Only two of 28 Orthodox Jewish day schools visited by the city are providing students with a secular education that's up to state standards, a four-year investigation found — and it will be three years before some of them are in compliance.
"Children who have entered high school right after we submitted this complaint have already left high school without receiving any secular education. So I am outraged that it has taken the city so long," education advocate Naftuli Moster said.
A complaint filed by yeshiva alumni in 2015 touched off the investigation. They said the Orthodox schools fail to provide required instruction in subjects like science and English.
"They've never heard of for instance, the Civil War, they've never learned the history of slavery in America," Moster, a yeshiva alum, said.
Critics accused the city of dragging its feet in the investigation to avoid angering the politically influential Orthodox community. In its 15 page report, the city Department of Education seemed to take pains in couching its findings, saying its visits to the Yeshivas found:
- Two schools meet secular education standards
- One is on the verge of meeting them
- Eight are "well developed in moving towards" the standards
- Twelve are "developing" in meeting the standards
- And five schools are "under-developed"
Mayor de Blasio talked about the investigation last week.
"A number of yeshivas have made real progress and have been very cooperative. A number of others are on the path to making progress. There’s a few we’re still concerned about for sure," he said.
At one high school, DOE saw no secular subjects being taught. The school scheduled the visit and claimed the instruction happened earlier in the day.
At another school, officials said they offered no secular classes, but that subjects like math were covered through Jewish studies.
"What struck me was the chutzpah from some of these yeshivas that didn't even make the effort," Moster said.
A yeshiva advocacy group, which is working to develop secular curricula for them, said yeshivas "outperform" public schools.
“The New York City yeshiva system is comprised of 275 independent schools. As with all school systems, yeshivas always strive to improve and adopt best practices. They will continue to do so," the advocacy group claimed.
The city is seeking a timeline from the schools detailing how they plan to meet the standards.