New York City’s plan for investigating 38 haredi yeshivas in Brooklyn and one in Queens to see if they are providing adequate secular education to their students won’t include site visits or, it seems, much else. Instead, the city will rely completely on voluntary information provided it by the allegedly noncompliant haredi schools themselves.
NYC’s Plan To Ensure Haredi Yeshivas Teach Secular Subjects Appears To Be A Fraud Meant To Allow Continued Noncompliance
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
New York City’s plan for investigating 38 haredi yeshivas in Brooklyn and one in Queens to see if they are providing adequate secular education to their students won’t include site visits or, it seems, much else, the Jewish Week reported. Instead, the city will rely entirely on information provided by the yeshivas themselves.
52 people signed a letter to the New York City Department of Education last week that says boys 13 and over get no secular education at the 39 yeshivas, which are all believed to be affiliated with hasidic movements. Boys 12 and under were given a total of six hours of English and math instruction each week but got no science or history instruction at all, according to the letter.
A city Department of Education official told the Jewish Week its investigation into the schools would begin “soon.” But that purported investigation will be limited to sending each school “a set of requests” – nothing more.
“Superintendents will consider the responses to these requests in determining whether the schools are following state guidelines and are delivering substantially equivalent instruction to that provided by the city's public schools. If the superintendent determines that substantially equivalent instruction is not being provided by the non-public school, the superintendent will work with the non-public school to develop a plan to remediate deficiencies,” an Department of Education official told the paper.
The city’s planned method of investigation was quickly ridiculed by advocates for better secular education in haredi schools and their attorney.
“I’m not discounting anyone’s credibility, but it’s easy to say something on paper. It’s important for the DOE to see what’s actually happening in yeshivas. So if that’s all they’re going to do, it could have some serious problems with Yaffed and myself. The investigation should be thorough, independent and fair, and what they’re proposing at this point most likely will not meet that criteria,” noted civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, who is representing the advocates’ organization Yaffed, said.
The Department of Education was vague about what exact information it would be requesting from these allegedly noncompliant schools, but reportedly said it would include information like student schedules.
The department did not answer questions about why it will not do site inspections of the school and did not say how or even if – it had a plan to determine of the information provided by the schools to the department is accurately representing what actually is happening in the schools.
The Department of Education also did not answer the following questions posed to it by the Jewish Week: Does 90 minutes of secular education per day meet the state requirement? Are schools required to teach science, history and other secular subjects in addition to English and math?
A former English and math teacher at Satmar’s United Talmudical Academy in Williamsburg told the Jewish Week UTA gave him lesson plans that could be seen as meeting state standards. But he noted that he was unable to follow those lesson plans because, unsurprisingly, UTA’s students lacked the basic English and math skills to follow them.