Single Status Update
Students pour out of a Jewish school, known as a yeshiva, in Brooklyn, June 8, 2022. (Jonah Markowitz/The New York Times)
New York Lawmakers Call for More Oversight of Hasidic Schools
Eliza Shapiro, Brian M. Rosenthal and Nicholas Fandos
Tue, September 13, 2022 at 7:51 AM·5 min read
NEW YORK — Top New York officials voiced grave concerns about the quality of education in Hasidic Jewish private schools on Monday, a day after The New York Times revealed that many of the schools taught only rudimentary English and math and virtually no science or history.
Two Democratic congressmen — Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Hakeem Jeffries, chair of the House Democratic Caucus — said they had serious concerns, with Nadler saying it was clear that some of the Hasidic schools were “utterly failing.”
“It is a paramount duty of government to make sure that all children — whether it’s those educated in parochial, private or public schools — are provided a quality education,” said Nadler, the senior Jewish member of the House, whose current district encompasses a major Hasidic neighborhood and who was himself yeshiva-educated. “It is our duty to all New York students to ensure that the law is enforced.”
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Jeffries, who represents parts of central Brooklyn, called for “a rigorous inquiry in order to make sure that the health and well-being of all children is protected.”
Daniel Goldman, who recently won a contested Democratic primary for a new congressional seat that includes Hasidic areas in Brooklyn, said he hoped the schools would work to comply with the law, adding that the Times report “paints a damning picture of an inadequate secular education that does not comply with state law.”
At the state level — where politicians routinely court the cohesive Hasidic voting bloc — the state Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said she was concerned about the lack of secular education in the Hasidic schools.
“The allegations in the story are deeply disturbing and must be addressed,” she said.
State Sen. Julia Salazar and Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher, both Democrats who represent heavily Hasidic Williamsburg, Brooklyn, said they were particularly alarmed by accounts of corporal punishment in the schools and would introduce legislation to ban such punishments going forward.
Other leaders, including Gov. Kathy Hochul and members of a powerful state education board, showed less willingness to criticize the Hasidic schools.
Hochul, a Democrat who has sought to appeal to Jewish voters before this fall’s gubernatorial election, declined to take a position on the Hasidic schools. She is ahead in polls, but, only a year after taking office, is still forging relationships with key groups across the state.
“People understand that this is outside the purview of the governor,” Hochul said Monday at an event in Harlem.
Although the state Board of Regents, not the governor, controls the state education department, Hochul is the most powerful politician in New York and can have significant influence over education issues.
For their part, members of the Board of Regents made no mention of the Times report in discussions Monday before an expected vote on new rules that would hold private schools, including the Hasidic schools, known as yeshivas, to minimum academic standards.
An attorney who has represented many Hasidic yeshivas, Avi Schick, recently said that Hochul’s chance of being reelected this November could be threatened by the Regents vote, even though the governor has not taken a public position on the rules.
Other New York Democratic officials either did not respond to inquiries or declined to comment Monday about the Hasidic schools, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chief of the House Democratic campaign committee.
New York Republicans, including Rep. Lee Zeldin, defended the schools and criticized the Times report. At a campaign event outside City Hall on Monday, Zeldin, who is running for governor against Hochul and is Jewish, suggested that public schools ought to be emulating “the values” of Hasidic schools, not the other way around.
Other state Republicans said they believed the government should not interfere with private religious education or parents’ ability to choose where their children are educated.
Benine Hamdan, the long-shot Republican candidate challenging Goldman in Brooklyn, said she opposed the state regulations, taking a shot at critical race theory. “While public schools are teaching CRT and sexuality, Hasidic schools should continue to have the right to teach Judaism,” she said.
“At my core, I believe all parents have the right to choose the educational setting they think is best for their children,” said Mark Martucci, a state senator who represents a district just north of New York City and added that he had toured yeshivas and had been impressed by the students.
In a state where Republicans are largely locked out of power, the party has been increasing its outreach to Hasidic voters who have consistently voted for Democrats in local elections but have begun favoring Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, in national races.
Published on Sunday, the Times investigation showed that Hasidic schools appear to be operating in violation of state law by denying thousands of students a basic education. The community operates more than 100 all-boys schools across Brooklyn and the lower Hudson Valley, which have received more than $1 billion in government money over the past four years alone.
The schools typically provide only 90 minutes a day of secular instruction, just four days per week, and only for boys ages 8 to 12. As a result, the students are failing to learn secular subjects at extraordinarily high rates, the Times found. More than 99% of students who took standardized tests in 2019 failed, according to state data.
At a news conference Monday, Mayor Eric Adams of New York City said he was “not concerned” about the Times’ findings but stressed that his administration was continuing a long-delayed city investigation into some Hasidic schools.
“I’m not going to look at a story. I want a thorough investigation. I want an independent review, and that’s what the city has to do. And we’re going to look at that,” Adams said. The mayor added that any instances of child abuse in the schools should be reported and investigated.
