Agudath Israel of America hails the publication of a letter sent by 28 members of the New York City Council, expressing concern about the new substantial equivalency guidelines for nonpublic schools. The letter, spearheaded by Councilman Chaim Deutsch and cosigned by a majority of his colleagues on the council, was addressed to State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. It stressed the impact these rules would have on the schools in their districts.

The councilmembers noted that the guidelines could “severely disrupt religious Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish private schools.” They affirmed the legal right parents have to choose private schools for their children, and how the guidelines attempt, “to have private schools become curricular clones of the public schools.”

“Fundamentally,” the letter continues, “we are concerned that the State Education Department is forcing its way deep into private school practice with this unprecedented incursion into private schools’ curricula.”

Requesting a response from the Department, the letter concludes with the point that, “there is no reason to radically alter the relationship between the State and the private school community that has worked well since the 19th century.” The full letter can be read here.

The Agudah appreciates and applauds this meaningful response to the substantial equivalency guidelines by our elected city officials. The Agudah lauds the efforts of Councilman Deutsch, Jewish Caucus Chair, for organizing this important letter and working with Agudath Israel and community activists in collecting his colleagues’ signatures.

The Agudah requests that citizens concerned about this issue go to to register their protest by emailing their state officials.

Below you’ll find the letter that was sent from the New York City Council to Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.