“I believe our issue is, or should be, the most nonpartisan issue out there.” Young Advocates for Fair Education Comments on Held Up Budget Agreement, NY Times Reports

Posted on April 4, 2018

The Curious Case of the Yeshiva Carve-Out

Originally Published in the New York Times on April 3, 2018
Written by Vivian Wang and Jesse McKinley

(Photo: Nathaniel Brooks)

Top lawmakers accused one senator, Simcha Felder, of Brooklyn, of essentially holding the $168 billion budget hostage until the state agreed not to interfere with the curriculum at the private Jewish schools known as yeshivas. Some critics have accused the schools, which focus on the study of traditional Jewish texts, of leaving students without a basic command of English, math, history or science.

The lack of attention is one of Mr. Moster’s biggest complaints. In 2015, under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Department of Education agreed to investigate the quality of schooling at yeshivas, at the request of Mr. Moster’s group, Young Advocates for Fair Education. Mr. Moster said that when he graduated from a yeshiva, he had never heard of basic scientific concepts, including the word “molecule.”

I could never have imagined so much attention,” Naftuli Moster, a yeshiva graduate who now leads a group advocating for their reform, said. “We have groups that have never been interested in looking into an issue mostly relevant to nonpublic schools.

“Suddenly, when this holds up a $168 billion budget, they’re taking a closer look,” he said.

“I believe our issue is, or should be, the most nonpartisan issue out there,” Mr. Moster said. “Kids getting a basic education.”

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