State puts pressure on private schools, passes new rules requiring students receive ‘equivalent education’
The state Board of Regents voted unanimously Tuesday for new rules now requiring private schools to prove they’re giving students an education equivalent to students in public schools.
The vote follows years of shared concerns from parents and former yeshiva students who complained about the alleged lack of basic education in some private, ultra-Orthodox schools.
News 12’s spoke to Rockland activist Naftuli Moster about what this means for thousands of Hudson Valley students and what’s next.
“We are happy we’re making progress, but it should not have taken 10 years,” said Moster.
Moster is a former yeshiva student who founded the nonprofit group YAFFED.
The group is responsible for alerting the state to the plight of thousands of yeshiva students in New York City and the Hudson Valley who allegedly aren’t being taught math, English, science and social studies while receiving hours of daily, strict religious instruction.
On Tuesday, the state Board of Regents passed new rules requiring all private schools register and prove students are getting an education equivalent to public school - through testing, accreditation or district review.
If not, they’ll face losing public funding that a New York Times investigation found totaled $1 billion within the last four years.
The new rules build on existing state policy but have been met with criticism from religious leaders who say parents have the right to choose the type of education their students receive.
There’s also confusion about how they’ll be enforced. One possibility is to have local school districts oversee private schools, but that option is also drawing criticism from some, including Sen. James Skoufis.
Skoufis tweeted on Monday that it’ll be a strain on school districts and disrupt school boards. He believes the nearest BOCES or the state would be better suited.
The state hasn’t said yet how they plan on enforcing the rules, and Moster says he hopes whatever is decided will hold private educators accountable.
“We do hope immediately there will be efforts to close the loopholes, add layers of accountability and speed up any process to avoid further delays,” said Moster.
The New York Times report found the new rules will impact as many as 50,000 children in private schools.
A state spokesperson said the rules recognize diverse communities across the state, while providing multiple ways for private schools to demonstrate students receive a standard education.