Yeshivas can’t have it both ways

Although New York State law requires that nonpublic schools must provide an education “substantially equivalent” to that of public schools, a lawsuit says many yeshivas do not (“A Law Tailored for Orthodox Jewish Schools Is Unconstitutional, Lawsuit Says,” The New York Times, Jul. 23).  That’s because these ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools exist primarily to study Jewish texts, which denies students instruction in English, math, science, and American history.

Supporters of yeshivas argue that the number of hours spent on secular subjects is not an indication of a quality education.  There is some truth to that view.  But how else can the education offered by yeshivas be objectively measured?  If yeshiva students were required to take state tests, then perhaps the results would answer the question.  But they are not required to do so.

I support parental choice, but I also support the law.  Exempting yeshivas from the state law creates a dangerous precedent that other nonpublic schools will eventually cite to avoid accountability.  Lost in all of this, of course, are the students who are being shortchanged for life after graduation.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

2 Replies to “Yeshivas can’t have it both ways”

  1. Not clear exactly how the NYS law is worded. From the two NYT articles, it certainly sounds like the NYS legislature is treating Jewish Orthodox day schools differently than all other private schools. Obvious constitutional violation.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: Yes, yeshivas in New York State are being treated differently in this regard than other nonpublic schools. I think the courts will rule against yeshivas. It’s clearly a political carve out.

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