dual Education for Children.

Professor Yisrael Aumann is a Nobel Prize-winning Israeli mathematician. He is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has held visiting positions at Princeton, Yale, Berkeley, Louvain, Stanford, Stony Brook, and NYU.

We Must Work Together So That All Yeshiva Students Get a Dual Education

In last week’s Torah reading, Moshe Rabbeinu commands us to choose life — “Uvacharta Bachaim.” From this, the Talmud Yerushalmi in Kiddushin derives that a father must teach his son a trade and thus provide him with a livelihood. In this Talmudic passage, Rabbi Yehuda puts it bluntly: “If a father doesn’t teach his son a trade, it’s as if he taught him highway robbery.”

So it should come as no surprise that, as a frum Jew, I believe that our yeshivas should provide robust secular studies alongside an uncompromised Torah education.

hen my family fled from Germany to the United States in 1938, they enrolled me in a religious elementary school in Boro Park. When it was time to choose a high school, I decided on the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva (RJJ) on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

After finishing university in the 1950s, I made aliyah to Jerusalem, and since then have pursued an academic career; but I’ll always remember my yeshiva experience as an exceptionally positive one that had a lasting impact on my life. For that reason, when the lawyers of Agudath Israel asked me for an affidavit describing my experience in yeshiva to urge the New York State Education Department not to intervene in the dual education provided by yeshivas like RJJ, I was glad to provide it.

As I wrote in my affidavit, “The immersive, time-consuming experience of deep Talmud study in an educational setting such as RJJ is absolutely necessary for the continuity of Orthodox Jewish life and practice. We were taught not merely a religion, but a way of life. And in that way of life, we were taught — and to this day I repeat daily — ‘Talmud Torah Kenneged Kulam’: the study of Torah is as important as all other religious observance put together.”

Shortly after news of the affidavit was reported in the Yeshiva World News website under the headline “INCREDIBLE: Nobel Prize Winner & Yeshiva Graduate To NYS Education Dept: ‘Talmud Torah Knegged Kulam!’” I got an email from a Chasidic yeshiva graduate that I found deeply upsetting. He informed me that he himself had received no secular instruction at all; and that most Chasidic yeshivas teach only a few hours a week of sub-par secular studies in elementary school and none at all in high school.

The picture that was painted for me — and later confirmed by other Chasidic graduates and parents of current students — is of young men who often graduate without even the basic skills to operate professionally. In many cases, this leads to poverty, and also to a sense of insuperable handicap.

Having left New York well over 60 years ago, all this was a revelation to me. Despite the distance, I find it impossible to ignore the genuine distress of the young men with whom I corresponded and the grave wrong being perpetrated on generations of children.

I stand behind every word in the affidavit; but knowing what I know now, I ask the public to read it with an emphasis that is perhaps a little different. Namely, that “I had wonderful experiences with BOTH secular and Jewish studies at RJJ. … The credit for my academic success belongs to Mr. Joey Gansler and to the mathematics he taught at RJJ. … If I were asked today to advise Jewish teens who have been admitted to both Stuyvesant and a yeshiva high school about which to attend, I would absolutely recommend that they attend a DUAL-curriculum yeshiva such as RJJ.”

We must continue vehemently to oppose government oversight and intrusion in yeshivas. The government has no right to dictate how we run our schools. But as my affidavit indicates, it does have a right to see to it that all children get a basic secular education that will enable them to be productive members of society. And that is also the Halacha.

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The Tragedy Surrounding How Children are Educated and the Rifts Within a Community Worldwide [Video]

Apparently depicted in this video: An English Rabbi being harassed by Protesters because he has taken a liberal view on education, as the government in England (similar to New York) moves to enforce guidelines on teachings in private schools.

 

The following is a beautifully articulated article by Rabbi Pini Dunner regarding education. It is a follow-up of other articles he has written. Respectfully, we have only posted part of his comments, without permission, and ask that you consult his original text for his full commentary by clicking here.  We believe, though could be wrong, that the controversy to which he is referring is the scene depicted in the video above. 

