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July 30, 2016 / 24 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Education’

NY Gov Signs Anti-Boycott Law then Joins 52nd Israel Parade in Pouring Rain [video]

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

It was dry and cozy at the Harvard Club in Manhattan, where NY Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday announced a new executive order that bans companies supporting a boycott of Israeli products from doing business with NY State agencies. Outside, on Fifth Avenue, the stubborn marching groups of the 52nd annual Celebrate Israel parade were pushing ever forward under the persistent rain.

Gov. Cuomo spoke to an audience that included many Jewish leaders and lawmakers, describing the BDS movement as an “economic attack” on Israel. “We cannot allow that to happen,” the governor said, according to the NY Times. “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you.”

Mr. Cuomo signed the executive order, and then joined the wet masses in the parade.

The BDS usual suspects, such as the movement’s Qatari founder Omar Barghouti, called Cuomo’s move part of Israel’s “legal warfare against BDS,” and complained that Israel was trying to “delegitimize the boycott.” Mostly because the boycott represents an effort to delete, not just delegitimize Israel.

The governor later tweeted: “What a great honor it was to march in the @CelebrateIsrael parade today.”

It may have rained on Sunday in Manhattan literally, but it didn’t rain on Israel’s parade figuratively, as the Broadway Cast of Fiddler on the Roof, the band SOULFARM, – the Paprim Ensemble Dancers of Israel Dance Institute, and the Maccabeats — to name but a few — did their thing down the avenue.

Marching Bands included NYC Police, Cadets, Fusion Core, Saint Brigades Drum & Bugle Corps, Connecticut Hurricanes, Bushwhackers Drum & Bugle Corps, Long Island Sunrisers Drum & Bugle Corps, Upper Schuylkill Marching Band, Raiders Drum & Bugle Corps, Excelsior Drum & Bugle Corps, and Skyliners.

The parade featured floats and vehicles from the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center, American Friends of Magen David Adom, American Technion Society, American Zionist Movement, Ariel University, Avi Chai Foundation, Bank Leumi, Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada, Carmel, EL AL & Israel Ministry of Tourism, Gift of Life Marrow Registry, Dr. Felix Glaubach & Family, Hazon, Hebron Fund, Hillel Yeshiva, IDB Bank, IDT Corporation, Israel Bonds, State of Israel, Jfiix, Jewish Agency, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Jewish National Fund, Kars 4 Kids, Kids of Courage, Nefesh B’ Nefesh, One Israel Fund, Russian American Jewish Experience, Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc. & Iranian American Jewish Federation, Stand With Us, and UJA-Federation of NY.

Finally, this is the complete list of the marching groups:

