Young Advocates for Fair Education Wants City to Speed Up, Expand Yeshiva Review, Reported by Politico

Posted on November 28, 2018

With state guidelines, secular ed advocates want city to speed up, expand yeshiva review

Originally Published in Politico on November 27, 2018
Written by Madina Toure

A group pushing for secular education in yeshivas is urging the city to speed a review of dozens of Orthodox yeshivas and expand the investigation further after the state Education Department released updated “substantial equivalency” guidelines last week. “We call on the Department of Education Chancellor Carranza to prioritize the inspections and the reviews of the ultra-Orthodox yeshivas that have stonewalled the education officials so far and to allow its investigation to expand to other yeshivas based on new and ongoing complaints,” Naftuli Moster, executive director of Young Advocates for a Fair Education (Yaffed) said during a press conference.

The new guidelines represent a clear signal that the state intends to monitor curriculum at the schools, and they were something of a setback for pro-yeshiva advocates who say the state is not equipped to mandate day-to-day instruction at the ultra-religious schools. The DOE said it requested the “earliest possible staff training” on the updated guidance and that it plans to commence visits, evaluations, recommendations, and findings of “substantial equivalency” once it finishes the training.

“Substantial equivalency” means a program is comparable in content and educational experience to a secular public school, but that it could vary in the method of delivery and format. Moster said that while the guidelines represent “a step in the right direction,” they still reinforce the “unconstitutional framework” in a state law that gives the state authority over schools that meet certain criteria. In July, Yaffed filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the law safeguards yeshivas from oversight. The lawsuit is pending in Brooklyn federal court, according to Eric Huang, lead counsel for Yaffed.

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