N.Y. State Board of Regents to require private schools to follow minimum academic standards

N.Y. State Board of Regents to require private schools to follow minimum academic standards

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NEW YORK — In a long-awaited move, the New York State Board of Regents voted Tuesday to require private schools to comply with the state’s minimum academic standards.

The maneuver could impact dozens of Hasidic yeshivas in New York City and the Hudson Valley.

The vote followed an alarming New York Times investigation that uncovered the troubling inability of yeshiva students to pass standardized tests, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

The ruling underscores a years-long tug of war between proponents of Jewish religious education and those who say there should also be a secular component of basic non-religious subjects.

The Board of Regents approved new oversight rules that would make it easier to crack down on religious and other private schools to insure they provide a secular education in subjects like English and math that are substantially equivalent to what public schools offer.

READ MOREReport claims New York City’s Hasidic schools don’t provide students a basic education   

The proposal was discussed extensively at the board meeting Monday. On Tuesday, a vote was held on “the proposed addition of Part 130 of the regulations of the commissioner of education relating to substantially equivalent instruction for non-public school students.”

The move is being hotly contested by the Hasidic yeshiva community. A spokesman for the yeshivas told CBS2 they oppose the Board of Regents’ ruling.

“Parents in New York have been choosing a yeshiva education for more than 120 years, and they are proud of the successful results, and will continue to do the same, with or without the support of state leaders in Albany,” the spokesman said.

The vote is a victory for Young Advocates for Fair Education, a group that filed complaints with the city, charging that dozens of yeshivas were graduating students who couldn’t read and write English.

The group’s then-executive director, Naftali Moster, told Kramer in 2017 that he was a victim of poor secular education.

“In elementary school and some of middle school we received approximately 90 minutes of secular education. In high school, we got no secular education at all,” Moster said.

Ari Hershkovitz told Kramer in 2017 he had to teach himself to read and write after attending a yeshiva in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

“I left school when I was 18. After I was 18, and I do not have a high school diploma or even the knowledge that a high school diploma comes with,” he said.

The next step is for the city to investigate dozens of yeshivas and report back to the Board of Regents by next fall. The Department of Education will have to hire lawyers to do the probe.

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