Last week’s Jewish Press article by Sandy Eller about nebulous new regulations from the New York State Department of Education – which are being read by many as foreshadowing the imposition of time requirements for secular instruction in yeshivas and other non-public schools – created quite a stir.
The article provided original reporting with hard data on how most yeshivas regularly outperform their public school counterparts on such standardized tests as Regents examinations, calling to mind the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
To be sure, the new regulations are technically aimed at the lower grades, but the superior performance of yeshiva students in the upper grades on the standardized tests surely at least means that the system – as a whole – is presumptively “not broke” in the lower ones.
We suspect that the New York education officials behind the new guidance are insufficiently informed as to the effectiveness of the various yeshiva programs in play. It would be a sad commentary indeed if they did not feel they needed to include our community’ representatives in their planning.
While we are mindful that the NYS education commissioner, who presides over the Education Department, is appointed by the state Board of Regents, who are in turn chosen by the legislature, we call upon Governor Cuomo to use his bully pulpit to ensure that yeshivas will be able to continue to offer time honored courses of instruction that embody the centrality of Torah study.
Some time go, the governor took up the cudgels when he had differences with the education commissioner over the content of the Common Core curriculum. We would hope for no less interest in our community’s problem.