STAND AND DELIVER

Earlier this week, I briefly visited New York for a wedding, and once again I came face-to-face with the controversy that continues to rage over proposed education regulations formulated by the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

Feelings are running high, and the campaign to thwart the said proposals is in full swing. Many within the orthodox community are convinced that this scheme is the thin end of a very insidious wedge, and they include those whose schools provide a very good general studies education.

Quite a number of the people I spoke to believe that allowing the authorities to determine how and what is taught at Jewish private schools poses a grave danger to the future of orthodox Jewry in America.

But how did we get here? How is it possible that a bunch of bureaucrats in Albany has managed to rattle the orthodox community to this extent?

Why is it, if so many schools are compliant with equivalency requirements, that NYSED wants to institute these draconian measures to regulate and oversee them?

Incidentally, whatever happens in New York will surely foreshadow similar legislation in other states. There is a broad concern among education officials that Jewish private schools are not in compliance with basic educational requirements, and that children who attend these schools are being shortchanged by their institutions, to the extent that they will “graduate” without the basic skills required to provide for themselves and – once they marry and have kids – their families.

In the Satmar Hasidic community this whole episode is being painted in very stark terms. Last month, the various factions within Satmar (please note: it is no small feat to unite this very divided community) issued a powerful declaration regarding the dangers posed by the proposed regulations.

In a vigorous call to arms, the leadership requested that the “honored parents” of students in their various institutions join a letter-writing campaign to the authorities to ensure the failure of the “evil education decree” which threatens the status-quo, and which – they claim – might result in the devastation and destruction of Torah-true Jewish education in New York.

And this week twelve Hasidic institutions published a notice to announce that they would never include “common core” education books in their general studies curriculum under any circumstances, as they are full of “heresy”, and their only intent is to prepare those who use them for a college education.

Meanwhile, thousands of parents within the Satmar community and other associated Hasidic communities, including many who have sent letters to NYSED so that they openly comply with the mandated letter-writing campaign, are secretly hopeful that the state will impose the regulations on their children’s schools so that the next generation will be forced to learn English and math, and be properly equipped for life in twenty-first century America.

I have received hundreds of emails and calls since my last article on this subject, the vast majority from Hasidic parents congratulating me for my stance, and imploring me not to abandon them and their children to a life of ignorance and penury.

One parent wrote to me that his children only speak Yiddish, as their school does not allow them to speak English at home, otherwise they are in danger of being expelled. This means, said my correspondent, that his children do not know the English names of the days of the week, nor do they know their English dates of birth, nor can they explain to the doctor what their symptoms are when they require medical attention.

These children, it is worth noting, are all third-generation Americans. How is it that if they were Jews from the former Soviet Union, or living in low-income industrial towns in Israel, that we would do everything we could to help them gain a foothold in life, but just because they live in Williamsburg, or Monsey, or New Square, we do nothing to help them, and simply write them off? How does it make any sense that hundreds of thousands of Jewish children are being doomed to a life of poverty right under our very noses?

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If a School Takes Public Money it Should Be Required to Pass Public Education Standards, at Least

Learn your lesson: Every school needs to pass muster from the government experts

Let the state in to check. (Roca, John)

Learn your lesson: Every school needs to pass muster from the government experts

Some of the toniest private schools in New York, places that deliver an exemplary secular education to their kids, are going to war against new state regulations arm in arm with a small subset of ultra-Orthodox yeshivas that are failing to teach their kids English, math, science and other core subjects. For shame.

Back in May, the state Education Department issued new proposed rules to ensure that non-public schools live up to the legal obligation to deliver a “substantially equivalent” education to their students. That’s long been the guarantee under law; where the rubber meets the reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, there’s been virtually no enforcement.

