SHOCK: New NYS Guidelines Require Yeshiva Elementary Schools to Teach AT LEAST 6 HOURS A DAY of Secular Studies

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Albany – Today, the NYS Education Department released guidelines about the substantial equivalency of instructions that nonpublic schools are required to provide.

The guidelines acknowledge that religious schools are different than public schools, but require all religious schools to teach the same courses as the local public schools, and do devote the same amount of time to those subjects.

The new instructions, accompanied by tool kits and checklists, leaves very little flexibility for what yeshiva elementary schools can teach. For grades 1-4, it mandates instructions in 7 subjects at an attainment level similar to state standards for public schools. For grades 5-8, it requires 11 subjects, with strict time requirements for most of these subjects. Adding up all of the subjects and time requirements, a yeshiva will have to devote more than six hours every day, five days a week to secular studies.

It further requires school districts to review all religious schools over the next two and a half years, and then to reinspect all of the schools over the subsequent five years.

The new guidelines state that if a school is found to be non-equivalent, parents will be given 30-45 days to transfer their children to a different school. After 30-45 days, the school will be defunded and the parents will be in violation of the truancy laws.

The State Education Department seems to have realized that it makes no sense to require Yeshivas to devote so many hours to secular studies, and so it included a footnote that says that for religious schools, some of their requirements “may be met by the incorporation of the State learning standards of such subjects into the syllabi for other courses. Such integration must be documented in writing and kept on file at the school.”

Does that mean that yeshivas will now depend on the whims of bureaucrats in school districts all across New York State to understand the benefits and skills derived from limudei kodesh?

A few years ago, a different New York City leader attempted to force us to tamper with our mesorah by attempting to regulate bris milah. The frum community got together, and the Agudah, Satmar, Chabad and numerous mohelim sued to block the government intrusion into our core religious practices. In its decision in favor of the lawsuit, the court observed that the City appeared to be biased against religious practice, because it regulated bris milah but ignored other instances where there were supposedly public health concerns. That lead the court to conclude that what bothered the City was frum practice, not public health.

With the City and State attempting to intrude on our yeshiva system, perhaps it is time to point out that the educational system we are supposed to be substantially equivalent to – the public school system – is a failure and has been a failure for decades.

That raises the same question the court asked the City about bris milah – are you really concerned about education, or are you just bothered by religious education.

All those who care about our yeshivas should demand an answer to that question.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)




74 COMMENTS

  1. You get the government you deserve. The askonim ran around telling us to vote Dem. This is a consequence. You can say Tehillim, but this might be their punishment.

  2. I’m not sure I follow. Is the point that 6 hours is extravagant, or that states shouldn’t regulate educational requirements at all? Kids are legally required to be in school at those ages; doesn’t it make sense to legally define what school is?

  3. ********NEWSFLASH*******

    TWO PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS:

    #1- SIMCHA FELDER

    #2- THE HOLY SATMAR REBBE OF KIRYAS JOEL

    ANYONE WHO DISAGREES, DOES NOT HAVE THE HARD COLD FACTS. THEY PUSHED THE STATE TO TAKE OVER CONTROL OF YESHIVAS INSTEAD OF LEAVING IN IN LOCAL JURISDICTION. NOW WE ARE EATING THE FRUITS THEY SOWED.

    AS LONG AS THE SATMAR REBBE WAS ABLE TO BRAG TO ALL HIS CHASSIDIM THAT HE GOT A PHONE CALL FROM CUOMO ASSURING HIM ALL WAS GOOD OR SOME NONSENSE.

    WHAT A CHURBAN

    JUST WAIT UNTIL THE INSPECTORS SHOW UP IN SATMAR YESHIVAS DEMANDING EQUAL AMOUNT OF HOURS FOR SECULAR STUDIES EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK INCLUDING FRIDAY’S WHEN OUR CHILDREN GET DISMISSED AT 12:00.

