Secular Education in Chasidic School
A recent New York Times “revelation” on Chasidik Yeshiva education in New York State did not disappoint.
A long front-page article described the willful underperformance of secular educational programs in Shasidik schools, the misdirection of government funding for school programs and services, and the prevalence of corporal punishment in schools. , portrayed disturbing situations such as substance abuse and the growing problem of homelessness. You’re trying to escape the oppressive constraints of your Chasidic upbringing.
So it was not until days later that the New York board voted overwhelmingly to impose a system for reviewing nonpublic education providers in the state and enforcing secular curricula in all schools. It was not surprising.
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The reaction to the article and regulatory moves were predictable.
Those on the left focus on Chassidic Boys’ High School’s refusal to provide its students with basic English and math education. Worst test score failure of a student. and the inadequacy of these schools to provide government funding for educational programs that are wholly religious in nature.
Those on the right challenge the report and the prejudice and condescension of those who promoted it. Criticize the lack of understanding and appreciation of the educational efforts of the Chasidic community. This does not define success as worldly literacy achievement. And it highlights the amazing success of the deliberately closed Chasidic community, which has fostered a thriving and growing community committed to religious values, volunteerism, and charitable giving. advocating for the right of the Chassidic community to decide what is right for their children. Like the Amish community, which the U.S. Supreme Court exempted from high school education half a century ago.
As is often the case with this type of debate, the people presenting the arguments often talk too much to each other. Both sides are so focused on their own issues that they ignore some of the underlying issues that cause problems.
For example, little commentary focuses on the meaning or appropriate measure of the regulatory requirement of “substantial equivalence” as it relates to education provided in nonpublic schools. Struggling advocates also ask whether possible means can be developed to address targeted school performance issues without unnecessarily affecting their religious concerns. Not investigated.
In this regard, Regent’s regulatory approach of imposing educational requirements rather than establishing performance standards seems particularly problematic. If the intention is to improve the lives of children enrolled in Chasidic schools, and regulators are willing to respect the religious concerns of the institution, why should standards of instruction or hours of detention be mandated? . Why not instead consider results-based standards that are equally applicable to public, private and homeschooled children? All schools are judged by the same standards and deliver the same results.
Of course, such an approach would require the involvement of the State Department of Education in Chassidist schools. This means understanding their educational and religious concerns and helping to resolve them. The alternative of imposing instructional requirements makes little sense. Because it almost guarantees endless lawsuits and further delays in the very educational goals the state claims it is pursuing.