92nd St Y/Jdate
AJC-American Jewish Committee
American Russian Jewish Community Cluster /COJECO
American Veterans of Israel Legacy
AIFL-American Israel Friendship League
ARZA
ASHAR
AZM
Barkai Yeshivah
Ben Porat Yosef
Berman Hebrew Academy – Rockville, MD
Bi-Cultural Day School
B’nai Jeshurun
Bnei Akiva of US and Canada
Boy/Girl Scouts of America
Brandeis School
Camp HASC
Carmel Academy
Center for Jewish Life
Chai Riders
Congregation Or Zarua
Cyprus Federation of America
Eagles Wings Ministries
East Midwood Hebrew Day School
Ezra Academy
Friends of Israel Scouts – Tzofim Tzabar
Friends of the IDF
Friends of Yashar LaChayal /East Brunswick Tri-Synagogue Alliance
Frisch School
Golda Och Academy
H.E.S. Hebrew Educational Society
HAFTR Lower/Middle/High School
HALB Middle School
HALB DRS
HALB SKA
HANC
Hannah Senesh Community Day School
Hazon
Heschel School
Hillel International
Hillel Yeshiva/HS
JAFI – Jewish Agency International Development
JCRC – Long Island
Jewish Educational Center
Jewish Educational Center – Bruriah
Jewish Educational Center – Mesivta,
Jewish Federation Northeastern, PA
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, NJ
Jewish Federation of North NJ
Jewish Federation Rockland County
Jewish Foundation School
Jewish War Veterans of the USA
Joseph Kushner Academy/Rae Kushner HS
Jscreen
Kinneret Day School
LGBT Cluster
Lone Soldier Center
Lower Merion Cluster
Ma’ayanot Yeshiva HS for Girls
Magen David Yeshiva Celia Esses High School
Magen David Yeshivah  (2015 Winner)
Maimonides Academy – Los Angeles
Manhattan Day School
Manhattan Jewish Experience
Marks Jewish Community House
Marlboro Jewish Center
Monmouth County – Federation from the Heart of NJ
Moriah School
National Conference of Shomrim Societies
Northeast Queens JCC
Northshore Hebrew Academy Middle/High Schools
OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services / Camp Kaylie
OU/Yachad/ NCSY
Progressive Cluster
Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School
Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva  (2015 Winner)
RAJE
Ramaz School Middle/High Schools
Rambam Mesivta – Midreshet Shalhevet
Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey
SAR Academy/High School
SHAI
Shorefront YM-YWHA
Shulamith School for Girls – Cedarhurst
Shulamith School for Girls of Brooklyn
Skaters and Bladers in Memory of JJ Greenberg
Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County
Solomon Schechter School of Long Island
Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan
Solomon Schechter School of Queens
Solomon Schechter School of Westchester
Team Lifeline (Chai Lifeline)
Temple Beth Abraham
Temple Israel of Great Neck
Temple Sholom of West Essex
Torah Academy of Bergen County -TABC
UJ Federation of Greater Toronto
United Congregations for Israel
United Mashadi Jewish Committee of America – UMJCA
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism/USY
Volunteers for Israel
Westchester Day School  (2015 Winner)
Westchester Hebrew High School
Westchester Jewish Council
Yavneh Academy  (2015 Winner)
YB Hillel of Passaic
Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore/Congregation Brothers of Israel
Yeshiva Derech HaTorah
Yeshiva Har Torah
Yeshiva High School 0f Boca Raton
Yeshiva of Central Queens  (2015 Winner)
Yeshiva University
Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle/High School  (2015 Winner)
Yeshivat BitaHon
Yeshivat Noam
Young Judaea/Hadassah
ZOA – Zionist Organziation of America

(Source: Celebrate Israel Parade)

David Israel

Haredim Dominate US Jewish Day School Enrollment

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Jewish day school enrollment in the United States is up 12 percent from five years ago, primarily due to growth in Haredi schools.

Then numbers present a scary picture of the future of non-Orthodox and non-Haredi-Hasidic American Jewry, who seem to be the only ones who seem to be able to attract parents to keep their children in a Jewish educational surrounding.

Nearly 255,000 students are enrolled in 861 Jewish day schools from the pre-K level through 12th grade, according to a new census of the schools conducted by the Avi Chai Foundation.

The day school survey, which has been conducted every five years since 1998-’99, found 59 more schools and 26,437 more students since the last study, in 2008-’09. Previous surveys found enrollment growth rates of about 11 percent in each five-year period.

The primary drivers of growth have been Hasidic students, whose enrollment has increased by 110 percent since the first census 15 years ago, and Haredi non-Hasidic yeshiva schools, which have grown by 60 percent since the 1998-’99 survey.

The challenge is “whether there will be sufficient resources to provide adequately for the growth in these two sectors,” said Marvin Schick, who conducted the survey for Avi Chai.

The Avi Chai survey counted the following approximately numbers:

—  82,000 students in 137 Hasidic schools;

— 76,000 students in 282 yeshivas;

—  46,000 students in 160 centrist or modern Orthodox day schools;

—  20,500 students in 97 community day schools;

—  12,600 students in 80 Chabad schools,

— 9,700 students in 39 Solomon Schechters;

—  3,700 students 13 Reform schools;

—  2,400 students in 19 immigrant/outreach schools;

—  and about 2,100 students in 34 special education schools. A few of the schools counted in the survey include non-Jewish students.

Overall, 60 percent of all Jewish day school students in America are Haredi.

By contrast, enrollment in non-Orthodox schools is declining.

Reform day school enrollment is down 19 percent from five years ago, to 3,704 students nationwide; enrollment in the Conservative movement’s Solomon Schechter schools is down 27 percent from five years ago, to 9,718 students; and non-denominational community day school enrollment has slipped by 2 percent, down to 20,413 students, according to the census. Together, these non-Orthodox schools have just 13 percent of all day school students. In 1998, the proportion was 20 percent.

The number of centrist or modern Orthodox students has stayed flat since 1998, at about 46,000 students. The survey divided those schools into two groups: modern Orthodox schools, which are generally co-educational and have about 27,000 students across 83 schools, and centrist Orthodox, which are generally gender-segregated and have about 19,000 students spread out over 77 schools.

