NY state triples STEM funding in private schools following push by Jewish lobbyists


(JTA) — The newly passed New York state budget includes $15 million for STEM instruction in nonpublic schools, which supporters of Jewish day schools had lobbied for intensely.

The increase appears in the $168 billion budget 2018-19 budget for the fiscal year 2019, which was passed Saturday and took effect on Sunday. It represents a 200 percent increase over the $5 million in last year’s budget, according to Teach NYS, a part of the Orthodox Union’s Teach Advocacy network.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

“Our nonpublic schools are an economic driver for New York State, and this funding increase will help us ensure our students have access to the education they need now to contribute to the economy of the future,” Neil Cohen, Teach NYS co-chairman, said in a statement.

The Teach Advocacy network advocates for state funds for qualifying nonpublic school programs to help offset tuition costs. Agudath Israel of America, the New York State Catholic Conference and the UJA Federation of New York joined with the O.U. to lobby for the state budget funds.

The O.U. advocacy arm lists nearly 40 Jewish day schools in New York as “partner schools.”

The new budget also kept funding for security for nonpublic schools at $15 million.

The budget includes a provision that eases oversight of nonpublic schools, allowing haredi Orthodox yeshivas leeway in complying with state law requiring private schools offer students instruction that is “at least substantially equivalent” to that offered in public schools. State Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who represents several haredi neighborhoods in Brooklyn, had threatened to withhold his needed support for the budget without the provision.

Nonpublic schools in New York educate more than 400,000 students, according to Teach NYS.


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