We have had it up to here with Governor Kathy Hochul’s constant refrain that as governor she has no role to play in helping us in the ongoing war New York State is waging against yeshivas.
This despite the fact that it is the Department of Education, a state agency, which is insisting that yeshivas must subject themselves to the strict scrutiny of governmental officials seeking to ensure that their views on education drive yeshiva education – that yeshivas must provide an education that is “substantially equivalent” to what is provided in the public schools.
No matter that this would likely trump the educational choices parents might want to make for their children and their vision of what sort of life they want them to be prepared for. No matter that this would undoubtedly open the door to the eventual exposure of yeshiva students to religiously objectionable concepts and values.
No matter that this will necessarily impinge on the time available for religious study.
No matter that our yeshivas are our core concern – our past, our present and our future.
When asked what she thought about the recent, infamous New York Times hit job on yeshiva education just prior to the DOE’s release of its latest “substantial equivalence” regulations, Gov. Hochul gave her now typically indifferent response:
We believe that every child in the state of New York deserves to have a very high quality of education. People understand that this is outside the purview of the governor. There is a regulatory process in place, but the governor’s office has nothing to do with this.
Yes, we are well aware that the DOE reports to the Board of Regents, which in turn reports to the New York State legislature. But think about it: the governor of New York State has plainly declared that we cannot count on her for help in avoiding the compromising of our yeshivas! Has she never heard of the governor’s “bully pulpit?” Can she really be unaware of the tremendous leverage a governor has over other branches of government?
Where are the Jewish community’s calls for turning Gov. Hochul out of office in November and replacing her with her Republican opponent, someone who has declared himself all in on this most fundamental of issues?
Here is the most recent statement from Congressman Lee Zeldin (R – District 1) on the issue:
Yeshiva education teaches values that have their students living law-abiding productive lives, and provides high-quality learning experiences for so many young boys and girls. New York is wrong for pushing these substantial-equivalency standards, and Kathy Hochul has been AWOL every step of the way, claiming this is all outside her purview as Governor as if she isn’t even allowed to have and express an opinion….
Instead of defending access to choice and other educational options that fit each child’s needs, Kathy Hochul stands idly by and does nothing to set any of the record straight. Meanwhile, the State Education Department and Board of Regents continues to expand its power as an unelected fourth branch of government. As Governor, I will promote more school choice, not less, and do everything in my power to fight for students first and empower parents to be in control of their family’s destiny in life and truly be in charge of their child’s education and upbringing.
It would seem a no-brainer to call for Hochul’s ouster. Yet the calls have not come.
To be sure, we are not unmindful of the fact that, for many months, polls showed Gov. Hochul enjoying a healthy lead over Rep. Zeldin. There is also the reality that there are significantly more registered Democrats than Republicans in New York State. Communal leaders can hardly be dismissive of the possible consequences of not backing a probable winner.
Of late, however, the polls have substantially tightened and Gov. Hochul is vulnerable. High crime rates and the farcical bail system are still albatrosses around the governor’s neck; more ominously, concerns about possible “pay to play” scandals are now also being raised.
Some questionable projects favoring political contributors have made news in the past and are still of interest, including her administration’s reported giveaways to the owners of the Buffalo Bills and a Penn Station-area developer. Additionally, serious attention is now being focused on last Friday’s news report that the Hochul administration recently paid $280 million more for Covid-19 tests than it needed to because it used a campaign contributor as an intermediary and did not deal directly with the manufacturer.
Rep. Zeldin definitely has a serious pathway to defeat Gov. Hochul, and our leaders should reassess their strategies accordingly.