In the 15 years since Avi Chai’s surveys began, Conservative day schools have taken the largest tumble. The number of Solomon Schechter schools has dropped to 39 from 63 in 1998, and the number of students has shrunk 45 percent, to 9,700 from 17,700 in 1998.

Some of those departing students were lost to community day schools, which since 1998 have grown by 22 schools and increased enrollment by about 5,500 students.

The figures were self-reported by every known Jewish day school in the United States, according to Avi Chai. In all, 37 states and Washington, D.C., have Jewish day schools. The primary concentration of Jewish schools is in New York and New Jersey, where day school students number 190,195, roughly 75 percent of the nationwide total.

The states with the next-largest day school populations are California, with 15,270 students, Florida with 9,248, Maryland with 7,556 and Illinois with 5,248 students. No other state exceeds 3,200 day school students.

JTA

Avigdor Lieberman Warns US Jews ‘You Are Facing a Catastrophe’

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

American Jews are facing nothing less than a demographic catastrophe, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asserted on Tuesday in a speech at the Jerusalem meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

He quoted recent surveys that show that there are 6.1 million Jews in Israel and slightly less than 5.5 million in the United States, not including those who claim affiliation or identity with Judaism.

Lieberman emphasized that no Jew – whether in the Diaspora or in Israel and whether Reform Conservative or Orthodox – “is illegitimate and should be placed outside of the tent,” but he added. “There is a significant rise in those who have little or no Jewish content in their lives, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish.”

He pointed out, “The intermarriage rate has reached a high of 58% for all Jews, and 71% for non-Orthodox Jews, a huge change from before 1970 when only 17% of Jews intermarried.”

Attachment to Israel is markedly higher among older Jews, with only 32% of respondents under the age of 30 sharing the idea that “caring about Israel as an essential part of what being Jewish means to them.”

Lieberman then put the cards on the table and categorically stated they are stacked against the Diaspora.

“For many years, Israeli officials have called on our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, like many of you gathered here tonight, to donate your time, energies and funds to Israel,” he said. “However, I turn to you today and say that, while we are enormously and forever grateful for your assistance, we believe it is now time to concentrate on the challenges facing your own communities, especially those emanating from the dangerous trends in the Jewish community demonstrated in the recent survey.”

Lieberman was being kind. He could just as easily have said, “You American Jews sit as armchair generals for Israel, undermine our government’s struggle by deciding how we should deal with the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world while you don’t see that the ground in the Diaspora is crumbling under your feet.”

In more diplomatic language, he said, “Above all discussions on Iran and the Palestinians, your discussions with the Israeli Government and the Jewish Agency should be focused on saving future generations.”

Lieberman stated that education is the key to fighting “assimilation, intermarriage and disengagement” but that “Jewish children are being kept from the Jewish classrooms because of the exorbitant and prohibitive costs of Jewish education in the United States.”

“On my last visit to New York, I met with a Russian Jewish family in Brooklyn,” Lieberman told his audience. “They told me that for their three children to attend good Jewish schools it would cost them around $100,000. They simply could not endure such costs. They are not alone. This situation is being replicated across the Jewish world, whether in the United States, Russia, France, Argentina, or elsewhere. If this situation persists, we will lose another six million Jews in a generation or two.”

He said that most Israeli diplomats abroad shun local Jewish schools and instead send their children to learn at international schools because the standard is higher.

“Sadly this is also reflective of the general Jewish population in places like the United States, where only around 12% of Jewish children attend Jewish schools, and when the Orthodox children are removed from the equation; it drops down to no more than a few per cent,” he added.

Lieberman proposed the creation of a global network of Jewish schools with a superior standard, and he committed the Israeli government to budget $365 million a year in matching funds for the project.

He also is looking forward to massive aliyah “The creation of an international network of Jewish schools is only the first part of my vision,” Lieberman declared. “In addition, my goal is to bring an additional 3.5 million Jews from the Diaspora in the next ten years so that the Jewish population in Israel will exceed 10 million.”

Jews are undoubtedly a major influence in American life, but the number of Jews who are Jewish “in name only” spells a dismal future for the Diaspora.

One of the most self-serving ways to deny the future is to accept the definition of a Jew as anyone who considers himself Jewish. That kind of identity is temporary, at best.

Jewish institutions and organizations maybe boasting larger numbers, but the meaning of Jewish is becoming emptier.

