Common Cause/NY Tells Councilmembers to Stop Protecting Political Interests and Stand Up for Yeshiva Students

NEW YORK, NY (12/21/2018) (readMedia)-- Yesterday, several members of the New York City Council signed a letter protesting the State's revised education guidelines for privates schools, including yeshivas. In response, Common Cause/NY Executive Director, Susan Lerner, issued the following statement:

"Yeshivas have been taking public money while skirting state education standards to the detriment of their students for decades. The fact that politicians continue to defend this willful neglect of the law speaks more to the Ultra-Orthodox community's political influence than a real concern for parent choice. It's long past due for city officials, including the City Council, to put aside politics and prioritize the public interest by making effective use of their oversight powers to protect all schoolchildren."


In June, Common Cause/NY, Workmen's Circle, and Yaffed, wrote a letter demanding that Public Advocate James and New York City Comptroller Stringer use their respective oversight powers to launch an investigation into the City's failure to hold yeshivas responsible for skirting state educational standards. Stringer has not publicly responded, and James has only said she would look into it when pressed at a press conference.

According to New York State law, nonpublic schools must provide an education that is "substantially equivalent" to that of public schools. Of the nearly 60,000 children attending a Hasidic yeshiva in New York City, most boys under age thirteen receive a paltry amount of instruction in English and math each week. Students are frequently taught by unqualified teachers while other core subjects are simply not taught at all.

Nearly three years ago, the Department of Education announced an investigation into thirty-nine yeshivas for failing to meet the most basic educational standards. The results of the investigation have yet to be released. Another school year begins without any required oversight for thousands of yeshiva students.