  4. Very simple way to fight this intrusion, we will however need some major kol koreh’s that will bring everyone together.
    We need to (legitimately) all at once apply to public schools.
    When the politicians come crying, we should not back down until;
    A) The law is changed that the State will never intrude again into religious curriculum
    B) We receive tax breaks – dollar for dollar of tuition money paid.

  5. Don’t you see the correlation between the schools that are intruding on our religious beliefs because we don’t want to vaccinate and now the govt is intruding on our religious beliefs?? You are doing it to yourself!!
    This is the consenquence for siding with the government !! Good luck!!

  6. There have to be some minimum standards but these rules appear to rigid and require excessive hours for seculr studies leaving insufficient time for limudei kodesh, especially at th younger grades. I very much doubt the Satmar Rebbe had a clue as to how there rules would be implemented since their solution will be to keep the kis in school until later at night to assue thy ar meeting the standards. Satmar are the great believers in “dina d’malchusah” and will be certain to comply.

  7. What about the qualifications for teaching secular studies? Is that also being changed in the new regulations? That is also a big problem for the yeshivos….Hopefully , they will be satisfied as long as the “required” subject matter is covered…..

  8. Mr Bull,
    I do have the facts and I disagree with you, uppercase letters notwithstanding.
    The “Felder amendment” forced the State to include yeshiva education – Jewish curriculum – when defining the equivalency standard.
    The law always required that the yeshiva education to equivalent to PS Education.

  9. To BULLDOZER There is no need to CAPITALIZE your words as if the world is coming to an end. With a little imagination, many of these “subjects” can be taught by the rebbi. As a matter of fact, they are already being taught by the rebbi. My brother is a first-grade rebbi Every day he does math in his class. He begins the day by writing the day of the week and the date of the month. You need to teach numbers for this. In Chumash Berashis there are many numbers. These have numbers which need to be added. Science, Walk into my brother’s class as he teaches Masei Berashis the mabul or even hilchos Shabbos and you will see a science lesson that puts any English dept. to shame. The same thing with health, physical education, and the arts. Which rebbi doesn’t dance with his class sometime during the year? These subjects can be done and are already done by many rebbeim. I once went to observe Rabbi Yitzy Erps, Every day after recess he had a bonafide physical education class.

  10. I see nothing wrong with these guidelines except perhaps the Visual Arts part. Of course, if the object is to prepare students for careers in shnorring …

  11. A few years ago, a different New York City leader attempted to force us to tamper with our mesorah by attempting to regulate bris milah.
    ——————————-
    This is incorrect. Bris mila was never in danger.

  12. Is it time to make Alya yet and fulfill the destiny of a Jew to live in Eretz ha Kodesh or will the Jews of America continue to tread water ??

  13. Here is an interesting statistic based on the Brooklyn Population. More than 60% of those households were the head of household is making a living, the head of household has at least a high school diploma.

  14. 8 nycrr 100 is the regulation that contains the subject and time requirements and has been around for decades. It requires 180 minutes per subject per week or it’s equivalent. The Yeshiva’s have complied with this rule by using “its equivalent.” They should be able to continue to do so.

  15. It’s nothing new; the Yevoninm, Romans and Communists already tried to interfere with our chinuch and torah study.
    We must remember we are still in Golus even in America.
    May Hashem send a speedy Geuloh and a Yeshuah to the international chinuch crisis.

  16. Bulldozer, no need to write all in caps.
    Personally I have no idea what you are talking about, I doubt you do either.
    The person on whom blame can be placed is naftali moser.
    But all that aside, you raise a good point.
    How can the city mandate six hours a day when shabbos comes in at 415?
    Isn’t that infringing on freedom of religion?

    This puts us back where we should have gone years ago.
    Tell the city
    You win.
    Complete surrender.
    Every single yeshiva and bais Yaakov child should register for admission to public school.
    Another article here on yeshiva world states that today there are in the neighborhood of 165,000 children in NYC yeshivas
    Politico states
    New York City to spend an average of $17.5K per student this school year. The city is planning to spend an average of $17,500 per student in the coming school year, according to funding data released Friday.Aug 31, 2018
    So do the math that’s about an additional three billion dollars a year for the city budget.