And for years, a small sliver of religious schools in the Hasidic community — not all Jewish schools by any stretch, and not all Hasidic ones either — have been neglecting to teach kids the basics, despite pocketing millions in public money.

This must end. The only way to make it end is to step up state oversight, which means starting periodic and unobtrusive visits to all non-public schools. It’s just not constitutional for the state to single out Jewish K-12 institutions for scrutiny .

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Chareidim in England and Education – Campaign Against Inspectorate Stopped

Charedi Activist Drops Campaign Against Ofsted

Charedi activist Shraga Stern has agreed to stop his public campaign against Ofsted.

London’s charedi community has been split over how to handle the inspectorate’s attitudes toward Jewish schools. Chinuch UK preferred a diplomatic approach toward the Department of Education and its inspectorate whereas Stern initiated a high-profile campaign accompanied by the threat of legal action.

Last week, Dayan Ephraim Padwa of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations asked Stern to back down from his campaign. Stern told The Jewish Press, “I’ve always worked under the direction of the senior rabbis of the charedi community. I continue to do so. At the moment I am ceasing campaigning on their instructions.”

He added that he was sure his high-profile campaign has borne fruit and “now is the time for open dialogue and round-the-table discussions.”

Stern’s tough stance, however, seems to have been taken up by educational consultant Michael Cohen, who called, in the Jewish Tribune, for the dismissal of Ofsted head Amanda Spielman, whom he accused of conducting an “anti-religious programme.”

He suggested Jewish schools should not allow Ofsted to inspect their schools; alternatively, they should or arrange school outings on inspection days. He wrote, “As any kind of trust and confidence in Ofsted has been destroyed, our schools and mosdos should become more strident and assertive in dealing with Ofsted inspections.”

Education and Substantial Equivalence Language, New York State – Comment Submission Period

Comments Should be Submitted to:

Christina Coughlin, NY Education Department, SORIS, 89 Washington Avenue, Room 1075 EBA, Albany, NY 12234, (518) 474-7206, email:seregcomments@nysed.gov

Substantially Equivalent Instruction for Nonpublic School Students

NY-ADR

7/3/19 N.Y. St. Reg. EDU-27-19-00010-P
NEW YORK STATE REGISTER
VOLUME XLI, ISSUE 27
July 03, 2019
RULE MAKING ACTIVITIES
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
PROPOSED RULE MAKING
NO HEARING(S) SCHEDULED
I.D No. EDU-27-19-00010-P

