City Hall Needs to Take Complaints about NYC Yeshivas Seriously
New York Post
April 10, 2016
Kids in New York’s public schools aren’t learning because the education model is broken. But students in ultra-Orthodox yeshivas aren’t learning, critics charge, because they just aren’t being taught.
State law requires private and parochial schools to provide instruction “at least substantially equivalent” to that in public schools.
But last week, parents and former students claimed 39 ultra-Orthodox day schools in Brooklyn and Queens don’t provide even the most basic instruction in subjects like English, math and science.
Students between the ages of 7 and 13, they charge, get only six hours a week of English and math — and no science or history at all. English instruction for boys stops completely after age 13, leaving them lacking in basic skills and unprepared for the workforce.
Last summer, the Department of Education agreed to look into the complaints, though not with on-site inspections. Instead, it agreed to query the yeshivas and evaluate the responses.
But the critics now say the investigation — which DOE said would be completed by this spring — has barely even begun. They claim that’s because Team de Blasio fears alienating the Orthodox community.
There are complicated issues here, including the right to religious freedom and just how intrusive a role government should be allowed to play in private education. Nor is this issue limited to New York.
But the law is clear — and reasonable. Parents have a right to provide their children with a full religious education — but they also have an obligation to provide at least a fundamental secular one.
City Hall insists politics aren’t at play here. Mayor de Blasio says he has “zero tolerance for the kind of educational failure alleged.”
He needs to prove it, by treating the complaints seriously. Sooner rather than later.