DNAInfo is publishing a series of reports this week on the haredi school system in NYC. What it found is what I've reported previously and which many of you know firsthand – many, if not most, haredi schools teach little or no secular subjects. By law, these yeshivas and schools have to give their students a secular education that is equivalent to what students are offered in public school. But they do not do that and the state and city look the other way, even as the federal government tries to demand accountability.
Here are brief highlights from the DNAInfo report:
• Satmar's United Talmudical Academy admits that it barely reaches secular studies. “We teach math, English, some social studies and some science,” [Rabbi Sholom] Skaist said. “They do not have secular studies in all the grades, only from fourth to eighth grade.”
• Chabad's Oholei Torah does not teach any secular subjects while United Lubavitcher Yeshiva does.
DNAInfo doesn't explain why this is, though.
The reason the two schools have different policies regarding secular education is that ULY was started under the 6th Rebbe Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn. He told ULY to include some secular studies, in large part because in the 1940s, few if any parents would have sent their children to a school that did not have a secular studies program. The 7th Rebbe founded Oholei Torah and positioned it as a more 'frum' school that ULY. Oholei Torah was (and still is) called the Rebbe's school, and it hs no secular curriculum because Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the 7th Chabad-Lubavitch rebbe, orded it not to teach them.
• Under both New York State and federal regulations, all schools, public and private, must offer "equivalency of instruction" in basic general subjects including American history, science, English and math. (The state does give an exemption to religious students to skip evolution questions on the Regents exam. However, the religious schools still must teach science.