Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited an Orthodox Jewish school for the first time since taking office, the New York Post reported Tuesday.
DeVos reportedly met with students and faculty at the Manhattan High School for Girls. She will also attend another Jewish school on Wednesday, the Post added.
DeVos has toured private schools affiliated with other religions to make the case for school choice policies. Many ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools have been criticized for leaving students without basic secular skills.
“The fastest growing Jewish denomination, the Hasidic community, provides little to no secular education to their boys (while most Hasidic girls do get a decent education),” Naftuli Moster, an advocate for more rigorous education at yeshivas, told Chalkbeat. “We urge Ms. DeVos to visit real Hasidic boys’ schools as well.”
DeVos, like many Orthodox Jewish groups, support offering public vouchers to attend private schools. Most other Jewish groups oppose such vouchers because of concerns about church-state separation.
DeVos praised Orthodox Jewish schools as a model for publicly funded education in March.
“I applaud Agudath Israel for their leadership and commitment to providing their community with access to educational options that meet the academic and religious needs of their families,” DeVos said after meeting at the Department of Education with leaders of the Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America.
“I look forward to continuing to work with Agudath Israel of America, the Orthodox Jewish community and all who believe that every child, regardless of where they live or their family’s income, should have an equal opportunity to a quality education,” she added.
Contact Haley Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org