Orthodox Union: Mayor De Blasio’s Changes to UPK Program are Inadequate

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oulToday, the Orthodox Union released the following statement responding to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempt to respond to shortcomings in his signature UPK program:

For more than a year, the Orthodox Union has made the case to City Hall that New York’s Yeshivas and Jewish day schools are—by virtue of unwarranted and arbitrary rules invented by Mayor de Blasio—unable to participate in the Mayor’s signature Universal Pre-K program.

“When we heard Mayor de Blasio would, this week, modify his rules and accommodate New York’s Jewish day school students, we were optimistic. Unfortunately, the information released by City Hall today contains only cosmetic changes to the rules and New York’s Jewish day school parents still cannot expect to enroll their children in a City-funded UPK program next September,” said Maury Litwack, OU Advocacy’s Director of State Political Affairs.

The Mayor’s insistence upon an uninterrupted 6-hour and 20-minute secular instruction day—an hour and twenty minutes longer than that required by New York State—has made it impossible for more than 11 percent of New York’s Jewish day school children to participate in the UPK program.

According to information released today by City Hall, the Mayor is altering the rules of the program. Jewish day schools and yeshivas will be permitted to count instruction on Sundays and Federal holidays toward the secular instruction hours required by the City, which will now be counted by week instead of per day.

“We are disappointed that the Mayor has responded to our advocacy with cosmetic changes that will not increase Yeshiva and Jewish day school participation in the program,” said Litwack. “The changes released today will not solve the problem of leaving Jewish day school students out of this program.”

“The utilization of Sundays is not new policy; it existed last year and failed to increase enrollment above 11 percent. The use of Federal holidays is equally unlikely to increase enrollment. Making simple changes to allow our schools to utilize the state-mandated 5-hour day and to dramatically expand the half-day slots would have been new policy that would have increased enrollment significantly. Instead, practically, these changes would force four-year-olds into an almost unending school attendance that would include Sundays and Federal holidays.”

For now, if parents in our community ask whether they can expect to place their children in Universal Pre-K next September, the answer, based on City Hall’s message today, is ‘no.’

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

7 COMMENTS

  1. How would the OU’s plan work practically? If they want a half day of UPK, would the 3 hours take place in a yeshiva building or a separate location? If the same location, how would we ensure that no religious studies takes place during those hours? If holding half day UPK at another location how are the children supposed to get from one school to another?

    I think the OU coming out with the complaint makes them look bad because they have not laid out a solution to the problem they have. They sound like a bunch of crybabies that must have their way.

  2. TO goofus,
    You should not go on an online forum and troll about that which you clearly no very little about!
    The OU is absolutely correct in this. These changes mean nothing. As for your question, most of what happens in Pre-K (which the Yeshiva called Kindergarten due to our having a Pre1-A class year)is not Jewish per-se. They learn colors, spatial skills (using magnatiles, lego, etc) they learn seasons, they learn weather. Even if they were to learn the Hebrew words for these, its still not religious in nature, but a second language, no different then learning in Spanish or Latin. A half day allows for time for davening, washing, bentching, and some parsha. This is very doable, and we are not the only ones with this issue. Catholic schools are in the same boat. A half day would allow them to say the lords prayer, their homilies, learn about their holidays, etc.
    Simply put, this mayor is a Marxist, whose major religion is Big Government of Nanny State Solutions. His enemy is G-d fearing peoples. Like Obama, he is never seen going to church, because he is a Statist, like the Russians, Chinese, Koreans, Cubans, and his favorite, the Sandanistas!

  3. I’m waiting for an apology from all those brilliant frum people who were mechalel Shem shamayim and publicly supported this Marxist when he was running on the basis of him providingbfree peek.

  4. “I’m waiting for an apology from all those brilliant frum people who were mechalel Shem shamayim and publicly supported this Marxist”

    He isn’t a Marxist, just an ordinary machine politician Democrat. His political strategy was to buy the support of as many special interests as possible. And one that he bought was indeed the charedi community because he pledged to reverse Bloomberg’s position on MBP.