NYC Investigating 40 Ultra-Orthodox Schools in Brooklyn

Amid claims the schools give "poor quality and scant amount of secular education."

Patch, New York/July 29, 2015

By Simone Wilson

A city probe has been launched into the educational programs at 38 ultra-Orthodox Jewish boys’ schools (yeshivas) in Brooklyn, and one in Queens.

The NYC Department of Education (DOE) launched the investigation in response to a letter from Yaffed, a progressive Jewish group “committed to improving general studies education alongside traditional curricula” at ultra-Orthodox schools.

Fifty-two members of Yaffed signed the letter.

“We are parents of current students, former students and former teachers at the Yeshivas on the attached list, which are in your School Districts,” they wrote to seven different DOE superintendents. ”We are writing to express our deep concern about the poor quality and scant amount of secular education, particularly English instruction, at these Yeshivas.”

Harry Hartfield, a spokesperson for the DOE, says the department is investigating the allegations.

“We take seriously our responsibility to ensure that all students in New York receive an appropriate education,” he says, “and we will investigate all allegations that are brought to our attention.”

However, Yaffed’s executive director, Naftuli Moster, claims the DOE has ignored many previous complaints lodged by his organization.

That’s why Yaffed went with a dramatic approach this time — naming all 39 schools, and all 52 objectors, one by one. (They’ve asked both the DOE and the media not to release this list of names.)

“The yeshivas that are listed, they are only a small sample of what’s really out there,” Moster tells Patch. He claims that their disregard for city educational standards ”has been going on forever.”

Although the yeshivas are privately run and funded, Moster says, many receive public funds for buses, books, food, etc.

And even if that wasn’t the case, Yaffed’s letter points out that ”New York law requires all nonpublic schools to provide an education that is ’substantially equivalent’ to that available in public schools.”

The Brooklyn yeshivas on Yaffed’s list — mostly located in Borough Park and Williamsburg, with a few in Crown Heights and one in Flatbush — aren’t even coming close, Moster says.

From the letter:

"Generally speaking, at the listed Yeshivas, English and mathematics are taught from around age 7 to age 13 for an average combined time of only 90 minutes and on only four days a week. Other secular subjects are not taught at all, let alone taught in English. At these Yeshivas, English instruction for boys stops at age 13. Girls generally receive a better secular education than do boys but we are still concerned that it is not sufficient to prepare them for their futures."

“Every year, 10s of thousands of boys are being deprived of a secular education,” Moster says. ”It’s mind-boggling that this is all happening under our noses, in our backyard.”

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos