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Agudah’s Statement on New York City’s Substantial Equivalency Determinations

By 07/03/2023 5:37 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff


On Friday afternoon, the New York City Department of Education released long-awaited substantial equivalency determinations regarding eleven Orthodox Jewish schools, known as yeshivas.

Before commenting on this development, some context:

These reports were instigated by a complaint brought by anti-yeshiva activists years ago. These activists sought to find the 39 weakest performing schools, from a secular perspective, within New York’s flourishing body of 554 independent yeshivas.

Of these 39 yeshivas, the complaint regarding some dozen schools were deemed by the city to be invalid and outside the scope of inquiry. Two other yeshivas were deemed equivalent.

Of the eleven newly released determinations on Friday, seven schools were found to be providing a fully equivalent education.

No determination was made and no reports were released regarding an additional 14 schools, but there was a recommendation to find them non-equivalent, for reasons the city has not disclosed.

In considering the impact of these determinations and recommendations, it is important to remember that the New York State Supreme Court recently held, in a case brought by Agudath Israel and others, that government bureaucrats have no authority to penalize nonpublic schools for not conducting their classrooms in a manner that is substantially equivalent to public schools, as the state imposes.

Moreover, these New York City reports have been compiled while the state’s long-awaited guidance instructing schools how to comply with substantial equivalency regulations, and detailing how the city should review nonpublic schools, still has not been produced. In other words, government is moving forward condemning schools before giving these schools the rulebook by which they will be judged.

Parents sacrifice deeply and spend heavily to educate their children in yeshivas. They do so because they recognize the enormous benefits of yeshiva education. Yeshiva graduates are steeped in moral values. Their minds have been trained to think critically and creatively. They are literate in multiple languages and scholars of the great texts that define Judaism. Their love for learning lasts a lifetime. Their charitable giving and deeds know no peer. While these items may not appear on any government checklist, they are critically important educational qualities, at least to the parents who send their children there.

Agudath Israel is proud of the yeshivas in New York, and their longstanding track record of producing successful graduates and peaceful citizens.

In Mayor Adams’ own words, “Rather than asking what are you doing in your schools, we need to ask what are we doing wrong in our schools and learn from what you are doing in the yeshivas.”

We couldn’t agree more.


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bobby bracros

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