Depriving Orthodox Children Of Education Hurts Our Communities by the Forward

Depriving Orthodox Children Of Education Hurts Our Communities

Image by iStock

Last April, passage of the New York State budget was delayed by a state senator’s contending there ought to be a separate, and weaker, standard for educating some children attending New York State’s non-public schools.

Opinion | Depriving Orthodox Children Of Education Hurts Our Communities

For decades, New York State required all school age children to be provided with a comparable program of instruction whether attending a public school or not. The requirement is based on the idea that all children attending public or non-public schools in New York State be prepared for their place in society.

The requirement called for children attending non-public schools to receive instruction that is substantially equivalent to that provided in the public schools, that is, to be prepared to function productively as civic participants capable and motivated to vote, competent to serve on juries and to develop skills for competitive employment.

Prerequisites include the opportunity to participate in art classes, career development and occupational studies; English language arts; health, physical education, family and consumer sciences; foreign languages; mathematics, science and technology and social studies; and faculty adequately trained to teach those subject areas.

Opinion | Depriving Orthodox Children Of Education Hurts Our Communities

Advocates for less defined, weaker standards for certain non-public schools oppose the requirement. If weaker standards prevail, this will demean the vibrancy and harmony of the East Ramapo community, as well as those throughout New York State.

East Ramapo is unique: Non-public school students outnumber public school students three to one. Public school students are predominantly children of color, whereas for all intents and purposes, the non-public schools advocating for weaker standards are comprised entirely by Jewish students.

Rather than focus only on differences, it may be helpful to identify areas of commonality, one of which is the value each community places on education.

Opinion | Depriving Orthodox Children Of Education Hurts Our Communities

In the interest of the community’s vitality and very survival, let us come together and embrace the opportunity to support the State’s vision for equivalent education standards and expectations for public and non-public schools. While we’ve come from different cultures and experiences, unless all children receive an education preparing them to be productive citizens in today’s world, we all stand to pay a price.

As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.”

Willie J. Trotman is the president of the Spring Valley NAACP. Oscar Cohen is the educational director of the Education Committee.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Depriving Orthodox Children Of Education Hurts Our Communities

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Depriving Orthodox Children Of Education Hurts Our Communities

Thank you!

This article has been sent!