Over the past few years, Hasidic leaders have made keeping government out of schools their top political priority and have relied on officials elected from their community to help block the regulations.
One Hasidic politician, David Schwartz, a Hasidic district leader in Brooklyn, disputed reports of problems in the schools, including regular use of corporal punishment, saying, “I and my community — tens of thousands of caring parents and educators — are unfairly being paint-brushed due to the accounts of a few.”
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I want to first restate the key points in the article.
- The white jewish schools are operating with some level of illegality for an extended time
- government officials at the federal level <senator chuck schumer> new york state <governor hochul> or new york city level <mayor adams>are so frightened of the white jewish voting block aside the white jewish financial power that none have accepted the findings as true publicly while all want an extended time of deliberations which they would not give the black community or any part of the black community
- The defenders of the white jewish schools say parents have the right to place children where they want and to preserve the heritage in their community, in this case jewish. I think of the Black descended of enslaved MOVE movement in philadelphia and how a black mayor treated them for wanting to preserve their own culture.
- The white jewish schools , over one hundred all boys schools at least, received over one billion dollars in four years while providing per week only four days with ninety minute secular instruction.
- More than ninety nine percent of students in the white jewish private schools who took standardized tests failed in 2019, this is 2022.
Now what is my position. I don't care about: the white jewish schools whether committing illegality or not, the financial power of the white jewish community in New York City, the influence by the white jewish community on government officials<federal, state, city>, the white jewish community's heritage or culture being preserved or maintained, or the failure of white jewish students.
What I care about is the Black community all throughout humanity and in particular, the black community in New York City.
The Black community in New York City doesn't have a large private school system internally and yet Black teachers in public schools have been removed for the crime of disagreeing with administrators, on a first time offense, not for years of neglect doing their job.
I know the black community in NYC is fiscally poor, it started that way for enslaving black people was legal when new york was new amsterdam before the creation of the United States America. Sequentially, the Black community in NYC doesn't demand the trepidation from elected officials even though it historically votes as a block too.
From the Black Panthers to The Nation of Islam to the Rastafarians the Black community in NYC tends to have the loudest opposition internally to heritages or cultures from within a community. I can see a Black newscaster in New york city asking, what does it mean to have a Black school.
The black children of New York City have a financially impotent Black adult community, which includes me, who in majority, I am part of the black adult minority, continually preaches to them about merit or equality or voting while providing black children in new york city nothing. The black adult community in new york city, includes me, have failed the black children of new york city hiding behind a cheap veil of individual decency or merit when in truth we black adults are just flat broke and are too proud to admit it. Any Black adult who reads this, stop telling black children about the need to be more educated and start making money and giving it to black kids regardless of their scholastic quality. Any Black adult who reads this, stop telling black children about competitive spirit and start making sure governments give money for black kids to enjoy life more regardless of their demeanor. Any Black adult who reads this, stop telling black kids what they have to do and start telling black kids what you can't do, admit your impotency your weakness your poverty and tell the truth of you to black children.
I feel sorry for Black Children in new york city. I was once one, and while I was fortunate in the time span of my childhood from a homelife perspective or communal perspective, I despised local media in new york city which was and is ninety nine percent white owned. White owned new york city media never stopped reminding black children how they needed to do better in my childhood days, comparing black children to various children anywhere with one thing in common. At the time of comparison they are better than black children in New York City. While the same white owned news media of New York City, couldn't find time to discover how the French don't count the schools in the Balieues as part of their main surveys to the world , the japanese don't count the children who don't come to school at higher rates, the schools in the white towns or villages in the midwest where the curriculum is lower isn't admitted in the assessment to comparing the black children in new york city. Black children in NYC have been falsely attributed as consistent failures when in truth it is a mere trick of statistics. Any thing can be proven statistically, anything, the key is in the details. Black children in education have been attacked by statistical warfare and black adults, like me,let it happen.
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@Chevdove Education is a part of life:) I will never deny the need to keep an open mind, to want to keep learning... but when it comes to scholastic achievement in the USA. Black adults, to be blunt, have to change tact. We have to stop suggesting our children whom we can not provide for like White adults can to white children must overcome Black adult inability. I am not suggesting Black Adults tell Black Children to stop dreaming or working or desiring. But, this story not only confirms what many in NYC already knew. I can speak to that. But the story also exposes how unfair Black adults, who can't provide the kind of financial or environmental scenario for black children as a community, are to black children in asking them to overcome those walls. White children failing 99% with an average scholastic test, are going to a school getting billions. That is the power of the white adults. What are we black adults actually asking our children to to?
Yes. How can Black children overcome our inabilities without help?
Black adults do need to give children more than just words.
But then, another problem, I believe, is that many Black adults become parents at too young of an age and part of our failures has to do with maturity.
I believe we need elders, a community of elders to come together, and pool resources to help young
parents as well.