by Sandy Fitzgerald in Newsmax
Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, on Wednesday rejected a New York Times report claiming that New York City’s private Orthodox Jewish Schools are depriving their students of basic education while accepting $1 billion in public money, telling Newsmax that time spent in religious studies also gives students a strong educational foundation.
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“The woke New York Times is out with another classic attack on religious values and religious education, this time targeting the Jewish community for doing Jewish education the way we have always done,” Menken said on Newsmax’s “Wake Up America.”
The Times reported Sunday that even though the schools accept public funding, they remain unaccountable to outside oversight.
The article’s writers, after a year of research including interviews with almost 300 people, translations of Yiddish-language documents, and the analysis of data on the Hasidic Jewish community’s school, reported the institutions are “failing by design.”
The schools focus on education in Jewish law, tradition, and prayer, conducting hours of Yiddish-language religious lessons but offer few lessons in traditional subjects like math or English and almost no lessons in science and history, failing mostly in the 100 schools for boys.
However, The Times reported that the boys’ schools have collected more than $1 billion in government money over the past four years.
“There’s a huge variety in the Jewish community with regards to how much time is spent on secular studies and how much time is spent on religious studies,” Menken acknowledged. “But those religious studies give children backgrounds in economics and law and damages, which you simply don’t find in other school systems. So the idea that these kids are not getting educated, that the people of the book are not actually interested in educating their kids, is extremely offensive.”
He added that “for the long hand of government” to claim it knows better than parents about how to educate children in public and private schools “shows what’s really going on here.”
Menken admitted that students in the private schools are not learning “nearly as much” in science or history as he did growing up, and in English and math, “what we learned is very different,” but still, the lessons in the Jewish schools go back through “thousands of years of history, to talk about in our own way.”
The Times reported that there have been some reviews of the schools ordered by past mayors and on the state level, but they have been affected by politics. Menken told Newsmax that he does not think that any review that comes from outside the orthodox community would be “especially helpful.”
“These are people who are experts in education who demand full literacy from their society when most other societies reserved education for the elite class,” said Menken. “We are very much interested and invested. You see parents learning together with their children as a standard part of community behavior, which, even to this day is not typical … I certainly, growing up outside this community, did not experience the kind of learning that I did with my own kids as they were growing up, and that happens all across our community.”
New York City invests approximately $28,000 a year per child to educate them, Menken added, calling that “a ridiculous sum of money and not working.”
Originally published in Newsmax