New York City’s tabloids are having a field day with inflammatory editorials accusing some chassidic boys yeshivas of stonewalling an investigation by the NYC Department of Education into their alleged failure to comply with compulsory education laws.
The yeshivas are being accused of not offering a curriculum “substantially equivalent” to that offered in the public schools. The schools’ lawyer, Avi Schick, adamantly denies both the stonewalling claim and the underlying charge of inadequate instruction.
The stonewalling issue will play out in the coming weeks and months. But we think it important to comment now on certain items that are being obscured by the tabloid sensationalism and which are probative of the underlying charges against the yeshivas.
As Mr. Schick has noted publicly, the yeshivas under scrutiny provide an enriching education in a quality learning environment. Furthermore, the Torah education it offers improves a student’s reading comprehension; logical reasoning; mathematical analysis; appreciation of history; and understanding of botany and anatomy. Indeed, we submit that, in certain regards, a public school education is inferior when it comes to some of these subjects. And, as we understand the recently enacted New York State law sponsored by Senator Simcha Felder, these factors are well within the definition of “substantial equivalency.”
Perhaps most importantly, the United States Supreme Court has recognized the overarching right of parents to educate their children in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs and which will prepare them for their future. The Court acknowledged that fluidity exists in determining the appropriateness of an educational program.
We have no doubt that the curricula of the aforementioned yeshivas pass muster.