We are still in the beginning stages of the 2022 campaign for New York governor, but it is nonetheless somewhat surprising that our leaders and organizations have not done more to make looming governmental control of our yeshivas through the imposition of “substantial equivalency regulations” more of a campaign issue. The way we see it, whether the New York State Education Department will be allowed to play a significant role in how we decide our legacy is to be passed on to our children is not something we can allow to just hang out there. It must be central to all of our efforts in the run-up to the November 8 election.
At the very least, it is time to press both the Republican and Democratic nominees to go on the record about what they will do to protect our traditions from the likes of those “wokes” who largely control the educational establishment and who are committed to infecting our schools with peculiar notions of transgenderism, racism, cancel culture, moral equivalency, and secularism.
Can our leaders and organizations have missed the fact that the Democratic candidate, incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul, has been studiously vague about the question, while the Republican candidate, Rep. Lee Zeldin, has expressed his dissatisfaction with NYSED plans in the strongest terms.
Gov. Hochul typically continues the line she used in the primaries: that she visits yeshivas and appreciates that they have an important role to play; that she is “listening to the concerns of the community and is taking them very seriously”; and that the DOE “is not an agency over which [a governor] has jurisdiction or oversight.”
Yet Congressman Zeldin persistently maintains that “the state is wrong to be pushing the substantial equivalency standards.” Yeshivas provide “ a high quality education,” he contends.
To be sure, Gov. Hochul is technically correct about the DOE not reporting to the governor, but that claim is clever by half. Governors, especially of the New York variety, are often noted for their effective use of the “bully pulpit” at their disposal.
At the very least, candidates should be asked not only their position on substantial equivalency, but also what they plan to do to make sure they do not enable a wholesale invasion of our yeshivas.
Those who undertake to plead our cause on this most important issue need to get with the program. They need to make sure that, come November, there will be a Jewish electorate fully informed about who will be there for us.