    Then the kids don’t show up and let them come after every parent,
    We need achdus.
    If we all do this together we can win.
    And next time vote republican

  17. Chanukah 5779. Less torah more secular studies. I say let them drop dead, they are the present day greeks. We didnt give in then and we wont give in now.

    Are you kidding me? Nobody has seen the connection?

  18. Instead of discussing politics or blaming the supposedly “responsible” parties, can this be seen from a point of view… ehem.. of a frum yid.. sorry to bring up such old fashioned nonsense.. but there is Hshem in the world last I checked… so maybe it is time for some introspection as to why this is happening in NY ir hakodesh…? Maybe time to wake up and look around.. just suggesting a different strategy when analyzing current events….

  19. I notice the language in the scanned sheet looks purposely generic, in that it doesn’t state what classifies as social studies for example.
    So, let me say as a matriculated student from a bordering state who went to public school, that the year long class on Black History (yes, there are required classes), and the book reports I’ve written from K-12, while ignoring all of WWII and the Holocaust has really gotten me far in life. If it weren’t for that, I’d never understand CNN and MSNBC.

    I do see an interesting comment before mine though. Some states have a thing called “home rule”, meaning the counties have a say and not the state so much…

  20. One problem with leadership in our community is the perception is they never think long term. This whole episode could have been dealt with internally.

    They refused to listen to someone who left the community (and yes as hard as it is to say it) is correct that more secular studies needs to be taught in the Chassidshe Yeshivas. I guess they did not listen since he was not part of the community anymore.

    Do you remember the time when the blogs were the only ones who reported about abuse in our communities and how Agudah swept in under the carpet? They refused to acknowledge the problem existed and hoped the problem would just go away. How did that work out?

    Now here with the schools. Now truth is the Agudah non chassidic Yeshivas are somewhat OK with secular studies. My problem is Agudah took on Satmars and company cause.

    Then they really put a bulls eye on themselves when Simcha Felder did his thing Erev Presach. They put a VERY bright light on the situation and people have not forgotten.

    Why does it seem that Agudah everytime takes the WRONG position on EVERYTHING?? Now to answer my own question I get it that they fight so government does not mix in with religion. However then we need to monitor ourselves and make sure everyone gets a normal education. This they know and have simply refused to acknowledge, It’s funny to me how many at the Agudah is VERY well educated, but for some reason (Rabbincal pressure to control the flock??) they are not pushing educational standards in the schools (again perception. maybe they ARE and the public does not know)

    If Agudah is pushing for more education in the Yeshivas they need to be more open about it in the public sphere.

    Last thing my guess is this document is starting point for negotiations between the schools and the state. They will then come up with a compromise. Maybe 3-4 hours a day etc…

  21. What is in the short term and long term best interest for our children? The current system, a modification of the current system or the DOE guidelines?

  22. I speak from experience here in Canada. From grades 1 to 13 (at the time, which was first year university in the U.S.) we learned the entire “secular studies” curriculum in a few afternoon hours a week. And we got top marks in government administered tests (and qualified easily for top universities). The number of hours is not what determined the progress and facility in the secular studies. The quality of teachers and the seriousness of the students is what did it. I suspect that the public schools had so much time to waste that the student learned much more about wasting time than about being serious, making the extra hours actually counter-productive.

  23. 1. If public schools do not spend six hours per day on academics, it would raise equal protection issues. A typical public school does not do six hours on academic instruction (they might have six hours of being in school, but that includes recess, physical education, administrative matters, time spent in hallways changing classes, snacks, going to the bathroom, etc.).

    2. If they don’t consider learning Hebrew (and Yiddish) to be academics, it also raises a discrimination issue.

    3. It appears the “gym” counts as a subject.

    4. If they make the requirement a condition for meeting compulsory education (i.e. they take your child away for non-compliance) it raises different issues than if the standards are used for funding (since one does not have a right to discretionary government spending). Schools that don’t want government money have an obvious advantage.