What Lieberman essentially told the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem Tuesday was, “Wake up. It’s later than you think.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

The Secret of Orthodoxy’s Success

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

There is a little known fact (outside of Lubavitch) about the founder of Chabad Chasidus, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi (the author of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav – also known as the Baal HaTanya). He supporeted the Czar of Russia in opposition to Napolean. R’ Shneur Zalman reasoned that the freedom that would result via Napolean’s emancipation from the Czar would cause Jews to go Off the Derech (OTD). He wasn’t entirely wrong.

Not that an anti-Semitic dictatorship like the Czarist Russia or the Soviet Union didn’t do the same thing or worse. Most Jews in the anti Semitic/anti religious Soviet Union were unable to remain observant. But it cannot be argued that too much freedom will result in the masses opting out of observant Judaism – or even Judaism altogether.  At least that is what the recent Pew study revealed. A shocking 70% of non Orthodox Jews marry out and only 20% of their children are raised with any semblance of Jewish identity.

Why is that? There are many reasons mostly having to do with a lack of any significant Jewish education. But that is only part of the story. An Interesting observation was made by Bethamie Horowitz in a Forward article that had a positive spin on that survey. Sort of positive – that is.

She noted that marrying out is not so much a function of going OTD as it is the result of an overwhelming sense of acceptance of Jews into American society of Jews and Judaism. That should be obvious to anyone who is paying attention. Here are some examples of that:

Yiddish words are increasingly seeping into the English language.

The Holocaust is perhaps the most revered subject in the public square today. Hollywood – which is probably the most influential component of American culture – will not let us forget it. Every year there is another Holocaust movie or documentary. Which is often nominated for an Academy Award.

The number of Jews winning the Nobel Prize was immense this year it seems. I believe that 22% of all Nobel Prize winners are Jews (Whereas only .2% of the world population are Jews.)

In fact there are so many indicators of our acceptance that it would take up too much space to include them all. I recall reading about a poll recently that said that Judaism is the most respected religion in America.

Not only are Jews no longer hiding their Judaism by changing their names; not wearing a Kipa in public (if they are male); and keeping  their religious practices completely private – if at all, they are now proudly proclaiming their Jewish identity.

It is now ‘cool’ to be Jewish in this country. But it is not cool to be observant. That is a burden that a proud assimilated and not religiously educated Jew can do without. Without a religious education the freedom to assimilate can and probably will lead you astray. Why be observant, an assimilated Jew might ask? Just be a proud Jew. The next generation will ask why even bother even being Jewish at all? ‘I don’t even like bagels’ they might say. ‘I prefer lobster!’  Intermarriage? What’s the big deal? It is completely accepted now.

The ultimate demonstration of that was one of the most famous intermarriages of the modern era. Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of a President married a Jew. Her wedding highlighted many aspects of a Jewish wedding, including a Chupah and a Kesubah. Her husband even wore a Kipa under the Chupah. And the media was all over this fawning over it like it was a royal marriage. As Ms. Horowitz points out:

A cartoon from the October 1, 2012, issue of The New Yorker depicted a couple and a wedding planner with the following caption: “No, we’re not Jewish. But we think it would be fun for our reception’s theme to be ‘A Jewish wedding.’”

So is R’ Shneur Zalman right? Should we be praying for a government that will oppress us? Is oppression the only thing that will keep us Jewish? Apparently that is what the Baal HaTanya believed. The Judaism of his generation was apparently very shallow. A Jew would not remain a Jew if given the chance – and the anti Semitic Czar would never give a Jew that chance.

He preferred persecuting us. And Jews remained Jewish and for the most part observant. Why observant? The communities were tight knit and going OTD meant being ostracized. Which of course meant that an OTD Jew would have no place to go since he was still a Jew and not accepted by Russian gentiles. He was worthy only of persecution.

What a sad commentary on Judaism if the best way to keep Jews observant is by keeping them oppressed. This is what R’ Shneur Zalmen wanted and it is why (I am told) he supported the Czar.

But I have to disagree with him and the entire premise of blaming freedom for the masses going OTD. It isn’t the fault freedom. It’s the fault of lack of a proper religious Jewish education. The vast majority o those of us who were properly educated are today observant… in an era of complete freedom and total acceptance by general society.

As Noah Feldman’s article in Bloomberg  pointed out, one need only look at Lakewood to see just how well religiously educated Jews are doing. Their growth has been exponential over the last couple of generations. That Noah Feldman  – a once Orthodox but now assimilated Jew who married out pointed this out – does not detract from the reality of what he said. (Ironically he was given a religious Jewish education. But he is the exception that proves the rule. Unfortunately there are a lot of exceptions. The reason for that is beyond the scope of this post.)

