Bloomberg, Markowitz Pass Buck on Yeshivas’ Failure to Teach English, Math


Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Borough President Marty Markowitz waffled Wednesday over who has responsibility for overseeing the failure of some Brooklyn religious Jewish schools to teach their students basic English, math and science.

As New York has been reporting this week, many Orthodox Jewish schools in Brooklyn — attended by more than 80,000 kids — offer limited instruction in non-religious subjects, or don’t teach them at all, even though they’re required to by law.

Asked during an unrelated press conference whether his administration was aware of the issue and planned to do anything to address it, Bloomberg seemed unsure about the city’s oversight role.

“I don’t think our Department of Education has anything to do with it,” he said.

“My guess would be it would be up to the state Department of Education. But we’ll be happy to check and see if they’re the ones that have the standards and have to enforce the standards for all the schools.”

According to a state DOE spokeswoman, it’s up to the board of education in each of the state’s school districts to make sure children attending non-public schools and being home-schooled are “receiving instruction which is substantially equivalent to that provided in the public schools.”

The state requires all children to be instructed in English, math, science and physical education.


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  1. 1. It would be very easy for the state to amend its constitution and the government could provide teachers for secular subjects for religious schools. This is done in many countries, but is not done in the US, largely due to historic prejudice against minority religions.

    2. As long as the public school produce students who are both uneducated and lacking the skills gained from systematic disciplined education, yeshiva kids have no problem. They finish “high school” knowing four languages (Hebrew, Yiddish, Aramaic and English), used to academic study on level that in American universties is typical of graduatge school (study of ancient and medieval texts in original language), and can pick up what they need to know.

  2. #3 ur right but its a bizoyon if you cant multiply 8 X 12 in 2 sec and add 43 + 26 in 2 sec , or dont know if four and forty are both spelled corecctly .This shows your dumber than the akum

  3. LOL! I was expecting akuperman to say that if the US government wants to persecute the chareidim by forcing the yeshivas to teach basic courses, then the chareidim will just have to seek political asylum from yet another oppressive regime. Maybe they can run to “palestine” to seek refuge. LOL!

  4. It would be wonderful if Yeshivas have a mandatory English curriculum. A real serious one.

    And let them do it fast so my boys can still get a chance to be a part of it, instead of me teaching them English myself as a tutor.

  5. #3 apkuperma – Knowing Aramaic and Yiddish means diddly-squat. Aramaic is a dead language, and unfortunately, Yiddish will get them exactly nowhere in the outside world. Their Hebrew is suspect, as it’s biblical Hebrew, not modern spoken Hebrew. Their English is definitely suspect, as many of the kids can barely get by. Basically, it means they are proficient in Chumash, Rashi, and Gemora.

    That’s hardly a recipe for any kind of ability to eventually support a family.

  6. #8 -Learning any language helps to learn any other language. I regularly use about a dozen languages at work, and I only studied half of them in school. Especially for a kid who speaks Yiddish at home and in school, picks up English along the way, and studies Hebrew and Aramaic – he’ll have the skills to learn more languages if he wants to. With minimal effort he can pick up other languages closely related to the ones he knows such as Romance and Germanic languages, as well as other Semitic languagues – and he has a huge head start on any others. While he may not realize it, his yeshiva education has already taught him about syntax and grammar (e.g. you don’t have to go Subject-Verb-Object, languages can have genders, tenses aren’t absolute).

    #5- if the kid is going to be a schlepper, he really doesn’t need to know about the social structure in New York in the 18th century, or be able appreciate Macbeth or even be able to solve a quadratic equation. There is a separate issue involving all of American education including the frum community of providing training for kids who don’t have the brains or inclination for white collar jobs. IF the kid doesn’t want to be a schlepper, at some point he should hit the books, take the GED, and learn a profession or trade — and if he isn’t up to it, all the modern education won’t help him

  7. I read a biography of Rabbi Shach who passed away in
    about 1990 in Israel. One of his letters addressed the question of having secular subjects taught in Chedders (sp?)Talmudic academies etc. Rabbi Shach if my memory serves me correctly, emphasized the teaching of Torah, Talmud values over any secular studies.

    I read that in a national exam in Israel at the high school level, much to the disappointment of secular Jews observant Jews scored much higher on ALL subjects including science, math, etc which is obviously not stressed at observant schools of learning at all if at all.

    May I suggest as a goy that all Jews attend the religious schools for better overall academic performance–
    They might become more religious Jews !!!!

    Suggest All Jews do more Talmud Torah, more davvening, and more deeds of kindness–also be careful of all goy
    including me.

    A goy,
    Gerry Mullen,
    Riverside, NJ