Voting to make education in private and religious schools more secular in terms of the syllabus, the New York State on Tuesday took its long-awaited decision against the interests of New York’s yeshivas, and the consequences will not be favorable.
The new set of regulations will govern secular education in New York’s massive array of ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools, or yeshivas, which have fiercely resisted interference in their curriculum as they hold Torah learning sacred.
The rules will require instruction in four core areas like mathematics, science, English language arts, and social studies. Schools will have multiple pathways to prove compliance, including by passing a review from local education officials. To pass a review, the instructors would need to be “competent,” lessons would need to be in English, and students with limited English would need to be provided instruction to gain proficiency in the language.
To prove compliance with the new rules, non-public schools will need to begin the process by December 1, 2023. Reviews would need to be completed by the end of the 2024-2025 school year, although schools would be able to request additional time. If a school is deemed non-compliant, it will essentially be discredited as a school and lose its funding. Parents who continue sending their children to such a school could be subject to penalties for violating compulsory education laws.
Non-public schools will also need to teach lessons required by state law at all schools, including on the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence, New York State history and civics, health education including lessons on substance abuse, roadway safety, fire safety and CPR training.