So there you have it. The real fault of why the vast majority of Jews in this country are not observant lies mostly with the lack of any significant religious education for the masses of Jews who immigrated here in the early 20th century. Jewish education was practically non-existent then. Coupled with the melting pot climate of assimilation and the requirement to work on Shabbos in order to keep your job…  the children of these immigrants ran away from observance in droves. They wanted to be Americans. Not Jews. Those 90 percent of Jews who are today are not observant are their offspring. Through no fault of their own – being completely bereft of any Jewish education – they do not know the definition of Judaism and see no value in it. As can be seen from the Pew study.

The good news is that many of these Jews do not have the biases of their parents or grandparents. Their parents and grandparents hated the burdens of being observant and ran away from observance. Their children don’t know enough about it to hate it. Of course this is not true in all cases. Many of these young people do not want to give up the freedom that non observance affords them. But a surprising number of them do.  That’s where organizations like NCSY comes in.

So, all is not lost. The lesson we should take from all of this is that we should appreciate and even cherish the freedom this great country of ours affords us. And  that oppression is not the way to keep Jews in the fold.  Being Jewish because circumstances force you to be is not a prescription for Jewish continuity. Education is. And that is the secret of Orthodox success in this – the free’est country in the world.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

Harry Maryles

Jewish Schools Advocacy Bringing Hundreds of Millions in Public Funds

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

By Uriel Heilman, JTA

Each year, when Frank Halper is faced with the state tax bill for his accounting business in Providence, R.I., he has a choice.

He can write a check for the amount owed by his company or, as part of a state tax credit program, he can send a check to a foundation that provides tuition scholarships to students at Providence’s two Jewish day schools. His tax bill will be credited for 90 percent of the contribution.

For the last five years or so, his firm has opted for the latter.

“We’re in favor of supporting these schools,” Halper said. “We feel Jewish education is the future of the Jewish people.”

Tax credit programs are among the growing number of ways that private Jewish day schools and yeshivas nationwide are collecting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars annually. The money is helping to defray operating costs, provide teacher training, assist students with tuition bills and enhance educational offerings.

A decade ago, few Jewish schools were aggressive about pursuing federal and state funding. But as day school tuition rates have climbed, outpacing inflation and the ability of recession-weary parents to pay, schools have become much more effective not only at accessing government money but in lobbying state government for more.

“The financial crisis of 2008 had a huge effect on tuition and affordability — I think that was really the game changer,” said Darcy Hirsh, director of day school advocacy at UJA-Federation of New York, which in October 2011 became the first federation in the country to create a position for day school advocacy. “Families that were able to afford day school are no longer able, and schools’ financial aid has grown tremendously over the last five years.”

Cincinnati Hebrew Day School students attending a rally for school choice in front of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, April 10, 2013.

Cincinnati Hebrew Day School students attending a rally for school choice in front of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, April 10, 2013. Photo: Agudath Israel

The Haredi Agudath Israel of America has long taken the lead in lobbying for government aid for Jewish schools. Two years ago it was joined by the Orthodox Union, which began hiring political directors in a half-dozen states to organize Jewish schools and lobby legislators.

In New York, the state with the largest day school population, Agudath Israel and the OU have been joined in their lobbying efforts by an unusual coalition that includes UJA, the Sephardic Community Federation, the Jewish Education Project and Catholic groups.

While media attention has focused on the alleged abuse of government funding programs by Jewish schools, suspect allocations represent just a trickle of the government funding flowing to Jewish schools.

The methods used by private schools to get government money differ from state to state and range from the complex to the Byzantine.

In Rhode Island, the tuition scholarship tax credit, which is available to families with incomes of less than the federal poverty level, is capped at $1 million statewide and open only to corporate donors. The credit is calculated at 75 percent for a single year and 90 percent if they donate for two, up to a maximum of $100,000 annually. The statewide cap is usually reached annually on July 1, the first day applications may be submitted.

In Florida, a similar program last year was capped at $229 million.

In New York, a lobbying effort two years ago resulted in legislation extending an exemption from a transportation payroll tax of 0.34 percent to private and religious schools — a seemingly small change, but one that saved an estimated $8 million per year.