  24. Jeff Stuart,
    It most definitely was! Remember Chazal teach us that a chacham, wise man, is one who is roeh es ha’nolad, – see what the consequences of his actions.” A fool, on the other hand, acts without thinking.

    In the case of bris mila, not allowing klal Yisroel to practice Torah u’Mitzvos like WE want and like OUR mesorah has been for thousands of years, is tantamount to stopping milah or anything else altogether. You think Bloomingidiotberg and his gang of rshoyim really really really deep down didjyy want to abolish milah for babies? just hear the libs go crazy now, they’re only eight days old, what do they know, Baby Choice as if they care about babies till now etc.

  25. “Besalel” is correct, and it seems all-y’all are panicking over nothing. Reading “appendix A” (from the image in the article):

    “A unit of study means at least 180 minutes of instruction per week throughout the school year, or the equivalent. … In Nonpublic schools, the unit of study requirements may be met, or their equivalants may be met, by the incorporation of the State learning standard of such subjects into the syllabi for other courses.”

    Seems that if you cover the syllabus, the actual time it takes to do so doesn’t matter.

    And comparing the desire for everyone to know secular subjects to presecusion by the Hellenists, Romans and Communists is more than a little over the top. They aren’t doing this in order to get rid of us, but because by their standards a firm secular education is what is best for our kids.

    As for early Friday… The yeshiva I went to for Jr High was in Queens, so had it survived, it would have been subject to those laws. Sunday was a full day, same schedule as Monday through Wednesday and Thursday up to mishmar. Friday was the day of limudei qodesh only, not Sunday. Admittedly we only had 2 hours of secular studies a day. But since our teachers were by-and-large doing a second job while teaching at Bronx Sci and using the same curriculum for both schools, we certainly had “or the equivalent”.

  26. Chance: not vaccinating is not a religious right. At least not in my religion, which mandates that we guard our health. So don’t compare apples to elephants.

    We definitely have a big problem on our hands. It would have been funny if the joke weren’t on us, how the city can force us to teach music for example, while giving us Bubkes in aid.

    So we will work on a compromise somehow, and maybe some parents will opt to home-school/tutor. The city can go after schools to a certain degree, but won’t be able to properly check up on close to 200,000 kids in their homes. With Hashem’s help, we will prevail!

    I hope this won’t acclerate the march away from Brooklyn by young Frum families due to the very high housing costs, because these education issues will likely follow us elsewhere. So we have to hang in for the fight.

  27. Does that mean the government is now willing to subsidize the secular education at yeshivot if these conditions are met?

    If so this could be great as tuition prices will fall for anyone who attends a school that has secular education.

  28. 1.,
    That’s a bit simplistic. There is zero chance of our votes flipping any part of New York State Republican.
    What we can do is try to figure out which of our politicians best represent our values, knowing full well that none of them represent our values completely. If we constantly vote against our politicians without a chance of winning, we lose our political clout.

  29. Avi K,
    Great point because the vast majority of the tens of thousands of chasidic men in this country are beggars. That’s the goal of their education.

  30. So now Yidden want their kids to be on par Educationally with POOR MINORITIES Blacks and Hispanics in the hood: To Graduate With 6th Grade Reading And Math skills.

  31. So that’s Why when you now look for a SHIDDUCH for YOUR DAUGHTER, You Can’t Find Any Boys who can make a Living! Who can only Guarantee Life of Poverty, and ONLY THE RICH GIRLS can get a RICH GUY, and all other Girls are Stuck! That’s what’s happened to Frum world now!

  32. I am very gently going to suggest that everyone take a deep calming breath, step back and just breathe for a few moments..

    With these new state directives in hand, now is the time for your religious leaders, yeshiva educators and a knowledgeable state representative to sit down and map out in practical terms how these directives be implemented into classrooms so that the state is satisfied with regard to secular education and parents are satisfied that their children are receiving the faith based religious education they envision and desire.

