15 September 2016

Another Rock is About to Be Turned Over in New York Yeshivas

It looks like a lawsuit will reveal that New York Yeshivas have systematically evaded state requirements on the quality of their secular education:
A powerful New York law firm has entered the fight over haredi education in the city, throwing its weight behind a group dedicated to bringing the curriculum at yeshivot in line with state-mandated curriculum.

The Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED) announced on Monday its new partnership with the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher global law firm. “Together, we will work to hold the New York City and New York State Departments of Education accountable – once and for all – for their failure to uphold and enforce vital federal and state laws protecting the rights of tens of thousands of hassidic and ultra-Orthodox children in New York to a basic education,” the announcement read.


Since 2014 the organization has been pressuring New York State and New York City officials to change the situation in certain yeshivot where they don’t believe education is up to scratch. Last year, as reported by The Jerusalem Post, the City of New York launched an investigation into 39 Brooklyn yeshivot for alleged failure to meet the state-mandated educational curriculum. More than a year later, YAFFED is unsatisfied with the lack of visible results.


YAFFED has received backlash from the haredi community for trying to change the Orthodox way of life, and particularly for having operated through channels outside of the ultra-Orthodox world.
That last paragraph reflects what is a longstanding problem in Orthodox community.

This unwillingness to apply the sunlight of public scrutiny to shortcomings within the community causes real problems for that community, in this case creating a generation of adults completely unequipped to engage the world, a halachic requirement.

One of the tenets of Jusaism is that, "It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either."*

By eschewing the ability to meaningfully interact with the world, you are eschewing the the obligation to meaningfully interact with the world.

It appears that New York state politicians have put the enforcement of educational standards on the back burner for fear of a backlash from the Orthodox community.

*Rabbi Tarfon, Pirke Avot 2:21


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