Wednesday, April 13, 2016

39 Brooklyn yeshivos have been sued for not providing a useful secular education: Naftuli Moster of Yaffed says city is dragging its feet

Chaim Levin & report card - NY Times
Update: Just added a post dealing directly with the  Importance of secular studies

 update: added the original complaint
NY Times  A group representing parents and former students at ultra-Orthodox yeshivas accused the de Blasio administration on Wednesday of dragging its feet in investigating their schools, out of fear of alienating a constituency that the mayor has assiduously courted.

In July, 52 parents, former students and former teachers sent a letter to New York City’s Education Department saying that 39 yeshivas were violating state law by not providing students, particularly boys, an adequate education in secular subjects like English, math and science. The Education Department said then that it would conduct an investigation of the yeshivas, located in Brooklyn and Queens.

But on Wednesday, the group behind the letter held a news conference in front of City Hall to express its frustration with the lack of any apparent progress in the investigation.

“It’s eight months later, and there’s no sign of a serious investigation taking place,” Naftuli Moster, the leader of the group, Young Advocates for Fair Education, said. “In fact, all indications are that the D.O.E. is just stalling us. In the meantime, tens of thousands of boys — we estimate around 30,000 — are not getting a basic education.”


The group’s lawyer, Norman Siegel, a longtime advocate for civil liberties, said he believed the reason the investigation was stalled was that city officials did not want to cross ultra-Orthodox leaders. [...]

Chaim Levin, 26, who attended the news conference, said that when he was a child, his yeshiva, Oholei Torah in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, offered no English education at all. He showed his third-grade report card, which listed marks in prayer, the study of Torah and Talmud, Hebrew spelling, penmanship, Yiddish and Jewish history. He said he was now in his second semester of college and was hoping to become a lawyer, but that he was dreading having to take a math class, because he had never learned algebra.[...]


YAFFED is an advocacy group committed to improving educational curricula within ultra-Orthodox schools because we fervently believe that every child is entitled to a fair and equitable education. Our work involves raising awareness about the importance of general studies education, and encouraging the leadership of the ultra-Orthodox world to act responsibly in preparing their youth for economic sufficiency and for broad access to the resources of the modern world.

We encourage compliance with relevant state guidelines for education while maintaining respect for the primacy of Judaic studies and the unique cultural and religious values of the ultra-Orthodox community. Our mission is to ensure that all students receive the critical tools and skillsets needed for long-term personal growth and self-sufficient futures.

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