Last week, we reported on the New York State Education Department’s nonpublic school guidelines and our grave concerns with government overreach. In response to the public outcry, including a petition signed by more than 50,000 parents, the state issued a correction and clarification of a few of the requirements. As our statement (see here) makes clear, the correction (to a problem they were informed about nearly a yearly ago, yet failed to address in the original guidelines) does not solve the problem for most yeshivos. More importantly, the core problem with the guidance remains: it empowers the state to make curriculum decisions that, beyond certain minimal basics, should be made by parents and the religious leadership of the school and community, not government bureaucrats.
The Agudah has created a website http://yeshivosbychoice.org with videos and articles about the issues, including Rabbi Zwiebel’s interview on Agudah Live (here) and Neal McCluskey’s thought-provoking article in Forbes (here).
We also created an action center through which one can easily send a letter to state officials registering your protest. Please take a moment to be part of this initiative by going to http://yeshivosbychoice.org/action/.
This issue has garnered the attention of state and local officials with Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato sending a strongly worded letter to the Commissioner and 28 members of the New York City Council signed onto a letter (here), initiated by Councilman Chaim Deutsch. New York City residents, please contact the council members who signed the letter to thank them.
In the neighboring state of New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy signed a religious freedom bill, initiated by Agudath Israel (here), and Rabbi Avi Schnall urged constituents to contact the governor (here) to ask him to sign a bill that doubles security funding for nonpublic school students.
I’m privileged to work for an organization with so many amazing divisions, each of them addressing the various communal and individual needs of the Orthodox community. They do so much, it is often a challenge to summarize who we are and what we do in a few sentences. We therefore created an infographic to give people a better understanding of our government affairs division. Please take a look and send me your feedback so we can incorporate your suggestions in future versions.