Photo Credit: Jim Henderson via Wikipedia
Yeshivah of Flatbush

According to a Manhattan Institute report published last week, there are 300,000 fewer students in New York State today than there were in the school year 2000–01, with the decline being much greater outside New York City. Statewide, private schools have experienced a 16% decline in enrollment since 2000–01. Statewide, enrollment in Catholic schools has declined by 49%.

Meanwhile, according to the same report, written by Ray Domanico, a senior fellow and director of education policy at the Manhattan Institute, enrollment in Jewish schools is up by 62.6%. And as independent schools such as Dalton, Brearley, and Horace Mann have grown by 10.9% during this 20-year period, Jewish schools have now become the largest group of private schools in the state, educating more students than do the state’s charter schools.


“In New York State as a whole, and in New York City, Jewish schools educate more students than schools of any other religious affiliation,” says the MI report. “There are many more students enrolled in Jewish schools in New York State as a whole than are enrolled in public charter schools.”

Illustration image / ThoseGuys119 via Flickr

The mission of the Manhattan Institute—founded in 1977—is to “develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.” MI often collaborates with cities and public officials: after 9/11, the NYPD asked MI to advise the police on developing a counterterrorism strategy; in Newark, NJ, they partnered with Mayor Cory Booker to implement a new prisoner reentry policy, based on paid work upon release; in 2012–13, MI experts helped Detroit implement Broken Windows policing; and in 2017, MI launched a project to identify ways to finance charter school facilities in New York, enabling the sector to keep up its growth and be able to educate more students.

According to the new report (A Statistical Profile of New York’s K-12 Educational Sector Race, Income, and Religion), “New York City has much higher enrollment in private schools than the rest of the state. The census estimates that 19.4% of the city’s schoolchildren attend private schools, compared with 10.5% of the students in the rest of the state.”

“In the city, private schools serve both wealthy and lower-income communities. In city families with an income of $250,000 and above, 61.8% of all students are enrolled in private schools. And those students do not, by and large, come from rich homes: of the private school students in the city, 69.5% reside in census tracts where median family income is below $100,000. In these census tracts combined, 15.9% of students are enrolled in private schools,” according to the report.

Illustrative Photo: Yeshiva Bochrim (Students) / Yaakov Naumi/Flash90

The report states: “There are a small number of modest- to lower-income districts outside the city with high private school enrollment; these tend to be home to large concentrations of orthodox Jewish families and the Jewish schools that serve them.”

“Religious schools exist on a different dimension from exclusive private schools,” says the MI report. “Here, parents seek education for their children grounded in their own culture and faith traditions. Religious schools are often tradition-bound and resistant to the rapidly changing social and educational norms that some perceive in public schools. This was true of Catholic schools in their heyday, and it is true of orthodox Jewish schools today.”

In fact, according to the report, over the past two decades, “enrollment in Catholic schools in the city and the rest of the state has dropped by half; and Jewish schools have grown by 46.3% in the city and 106.7% in the rest of the state.”

The report notes that “ongoing debate about the appropriateness of public funding of religious schools, or tuition tax credits for religious school scholarships, will likely focus on the different approaches to family values and educational content.”

As well they should: if different family values than those preached in public schools result in a 104% rise in enrollment – by some of those family values…