Private schools not exempt from ‘substantially equivalent rule’

New York State requires that all private and religious schools provide an education that is “substantially equivalent” to that in public schools.  The rule recently was in the news after critics said that some yeshivas failed to teach enough secular subjects.  A new suit filed by the New York State Association of Independent Schools on behalf of its 192 members argues that district boards of education have too much power to judge their curriculums (“Private Schools Sue Over New York’s Push to Increase Oversight,” The Wall Street Journal, Mar. 7).

I’ve written often why I support the right of parents to send their children to any school they alone believe best meets their needs and interests.  If private schools are compliant, I fail to see why they would object to oversight.   In fact, I would think that they would welcome such oversight as a selling point.  Let’s not forget  that private schools are in competition with each other.  Anything that helps them distinguish themselves should be welcomed.  Oversight does not mean interference.  It just means compliance with the law.

Private schools would still be allowed to create their own curriculum.  Only if it significantly deviated from the curriculum offered by public schools would a problem arise.  That’s why I think private schools are overreacting in filing their suit.

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