You may have heard that the New York State Education Department recently published proposed Regulations about “substantial equivalency of instruction” required for students attending nonpublic schools.
This can have severe ramifications for yeshivos and day schools across the board in NYS, so we wanted to provide some answers to common questions we are receiving about this serious development.
Q: How might the proposed regulations affect my child’s yeshiva?
A: The Regulations, on their face, may require schools to make major adjustments to their limudei kodesh and secular programming.
For example, the proposed regulations specify 1) the number of required hours – as many as 4-5 hours per day, depending on grade level; 2) more than 12 required subjects, including, at the lower elementary level, consumer and family science, visual arts, theater, media arts, career development, occupational studies, etc.; 3) assessment of teachers to an undefined standard.
Results, grades, competencies, graduation rates, or other factors regarding equivalency to public schools are not taken into account for these purposes.
To view the proposed Regulation click here.
Q: Didn’t the court already strike down the SED Guidelines 3 months ago?
A: Yes, those Guidelines were thrown out by the NY State Supreme Court in response to lawsuits brought by Agudath Israel, PEARLS, Torah Umesorah, and other groups. However, the court struck down the Guidelines because the State Education Department failed to comply with the technical requirements for new rulemaking. By publishing its “proposed Regulations” in the NYS Register, SED has now started an “official” process in compliance with those requirements.
Q: How do the new proposed Regulations differ from the previous Guidelines??
A: The new Regulations are substantially identical to the previous Guidelines.
Q: What happens now?
A: There is a sixty day public comment period (until September 2) when individuals can voice their concerns regarding these proposed regulations. At the conclusion of the process, the Regulations come before the Board of Regents for a vote, expected this fall.
Q: I heard that State Education Commissioner Elia resigned earlier this week. Does that mean this is over?
A: No. The impact of Commissioner’s Elia’s resignation on this issue is still to be determined, but the proposed Regulations have already been published and the comment period is in place.
Q: What is being done to fight for parents who choose, and sacrifice dearly, for their children to attend yeshivos?
A: The Agudah has been working with organizations in the community – PEARLS and Torah Umesorah, among others – to oppose the newest incarnation of the state’s attempt to control yeshivos. It should be noted that the Catholic and NYSAIS independent schools (which, together with Jewish schools, form the majority of nonpublic schools in NYS) also strongly oppose these regulations.
Q: Is there anything I can do?
A: Yes! SED is required, by law, to read comments submitted. While many have previously signed petitions, which is important, these comments are required to be read by law. We have set up a system, where, with just a few clicks, you can voice your opinion on this critical matter.
Q: I live in Chicago, but the overreach of these regulations concerns me. May I register my comment?
A: The regulations do not restrict comments to NYS residents.