Dear all members of the Dallas Jewish Community:
We are coming to you with an urgent request.
The NYS Education Department recently released new, proposed Substantial Equivalency Regulations for nonpublic schools. These regulations, which have been submitted to the Board of Regents for approval, can present a serious challenge to the ability of yeshivos to be מחנך our children according to our מסורה.
Please make your voice heard to help save yeshivos!
BUT I DON’T LIVE IN NEW YORK?
- If you or your children went to yeshiva in New York State, you are a stakeholder! Write a letter extolling the success of your yeshiva education.
- Other states are watching. If these regulations are implemented in New York, other states may follow suit.
- The issue of educational freedom is very close to our hearts. This is an issue that all non-public school parents should be passionate about.
- We must stand with and support the acheinu bnei Yisroel in the largest community in North America. They, and the state are looking to see how yidden across the country respond to this.
Will that help? Im yirtzeh Hashem, yes! The last draft of the regulations received an unprecedented 140,000 comments, with the overwhelming majority in opposition. This resulted in an over 2-year deferral of the regulations, forced NYSED and the Board of Regents to seriously engage with the community in a variety of public and private meetings, and resulted in several positive changes to the regulations. However, the dangers to our Yeshiva community remain severe, and we cannot remain silent. We MUST do it again!
Who else can help? In addition to your own letters, please encourage your spouse, children and relatives to submit separate letters! Their voices are critical to the success of this campaign.
How do I make my voice heard?
- Go to agudah.org
- send an email to email@example.com – we will submit it for you, or
- comments can be texted by texting START to 888.595.1529, or
- Call our automated comment line at 845-502-7000, or
- Mail to: Submission, Agudath Israel of America, 42 Broadway 14th floor, New York, NY, 10004
What should I write? It is most effective if you submit your own, original letter. Please include some of the points below in your letter. There are form letters available on voice.agudah.org if you don’t feel comfortable writing your own letter. Please be sure to include your full name, address, and email address in any communications.
We have until the end of May to express our objections to these regulations! This is our LAST CHANCE before the Board of Regents votes on it in September and the regulations go into effect.
Please send a letter through the portal at voice.agudah.org and encourage your friends and family to join as well!
Suggested Talking Points:
- We choose to send our children to schools whose mission is in line with our values. We do so despite the great sacrifice of carrying the double burden of supporting the public schools with property taxes and supporting the nonpublic schools through tuition and philanthropy.
- While the local school districts may do a wonderful job educating the public-school children, they are woefully unequipped to properly evaluate a yeshiva, both in terms of their available resources and their lack of familiarity with the instructional program of yeshivas.
- Intensive religious studies occupy a significant portion of the day. These contain rigorous academic and instructional content that informs and educates our students, and prepares them for success in life, further education, a meaningful occupation, and civic engagement. This is demonstrated by the dozens of thriving communities of Yeshiva graduates, containing tens of thousands of families, which are vibrant engines of economic activity. The many graduates engaged in communal affairs and the high level of voting participation demonstrates civic engagement. And of course, it goes without saying that many graduates go on to higher education.
- Section 130.10 (d) of the proposed regulations states: “Reviews shall be informed by, and respectful of, the cultural and religious beliefs and educational philosophy that may drive the curriculum in nonpublic schools and be integrated with academic content in the delivery of instruction.” While we appreciate the respect for cultural and religious beliefs, this falls far short of acknowledging the religious and educational value of those studies.
- In addition to the standard subjects of English, Math, Social Studies, Science and Phys Ed, these regulations add ancillary subjects that may detract from the primary mission of the yeshiva.
- Typically, to file a legal appeal from an adverse ruling, one must be an actual party to the proceeding. However, the regulations (130.12) allow “Persons considering themselves aggrieved by an LSA’s substantial equivalency determination” to file an appeal. This opens the door for any malcontent or dissatisfied dropout to file an appeal, wasting the precious time and resources of the school, NYSED, and the local school district.
- These regulations undermine our religious rights to educate our children in our religious beliefs. These regulations open the door for NYSED to impose curricular requirements that are antithetical to our values and way of life. No other state intrudes into nonpublic school education to this extent, threatening parental autonomy. This will focus time and resources away and impact their ability to accomplish their mission of educating their students.
- These regulations impose a substantial regulatory burden on nonpublic schools and the local school districts.
- When a public school is underperforming, it is given additional resources, not threatened with losing funding, forced closure, and the parents instructed to transfer their children to other schools.
ABOUT THIS CAMPAIGN
If you are concerned that these regulations pose a challenge, in a way not seen in the United States, to the autonomy of parents to be mechanech their children
If you are okay with all these mandates today, but are concerned about what may be required tomorrow, once government has this control of Yeshivos
Ensure that your spouse, children, friends, and relatives comment as well! An original, respectful letter is best, but form letters are also helpful. Comments can also be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, Include your full name, address, and email address in any communication.
Internet access not required. Text START to 888.595.1529.
YOUR OPINION MATTERS
Let’s remember that members of the Board of Regents are appointed by YOUR representatives in the New York State legislature. Their work is supposed to reflect the will of the people, and as a citizen of the State of New York, and as a concerned stakeholder, YOU have a right and obligation to make your voice heard.
The last proposed regulations generated 140,000 comments, nearly all in opposition. This resulted in a deferral of the regulations for years, and several positive changes to the regulations. However, the danger to Yeshivos remains. So, whether you are a yeshiva parent, student, graduate, educator, or community member.