Deutsch Leads Support for Yeshiva Independence In New York City Council

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This week, thirty New York City Council members – a majority of the total 51 members – sent a letter in support of yeshivas and nonpublic schools to Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa and NYS Education Department Acting Commissioner Beth Berlin.

The letter states in part:

​“We continue to believe that it is integral that the State respects parents’ legal right to choose their children’s schools. New York City nonpublic schools have had immeasurable successes in educating their students and preparing them for life. Nonpublic school graduates have been accepted into and attended Ivy League schools for college and post-graduate educations, they’ve gone on to create multi-billion dollar businesses, and even hold high-profile elected and appointed positions in local and United States governmental bodies. These accomplishments speak volumes about the educational standard in nonpublic schools here in New York City.”

Spearheaded by Councilman Chaim Deutsch, Chairman of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus, along with Councilman Kalman Yeger, who represents the largest concentration of nonpublic schools in New York City, this letter sends a strong message to the State. In December, a group of 28 Councilmembers sent a similar letter of support for yeshivas to then-Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who, in response, dropped her proposal of updated substantial equivalency requirements.

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The increase in signers on this week’s letter demonstrates the City Council’s growing support for nonpublic schools, and is a clear and robust rebuke of the State’s attempt to encroach upon yeshivas independence.

Deutsch said, “This letter sends a powerful message that the City Council will not sit idly and allow the State to overturn the substantial equivalency guidelines that have existed for over 100 years. Numbers don’t lie, and the numbers show that yeshivas and nonpublic schools have test scores and graduation rates that rival some of the highest performing public schools in New York City. I am grateful to my colleagues for signing onto this letter, including members of the City Council’s Education Committee; the entire Republican Caucus; the Chairs and some members of the Progressive Caucus; members of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus; and the majority of the Jewish Caucus.

In addition to the City Council’s letter, a public comment period that ended in early September drew over 140,000 objections from students, teachers, alumni, and supporters of nonpublic schools. Objectors included the Commissioner’s Advisory Council for Religious and Independent Schools, the Council for American Private Education, the New York State School Boards Association, the New York State Association of Independent Schools, and representatives of the Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, and independent school community.

The full letter reads:

Dear Chancellor Rosa and Commissioner Berlin,

As New York City Councilmembers representing hundreds of thousands of nonpublic school students, we have observed recent discussions about proposed substantial equivalency regulations with great interest. These suggested regulations include mandating a dozen courses to be taught in all private elementary schools, the length of time they must be taught in several grades, and requiring local school districts to evaluate all private school faculty.

On December 17, 2018, we sent a letter to then-Commissioner Elia noting our concerns with the guidelines released then. We write now to reiterate our displeasure with the State Education Department’s continued desire to upend the relationship between the State and nonpublic schools that has existed since 1894.

We continue to believe that it is integral that the State respects parents’ legal right to choose their children’s schools. New York City nonpublic schools have had immeasurable successes in educating their students and preparing them for life. Nonpublic school graduates have been accepted into and attended Ivy League schools for college and post-graduate educations, they’ve gone on to create multi-billion dollar businesses, and even hold high-profile elected and appointed positions in local and United States governmental bodies. These accomplishments speak volumes about the educational standard in nonpublic schools here in New York City.

It is our understanding that more than 140,000 parents, alumni, educators and supporters of nonpublic schools submitted letters to the NYS Department of Education to protest this proposal. These responses included statements of opposition from the New York State School Boards Association, the Council for American Private Education, the Commissioner’s Advisory Council for Religious and Independent Schools, and representatives of Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, and Independent schools.

The New York State School Boards Association, which speaks on behalf of more than 700 school districts statewide, stated in part, “We cannot support the proposed regulations in their current form…The specifics of the proposed regulatory provisions go beyond what has been historically recommended under the Department’s existing guidelines regarding substantial equivalency reviews. That concern is heightened by the embedded threat contained within the proposed regulations’ reference to the enforcement mechanism of Education Law §3234, which authorizes the commissioner to withhold state aid from districts that are found to be noncompliant with regulatory requirements.”

We urge you to reconsider these proposed guidelines, and additionally ask that you review the points made in the attached letter dated December 17, 2018, which still ring true under today’s circumstances. We look forward to your expeditious response to these concerns.

Sincerely,

Chaim Deutsch
Kalman Yeger
Mark Levine
Laurie Cumbo (Council Majority Leader)
Steven Matteo (Council Minority Leader)
Joseph Borelli
Rafael Espinal
Ydanis Rodriguez
Ben Kallos
Robert Holden
Eric Ulrich
Fernando Cabrera
Ruben Diaz, Sr.
Alan Maisel
Rory Lancman
Andy King
Alicka Ampry-Samuel
Mark Gjonaj
Paul Vallone
Karen Koslowitz
Justin Brannan
Farah Louis
Mathieu Eugene
Peter Koo
Stephen Levin
Donovan Richards
Robert Cornegy
Adrienne Adams
Diana Ayala
Francisco Moya

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)




1 COMMENT

  1. Chaim Deutsch and his chair clowns are a bunch of liars, crooks, sellouts, these are not real democrats and these manipulators and leeches take key powers to justify their criminal stance…

    If you look closely at private schools, things are not as they seem!.

    The so-called elite may seem good outside but inside, they are liars, work only for their own interests, except and keep students that only make them look good, some schools are run horribly, no diversity, no solutions, other modern schools are run by crooks and bigots, liars, students can be cruel predators, many hasidic schools barely teach and me has seen many come out uneducated, unprepared, not knowing what to do, the hasidic communities set everything up and manipulate the people into their control and those who leave, it is harder for them because they are unprepared and are not given the necessary tools to make it out there and in the community, people are not allowed to go to college or own anymore than illegitimate high school diploma, many depend on the safety net, women are cattle meaning they work part time job and are only thought to be housewives, get married very young and birth as many babies as possible with no independence, no opportunities, no choices, many are stressed and miserable and the next generations continue the same exact way with more poverty, more problems, more tax money to support this, real estate is eating away, segregation and insularity is the only thing that exists in NYC and on,
    Some people get lucky, open stores, businesses, companies, etc…
    But the number of successes are extremely small and you have to get lucky!

    Is this who people listen to? Liars and con artists?

    If the mayor is smart, the new York stare department of education, our leaders and representatives, they will press these new regulations, enforce, and continue to improve the private school systems with the best learning, sports like football, basketball, swimming, workshops, clubs, school clashes with people of culture and colors, competitions, college opportunities, get people out of welfare and end it for huge impoverished families, teach people to be independent and have normal birth rates, new culture and diversity, this is normal