One of the more interesting part of my job is attending or watching legislative hearings across the country. Sometimes you hear shocking comments, like why school choice supporters have similarities to Dr. Josef Mengele, the cruel Nazi “doctor” of Auschwitz. This week, I watched parts of an eight-hour hearing on Senate Bill 3 in the Texas Senate Education Committee. The committee members questioned many of the more than 100 witnesses and it led to some fascinating discussions about the issue of school choice.
The Texas bill, which passed the committee 7-3, would create a scholarship tax credit program and a broad education savings account program which would allow parents to control the state education funding earmarked for their child. The witnesses included Rabbi Yisroel Katz and Rabbi Aryeh Feigenbaum of Dallas (their testimony can be viewed here at 2:15 and 3:10 respectively) who represented the Orthodox community. There were several witnesses, however, who elicited audible reactions from the audience. Jason Moore (55 min) had several notable comments, including his argument to the committee, that if parents were smart enough “to elect each one of you”, they are probably wise enough to pick the school that best fits their child. Earlier, (20 min.) a representative of public school special education administrators said that “we don’t want our parents to leave when they’re unhappy with the education” they’re receiving in the public school. That comment was met with audible laughter from parents in the audience.
The issue of parents of special needs students unhappy with their local public school was the subject of the US Supreme Court ruling this week. Agudath Israel issued a statement about the case and a separate statement in support of Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch.
Agudath Israel’s rescheduled Albany mission on Monday focused mainly on education issues. A highlight video can be viewed by clicking on the image below. To see the rest of the report and pictures click here.
Lastly, our New Jersey director, Rabbi Schnall was busy this week leading the effort to reinstate security funding for nonpublic school students and planning his next steps after a disappointing decision by Jackson Township’s decision to ban dormitories and restricts the building of new schools.