    Ah yid is correct. Secular requirements can be woven seamlessly into a living, breathing religious education i.e. our bodies are a gift to us from Hashem and here is how He expects us to take care of this this most wonderful gift… and why is this such a wonderful gift? Because in His infinite love for us Hashem created us in His own holy image and when we hurt our bodies by not taking care of them we also hurt Hashem. You then get into cause and effect of eating right and getting physical exercise and before you know it you have covered a plethora of secular education requirements.

    Once fear and rumor have been separated from reality and there is a realistic implementation plan in place, hold meetings for the parents on how these new directives are realistically going to impact their child’s education. Hashem’s got this, He is in control, all is well and everything is going to be alright. Just have faith.

  33. Only 74% of public school students in Brooklyn graduate high school. Why do they want us to provide a comparable education?

    Hopefully Agudah is involved and is figuring out the best way to protect our religious freedom while also requiring a basic math/science/language education.

    Worse comes to worse, Brooklyn’s housing crisis will be solved when there will be a mass exodus of non-compliant communities.

  34. Perhaps there is an underlying message over here………
    Chazal tell us- “Hevay zahir birashus” The government is not here for our best interest in any area……
    We are in Galus and just have to continue remembering that Hashem is running the world. We are trying to be more machmir than the secular government (with regard to the religious exemptions) and now they are coming out at us to say go do even more for us make sure to have 6 hours of secular studies….
    Just a thought….

  35. “a yeshiva will have to devote more than six hours every day, five days a week to secular studies.”

    Well, please pray tell which PS abides to that rule.. Unless “secular” includes anything NOT religious, including all non-sense.

  36. The funny thing is, on election day a couple of weeks ago, outside every polling place there were bochurim handing out flyers telling the uneducated stooges to vote for the democrats that make these government overreaching laws. And of course since the jews have a bloc vote that’s what happens. So why are they all complaining now?

  37. 1 hour- physical Ed – playing sports (marked on class attendance, not participation…as is many public schools)

    1 hour- language course in Yiddish, Loshen Hakodesh/Hebrew and/or Ivrit

    1 hour- English launguage skills- reading, writing, vocabulary, grammar

    1 hour – Jewish studies, Bible (Chumash) or Talmud

    1 hour -Jewish history- Nach or Historia

    1 hour – math

    1 hour – music- violin, keyboard, flute, etc.

    That’s 7 hours total

    After our schools conform to the 6 hour secular education requirement, the government must then provide the same of funding for private school students as for public school students.

    I understand people don’t want the government to mix in at all…well then schools can’t ask for all these state and Federal programs either…

  38. @GAON

    I teach 2’nd Grade in a parochial school. It’s not a Yeshiva but it’s not a public school either. We begin at 8:30 a.m. and dismiss at 3:00 p.m. with an hour for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in addition there is a morning recess and an afternoon recess each with the duration of 15 minutes. You also have to factor in the logistics of getting 20 small persons in and out of the building properly dressed to either play outdoors or settle down and learn. Myself, I never take away any recess time. Ever. They are children, they need to run and play, they need to be given the opportunity to use their “outdoor voices”. I try to co-ordinate washroom time to coming in and out of the building time and encourage the children to bring with them a clearly labeled reusable water bottle that they can keep with them at their desks so that we aren’t losing an inordinate amount of instruction time.

    I believe my school is the norm rather than the exception. Clearly there aren’t six hours of instruction time, secular or otherwise built into the daily schedule. However. Common practice is to bundle different subject disciplines. For example.. I had the children build birdhouses to give their mothers as a Mother’s Day gift. It was a huge project but the children had to use a lot of different subject disciplines including language, math, science and art.

    I urge you in the strongest possible way is to grab a hold of the brilliant minds that authored this six hour directive and not to let them off the hook until you have clarity and a clear expectation of what will be required to remain in compliance with the law. How is it realistically to be accomplished? And at what expense? Because if this is just an underhanded ploy to put the Yeshiva education parents desire for their children out of business by penning the children up in a classroom until their spirits are broken then you have constitutional and human rights issues..

