Thanks to the more than 140,000 letters sent to New York State Education Department expressing opposition to the “Yeshiva reform” regulations, the state has placed the proposed new rules on hold.
New York State Education Department officials explained that the staggering number of public comments submitted over last summer convinced her of the need to hit the pause button.
At yesterday’s meeting of the Board of Regents, nterim Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe said that “This is one of the most difficult conversations and hardest things this Board will have to take on. We are balancing a person’s right to religious education, and the right to choose where their child goes, with a right to ensure that their child will receive the education to which they are entitled under the law … We only think it’s prudent at this point (given the number of comments) to go back out to the field for additional feedback.”
A spokesman for PEARLS lauded the state’s move. “We are pleased that the Board of Regents heard the 140,000 voices that expressed concern about the proposed regulations,” said Sam Goldstein, a spokesman for Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools, a coalition that formed in opposition to the proposed reforms. “It is particularly gratifying that SED noted the many private school parents and alumni whose comments touched on how unnecessary these regulations are, and how they would infringe on fundamental parental and religious rights.”
The proposed regulations would have required all private schools to teach the same subjects and classes as the local public schools, and would have empowered local school districts to evaluate and approve private schools every few years.
An extraordinarily diverse coalition of schools and organizations opposed the proposed regulations, including the Catholic School Superintendents overseeing all 535 Catholic schools in New York, the New York State Association of Independent Schools, the umbrella group speaking for more than 200 Independent schools in New York, the Council for American Private Education and the New York State School Boards Association. The latter’s opposition was particularly significant, because the proposed regulations would require local school boards to implement and enforce them.
New York’s Jewish school community also vigorously opposed the regulations. Public comments in opposition to the regulations were submitted by Agudath Israel of America, the Orthodox Union, Torah Umesorah – the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, and the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, among others.
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