Agudah wants faith-based pre-Ks in universal program


(JTA) — Agudath Israel of America, a haredi Orthodox Jewish organization, called on President Obama to include faith-based providers in his proposal to make preschool available to every child in the United States. 

In a letter Monday to Obama, Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel’s vice president for federal affairs and its Washington director, wrote, "if early education for every child is to be a reality, we must offer parents the widest range of options" for their children, including preschool programs that are operated by religious providers.

One of Obama’s major public policy priorities for the coming term, as announced in his State of the Union address earlier this month, is to make high-quality preschool available to all U.S. children.

Cohen suggested that including faith-based providers could be handled constitutionally, either through direct aid to parents or through direct grants to preschools that are not used for any sectarian purpose. 

Faith-based pre-K providers make up nearly one-third of all providers, according to Agudah.

"With such a significant percentage, it is simply inconceivable to think that meaningful movement forward in universal pre-K can come about without including the faith-based sector," Cohen wrote.

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