  39. 1) Just take a look across the pond. These regulations are probably based on Anglo Saxon jurisprudence from the UK.
    2) I am smart enough to make my own decisions, and always vote Republicans.
    3) I am not pushed around by rabid anti-Zionists.

  40. Amil: assuming the schools (and by extension the parents) can afford to, the parents can be charged with truancy if their children attend non-accredited schools.
    That’s the catch 22 some people fail to recognize – in NY the government can control the curriculum, but they don’t exactly want to pay for it, despite collecting our tax dollars.

  41. Yeshiva 6 hour curriculum:

    1 hour physical Ed ( marked for attendance but not participation as many public schools do. This can be part of recess)

    3 hours Jewish studies – Talmud

    1 hour of English language studies. ( It is of utmost importance that every frum male should know the BASICS of how to communicate in English. Its not Chassidus not to have a BASIC education.)

    1 hour Jewish philosophy studies- Chassidish seforim, mussar, etc.

    This equals 6 hours of secular education.

    This is not a joke- if you see the classes they have in public school and college that count as “secular education”, Jewish studies cannot be exclusively singled out and discriminated against and must also be considered “secular education” ( indeed as learning Talmud is considered education by the government).

    Due to the goverment’s intrusion on Jewish education, they must fund education for private school students with the exact same amount per student as they do for public school students.

  42. if schooling is required by law it makes sense that laws have to dictate what is school is. I don’t see how visual arts is more valuable than Jewish learning ( even though we probably have much more visual arts because of all the parasah projects ) .
    I see some chasidim who don’t want to live that life as adults suffer their lack of education so there is a point in the state getting involved but hours shouldn’t make a difference so long as the results in tests are similar to those in other schools ..

  43. The assertion by some that this is a punishment because Jewish schools have opposed the anti-vaxxers
    is amusing (unless there are people who’d take it seriously, but I hope there aren’t).

  44. Mammele, It’s time for people to wake up and stop persecuting your own people. You are begging for the govt to come in and help control the situation let this be the consenquence. But people never learn from past mistakes

  45. Those advocating against trust in important organizations that try their very best to help our people and institutions, under the guidance of our biggest Rabbonim, are making a very serious mistake. Look at our history and similar groups during the churban etc. Please stop the hate. We will have to be unified under a common umbrella if in fact this is a new gezeira on klal Yisroel. We have to trust leadership and join ranks. Achdus is what is needed, not individual opinions. Let’s be very careful with things that are at this level of importance. Forget your biasis because as you very well know, they may be wrong. Let’s beat this together.

  46. Mammele, several posters have mentioned integrated studies (not by that term), it’s the obvious solution. Why is that so difficult? Perhaps it will take some teacher training, but how difficult is that? There are enormous resources online some even provide lesson plans. Why reinvent the wheel when other nonJewish parochial schools are using interdisciplinary instruction as a vehicle for complying with NY law and not sacrificing religious studies?

  47. If a Yeshiva wants federal, state or city funding, it should have at least minimal requirements. But not those listed. Are our kids, especially by the time they reach middle school, supposed to sleep in school to be able to fulfill two curriculums. Again, another reason why I’m AWOB. Meaning, government stay away from our already accredited schools where the kids take all the necessary state and federal exams and generally do better then the public schools. Planning on contacting my state assemblyman and senator to see how they plan to stand up to this.

  48. I have no comment regarding the Education System in the USA, however this constant bickering between the Satmar Rebbi and the IDF recruitment policy is “nished gutt”. If my son is putting his life to protect Israeli citizens then why shouldl Satmar get a pass.?

  49. Don’t panic just yet.
    The solution to this problem is alluded to by several commentators in these replies.
    Keep in mind that many Torah institutions in other States (in the USA) have similar guidlines for grades 1 to 12. They’re managing nicely. The word “equivalent” in the NY State guidelines, can refer to some Limudei Kodesh courses that could/would meet an equivalence. Best to contact some other Yeshivas (out of NY State) and discuss. This גזירה may not be resolved if a Yeshiva has a 100% limudei kodesh curriculum.