Substantially Equivalent Instruction for Nonpublic School Students

PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE State Administrative Procedure Act, NOTICE is hereby given of the following proposed rule:
Proposed Action:
Addition of Part 130 to Title 8 NYCRR.
Statutory authority:
Education Law, sections 207, 215, 305(1), (2), 3204(1), (2), (3), 3205(1), 3210(2) and 3234
Subject:
Substantially Equivalent Instruction for Nonpublic School Students.
Purpose:
Provide guidance to local school authorities to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities under the Compulsory Education Law.
Substance of proposed rule (Full text is posted at the following State website: http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/rules/full-text-indices):
The purpose of the proposed regulation is to provide guidance to local school authorities (LSAs) to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities under Education Law §§ 3204, 3205, and 3210 in determining whether students in nonpublic schools are receiving instruction that is at least substantially equivalent to the instruction being provided to students of like age and attainments at the public schools. The intent of the substantial equivalency process is to ensure that all students receive the education to which they are entitled under the law. The substantial equivalency process must be a collaborative effort between LSAs and nonpublic schools.
The proposed regulation requires LSAs to make substantial equivalency determinations for all nonpublic schools within their geographical boundaries, except registered high schools, state-approved private special education schools, state-operated and state-supported schools, which are already subject to Department review, and nonpublic schools for which the Commissioner is required to make a substantial equivalency determination pursuant to Education Law § 3204(2)(ii)-(iii). Pursuant to Education Law § 3204(2)(ii)-(iii), the Commissioner is responsible for making final determinations on substantial equivalency reviews for nonpublic schools that meet the enumerated statutory criteria.
For schools that meet the statutory criteria for a Commissioner’s determination, LSAs must review such schools for substantial equivalency and forward a recommendation and supporting documentation to the Commissioner for his/her final determination.
The Department is proposing the following recommended timelines:
• New nonpublic schools that open on or after the effective date of the proposed regulation must be reviewed and all recommendations and final determinations should be made within three years of when the nonpublic school commences instruction and regularly thereafter.
• Existing nonpublic schools that are operating on the effective date of the proposed regulation must be reviewed and all recommendations and final determinations should be made by the end of the 2022-2023 school year or as soon as practicable thereafter and regularly thereafter.
The proposed regulation also recommends regular contact and communication between public and nonpublic schools, in an effort to keep each other informed of important updated information.
The proposed regulation states that substantial equivalency reviews and determinations should be conducted in a flexible and inclusive manner and should be the result of a collaboration between the LSA and the nonpublic school. Five core principles, defined in the regulation, are essential to the review process: objective, mindful, sensitive, respectful, and consistent.
The proposed regulation sets forth a recommended procedure for substantial equivalency reviews. Prior to commencing a substantial equivalency review, the LSA, after consulting with the nonpublic school, shall determine whether the Commissioner is responsible for making the final determination pursuant to Education Law § 3204(2)(ii) or (iii), or whether the LSA is responsible for making such final determination. Except for registered nonpublic high schools, state-approved private special education schools, state-operated schools and state supported schools, the superintendent or his/her designee (which may include a BOCES, where authorized under § 1950 of the Education Law) should review all nonpublic schools in the LSA’s geographic boundaries, including nonpublic schools that meet the criteria for a Commissioner’s determination, and, in conducting such reviews, the LSA must use the criteria outlined in the proposed regulation. For schools that meet the criteria for a Commissioner’s final determination, the LSA conducts the review using the appropriate criteria and makes a recommendation to the Commissioner for his/her final determination.
The proposed regulation recommends that a substantial equivalency review should be conducted by a team of at least two individuals, including individuals with expertise in instruction and the ability to communicate well with the nonpublic school community.
The proposed regulation sets forth a recommended procedure for LSAs to render determinations regarding substantial equivalency. If there are concerns about the substantial equivalency of the instruction, the proposed regulation recommends, among other things, that the LSA and nonpublic school work collaboratively to develop a clear plan and timeline, including benchmarks and targets, for attainting substantial equivalency in an amount of time that is reasonable given the concerns identified. The proposed regulation indicates that services must continue to nonpublic school students during any period for attaining substantial equivalency.
If, after the consultation described above, the concerns identified are addressed appropriately, the following steps should occur:
• the superintendent or his/her designee should inform the board of education in writing that the nonpublic school appears to be at least substantially equivalent.
