On Friday afternoon, the New York Times reported on letters sent by the New York City Department of Education to 14 yeshivas. According to the Times, which cited City officials, the news was all bad. Those yeshivas were accused of not providing “substantially equivalent’ instruction, whatever that means.
The Times ignored the fact that 7 other yeshivas were deemed just fine by the City. And we presume that the letters were far more nuanced than the Times is letting on. The new state regulations demands instruction in New York State history and constitution, and a review of a school’s teacher recruitment and hiring policies.
It matters — a lot — if a yeshiva is deemed non-equivalent for failures in those areas or if it is lacking in core subjects such as English, Math and Social Studies. And so YWN set out to find out what the City’s 14 letters said about those subjects. But the City wont give us answers.
YWN formally requested the letters on Friday, after the Times reported on them. The City has not responded. It seems like there is one set of rules for the Times and a different one for the Orthodox community.
YWN publicly demands that the City release the letters. If they are all bad — as the Times suggests — release them. If they are more balanced — as YWN suspects — release them.
As things stand now, the yeshiva community is getting pilloried while ít cạn’t defend itself because the City has tied its hands by not releasing the letters.
Politics makes for strange bedfellows, and so we understand why many of our mosdos to not want to publicly criticize the City. So we will give the final word to PEARLS, which has courageously lead the battle to protect yeshiva education and was the only organization to issue a public statemnt on Friday.
“PEARLS rejects the attempt to measure the efficacy of yeshiva education by applying a skewed set of technical requirements.
“Utilizing a government checklist devised and enforced by lawyers may help explain the state of public education. It is designed to obscure rather than illuminate the beauty and success of yeshiva education.
“The outcomes of yeshiva education are on display every day across New York: in the successful business and professional careers of tens of hundreds of thousands yeshiva graduates and in the law abiding and loving families they are raising here.
“Parents choose yeshiva education for their children because of the religious, moral and educational philosophy and approach of those who lead yeshivas.
“They will continue to do so, regardless of how many government lawyers try to insist that yeshiva education is best measured by checklists they devise rather than the lives yeshiva graduates lead.”
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)