“Figuring out how to do better at this is going to be one of the big keys to the whole tuition crisis,” said Rabbi Binyamin Krauss, principal of SAR Academy, a large Jewish day school in Riverdale, NY, where tuition and fees can run as high as $30,800 a year. “We’re looking to provide a quality education, Jewish and secular, and I think the solution will have to be to increase revenues. Government funding is going to need to be a major piece.”

Guest Author

School Choice, the Government, and You

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

As Jews, we assume a myriad of financial obligations in order to ensure that we live in accordance with the tenets of our faith. We give generously to our shuls and make charitable donations to various organizations that service the Jewish community. But one of the biggest investments we make is in our children’s future, as we enroll them in one of the many quality yeshivas our community boasts.

It is no secret that the cost of yeshiva tuition is of great concern to numerous parents in our community. Often the subject of conversation at Shabbos tables, it is always on the minds of every family with children in yeshiva.

There have been extensive discussions and debates over the years about finding ways to alleviate the financial burden borne by tuition-paying parents. Much of the conversation has focused on the role of government in the business of educating our children. It is an age-old question: Should the government play a part in assisting parents of private and religious school students? More important, is the government permitted to do so?

It is not every day that a courthouse in Middle America takes center stage in the school choice movement. But on March 26, the justices of the Indiana Supreme Court unanimously upheld the state’s progressive voucher program.

The court’s decision rebuffed a 2011 challenge to Indiana’s voucher program brought by the Indiana State Teachers Association. In the court’s decision, Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote that the voucher program did not violate the constitution because the state monies “do not directly benefit religious schools but rather directly benefit lower-income families with school children.”

This was a monumental decision, in that it provided the state of Indiana with the legal justification necessary to continue its voucher program – one of the most ambitious in the United States. Unlike voucher programs in other states that focus primarily on lower-income families, the Indiana program allows parents with an annual household income of up to $64,000 for a family of four to participate.

By providing lower- and middle-income families with the necessary funds to cover tuition costs, the Indiana voucher program enables them to enroll their children in private schools, as opposed to having to send them to public schools.

Since Indiana established its voucher program in 2011, approximately 9,000 families, most of which chose to educate their children in private schools, have benefited from the program.

The decision to uphold Indiana’s voucher program is somewhat consistent with the progress that recently has been made on the school choice issue across the nation. There are a number of states – including Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Arizona – that either presently have or are considering the implementation of tax-credit or voucher programs that benefit parents of private school students,

Closer to home, Governor Christie has been supportive of creating a voucher program in New Jersey by allocating state funds in order to enable lower-income families to send their children to private school, if they so choose. In addition, there is a bill pending before the New Jersey State Legislature that would expand the current law in order to permit special needs students to be assigned by their respective school districts to a private religious school, such as a yeshiva.

In New York, Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature recently passed a budget that includes a $14 million increase in funding for non-public schools. That includes a more than 30 percent increase in funding for the Comprehensive Attendance Policy and a boost in state funding for the Mandated Services Reimbursement.

With momentum in the school choice arena perhaps shifting a bit in favor of private school parents, now is the time for our community to become further engaged in the process.

Let us not forget for a moment that powerful teachers’ unions, which typically oppose the utilization of any state funds that would benefit non-public schools in any way, wield a tremendous amount of power in Albany and Trenton and enjoy longstanding relationships with many New York and New Jersey state legislators. Relief for private school parents is not just going to fall into our laps. In order to bring about the aid we as private school parents need and deserve, we must stand up and make our voices heard.

N. Aaron Troodler

Dept. of Education Outreach Plan May Include Orthodox Groups

Monday, March 18th, 2013

The U.S. Department of Education outlined new efforts to bring non-profit schools into federally funded programs, an initiative that had been sought by Orthodox Jewish groups, among others.

State and local educational agencies “must ensure the equitable participation of eligible private school students and, as applicable, their teachers and parents” in such programs, the department’s Office of Innovation and Improvement said in its proposed plan for such inclusion, posted on the department’s website on March 14.

Such schools, including religious schools, must also be included in programs falling under disabilities education law, it said.

The Orthodox Union welcomed the initiative.

“Today’s announcement by the Department of Education is an important and pragmatic first step in improving the delivery of federally funded educational services to the nonpublic schools students who are entitled to receive them,” it said in a statement. “We appreciate the collaborative relationship we have had with White House and Department officials on this project, and we look forward to working with them to ensure its successful implementation.”

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/dept-of-education-outreach-plan-may-include-orthodox-groups/2013/03/18/

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