• the LSA should send written notification to the administration of the nonpublic school and provide a letter for the nonpublic school to distribute to parents;
• the LSA must notify SORIS of the positive determination; and
• the superintendent or designee should share the positive finding with superintendents of school districts in which the nonpublic school’s students reside.
If, after the consultation described above, the concerns cannot be remedied or if the nonpublic school does not make the changes necessary to achieve substantial equivalency, the following steps should occur:
• The superintendent or designee should notify the board of education that the nonpublic school does not appear to be substantially equivalent, and the board of education will vote and make a final determination in a regularly scheduled, public board meeting.
• The LSA should notify nonpublic school administration of the date that the board of education will consider the matter of substantial equivalency.
• The nonpublic school should be provided an opportunity to present additional relevant materials and/or a written statement to the board of education prior to its determination.
• The LSA must provide written notification to the administration of the nonpublic school and the parents or persons in parental relationship to students attending the nonpublic school of such determination and that the students will be considered truant if they continue to attend that school.
• The board must provide a reasonable timeframe, giving due consideration to the statutory and regulatory timeframes for services to nonpublic school students, for parents or persons in parental relationship to identify and enroll their children in a different appropriate educational setting, consistent with Education Law § 3204.
• SORIS must be notified of the negative determination in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner.
• Required services to the nonpublic school and must continue until the end of the reasonable timeframe.
• Student records shall be managed consistent with section 104.2 of this Title.
Additionally, the proposed regulation requires LSAs to report the following information to SORIS by September 1, 2020 and each September 1 thereafter:
• List of all nonpublic schools within the LSA’s geographical boundaries.
• List of all nonpublic schools in LSA’s boundaries that are state-approved private special education schools, state-operated schools, and state-supported schools.
• List of all the nonpublic schools in the LSA’s boundaries that are registered high schools pursuant to 8 NYCRR 100.2(p).
• List of all the nonpublic schools that are in the LSA’s boundaries that are not state-approved private special education schools, state-supported schools, state-operated schools, or registered high schools and are subject to Commissioner’s review pursuant to Education Law § 3204(2)(ii)-(iii).
• A list of the remaining nonpublic schools identified in the LSA’s boundaries for which the LSA is responsible for making the final substantial equivalency determination.
The proposed regulation also requires that, commencing on September 1, 2024 and each September 1 thereafter, LSAs must submit an attestation that they:
• Made a final substantial equivalency determination for each nonpublic school in their geographic area subject to their final determination, and
• Forwarded a substantial equivalency recommendation to the Commissioner for each nonpublic school in their geographic area that is subject to a final determination by the Commissioner.
The proposed regulation includes procedures for the Commissioner’s determination of substantial equivalency. For nonpublic schools for which the Commissioner is required to make a final determination, the LSA must conduct a review and forward its recommendation regarding substantial equivalency and all relevant documentation to support its recommendation to the Commissioner. The proposed regulation sets forth procedures for when a school subject to a Commissioner’s determination appears not to be substantially equivalent and for when the Commissioner renders a positive or negative substantial equivalency determination. Such procedures are similar to those described above for LSAs to follow when making a final determination.
The proposed regulation provides that, when making a substantial equivalency determination, an LSA, and the Commissioner, when he/she is responsible for making the final determination, must consider the following criteria:
• Instruction given only by a competent teacher.
• English is the language of instruction for common branch subjects.
• Appropriate programs for students who have limited English proficiency.
• Accreditation materials should be taken into account if a nonpublic school has been accredited within the last five years.
• Whether the instructional program in the nonpublic school incorporates instruction in the following subjects:
o during grades 1 through 6, mathematics, including arithmetic, science, and technology; English language arts; social studies; the arts; career development and occupational studies; health education, physical education, and family and consumer sciences. Instruction in these subjects may be integrated or incorporated into the syllabus or syllabi of other courses;
o during grades 7 and 8, mathematics (two units of study); English language arts (two units of study); social studies (two units of study); science (two units of study); career and technical education, wherein the unit of study requirement may be initiated in grade 5 (one and three-fourths units of study); physical education (similar courses of instruction to those required in public schools pursuant to section 135.4 of this Title); health education (one-half unit of study); visual arts (one-half unit of study); music (one-half unit of study); library and information skills, which may in incorporated or integrated into any other subjects (the equivalent of one period per week in grades 7 and 8); career development and occupational studies, which may be incorporated or integrated into any other subjects;
