(JTA) — Hasidic-run yeshivas in New York could lose funding for textbooks, transportation and other state-provided services under new guidelines issued by the state Education Department.
Under the new rules, representatives of school districts will visit each nonpublic school once every five years to observe and determine whether the schools are providing enough instruction in required subjects such as English, math, social studies and science.
The education of the approximately 57,000 students at New York yeshivas has been under a spotlight for failing to hold to the same standard of basic secular instruction as other schools.
New York City launched a probe into its yeshiva system in 2015 following a complaint by the Young Advocates for Fair Education, or YAFFED. The state charged that 39 Orthodox institutions were failing to meet state standards requiring private schools to offer a curriculum “substantially equivalent” to that of the public system. More than one-third of the schools did not allow inspectors to enter.
State Sen. Simcha Felder, an Orthodox Jew whose district includes the Hasidic enclave of Borough Park, earlier this year held up passage of the $168 billion fiscal plan until the state agreed not to interfere in the curricula at Orthodox yeshivas. A bill that he authored and passed puts haredi Orthodox yeshivas under the authority of the state rather than local education officials.
Although some welcomed the ruling for putting scrutiny on the schools, others doubted whether the five-year process would be adequately enforced or bring about its intended results.
The initial round of school reviews will start in the 2018-19 school year and will conclude by December 2020.