NEW YORK (Sep. 1)
Children attending Jewish day schools in New York City will be among the beneficiaries of a $65,000,000 program approved by the New York City Board of Education yesterday to help disadvantaged public and non-public school children. The program is to be financed with funds from Title I of the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, has been the subject of widespread debate among Jewish organizations. Orthodox Jewish groups have joined with other similar groups in opposing it on grounds of breach of church-state separation.
In approving the program, in which a Board official estimated that $3,500,000 would be used exclusively for projects in religious schools, the Board listed for the first time the criteria it would use in deciding the eligibility of religious schools and children who attend them. The criteria were promptly called “unfair” by religious school educators.
As a basic yardstick, the board said that any non-public school in which more than 10 percent of pupils received free lunches under a Federal program would be qualified to get Title I help for programs conducted during the regular school day. A total of 213 nonpublic schools asked for a share of the $65,000,000. These included Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and ether denominations. An investigation of 156 of the applicant schools indicated that only three would be ineligible for the aid, the Board said.
Rabbi Bernard Goldenberg, director of school organization of Torah Umesorah, the Society for Hebrew Day Schools, questioned the use of free lunch as an appropriate yardstick. Rev. Eugene J. Molloy, chairman of the Committee of Non-Public School Officials, also challenged the use of that yardstick and said that it would mean exclusion of a significant number of pupils from such aid. The committee represents Jewish as well as Christian religious school officials.