o during grades 9 through 12, instruction in English (four units of study); social studies (four units of study); mathematics (three units of study); science (three units of study); health (one-half unit of study); physical education (two units of study); the arts (one unit of study);
• Whether the nonpublic school meets other statutory instructional requirements, including requirements pursuant to Education Law §§ 305(52), 801, 803(4), 804, 806, 807, 808, 3204(3), (5); and 8 NYCRR §§ 100.2(c)(1), 100.2(c)(3)-(7), 100.2(c)(11).
• Pursuant to Education Law § 3204 for nonpublic elementary and middle schools subject to a Commissioner’s final determination pursuant to Education Law § 3204(2)(ii), the LSA, when making a recommendation and the Commissioner in his/her final determination, must take into consideration whether the school’s instructional program meets the criteria set forth in Education Law § 3204(2)(ii).
• For nonpublic high schools that meet the criteria for a Commissioner’s final determination pursuant to Education Law § 3204(2)(iii), the Commissioner and the LSA making a recommendation to the Commissioner will take into consideration whether the curriculum provides academically rigorous instruction that develops critical thinking skills in the school’s students, the outcomes of which, taking into account the entirety of the curriculum, result in a sound basic education.
The proposed regulation also sets forth the rights and responsibilities of parents and persons in a parental relationship to nonpublic school students, LSAs and nonpublic school leaders related to substantial equivalency determinations.
For the full text of the regulation, please refer to our website at http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/rules/full-text-indices.
Text of proposed rule and any required statements and analyses may be obtained from:
Kirti Goswami, NYS Education Department, Office of Counsel, 89 Washington Avenue, Room 112, Albany, NY 12234, (518) 474-6400, email: legal@nysed.gov
Data, views or arguments may be submitted to:
Christina Coughlin, NY Education Department, SORIS, 89 Washington Avenue, Room 1075 EBA, Albany, NY 12234, (518) 474-7206, email:seregcomments@nysed.gov
Public comment will be received until:
60 days after publication of this notice.
This rule was not under consideration at the time this agency submitted its Regulatory Agenda for publication in the Register.
Summary of Regulatory Impact Statement (Full text is posted at the following State website: http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/rulesandregs):
1. STATUTORY AUTHORITY:
Education Law 207 grants general rule-making authority to the Board of Regents to carry into effect the laws and policies of the State relating to education.
Education Law 215 authorizes the Commissioner to require schools and school districts to submit reports containing such information as Commissioner shall prescribe.
Education Law 305(1) empowers the Commissioner of Education to be the chief executive officer of the State system of education and the Board of Regents and authorizes the Commissioner to enforce laws relating to the educational system and to execute educational policies determined by the Board of Regents. Education Law section 305(2) authorizes the Commissioner to have general supervision over all schools subject to the Education Law.
Education Law 3204(1) provides that minors required to attend upon instruction pursuant to the Compulsory Education Law may attend at a public school or elsewhere.
Education Law 3204(2) requires, among other things, that instruction may be given only be a competent teacher, English shall be the language of instruction, and that instruction in nonpublic schools must be at least substantially equivalent to the instruction given to minors of like age and attainments at the public schools. Paragraph (ii) of that section requires the Commissioner to make final substantial equivalency determinations regarding (1) nonpublic elementary and middles schools that are non-profit corporations, have a bi-lingual program, and have an educational program that extends from no later than nine a.m. until no earlier than four p.m. for grades one through three, and no earlier than five thirty p.m. for grades four through eight, on the majority of weekdays and (2) nonpublic high schools that are established for pupils in high school who have graduated from an elementary school that provides instruction as described in Education Law 3204(2), are a non-profit corporation, have a bi-lingual program, and have an educational program that extends from no later than nine a.m. until no earlier than six p.m. on the majority of weekdays.
Education Law 3204(3) provides for required courses of study in the public schools and authorizes the State Education Department to alter such required subjects of instruction.
Education Law 3205(1) requires each child of compulsory school age to attend upon full time day instruction.
Education Law section 3210(2) provides the amount and character of required attendance for nonpublic school students, with the exception that a child may be permitted to attend for a shorter school day and/or year if the instruction received has been approved by the local school authorities as being substantially equivalent in amount and quality to that required by the Compulsory Education Law.
Education Law section 3234 gives the Commissioner authority to supervise enforcement of the Compulsory Education Law by withholding public school moneys for certain failures to enforce the Compulsory Education Law.

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