Make Your Voice Heard Today!

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has finally released new proposed substantial equivalency regulations. The goal of these regulations is to hold nonpublic schools across the state accountable for providing its students with a basic secular education.

Once passed, these regulations will serve as a crucial mechanism to ensure that the tens of thousands of school children attending ultra-Orthodox yeshivas across New York are receiving the basic English, math, science, and social studies education to which they are entitled by state law.

The proposed regulations are now open to the public for comment. That means that we have a window of opportunity to provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of these necessary regulations.

This public comment period is critical: With the submission of our constructive comments, together we will demonstrate to NYSED the urgency of passing thorough and impenetrable substantial equivalency regulations to equip New York’s ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students to lead self-sufficient adult lives.

Following a thorough review of the public comments by NYSED, the regulations will be put to a vote by the Board of Regents. If the regulations are adopted, they will be enacted and implemented in nonpublic schools state-wide.

The process towards achieving the enforcement of substantial equivalency in New York’s ultra-Orthodox yeshivas has been riddled with delays and obstructions. But now, there is an end in sight. Together we can ensure that tens of thousands of children finally receive the education to which they have long been deserving. Take action today and be part of the change.

Submit your public comment now!

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! The New York State Education Department has just released proposed substantial equivalency enforcement regulations. We have been waiting for this update after years of NYSED’s stalling and inaction.

Back in November 2018, NYSED released substantial equivalency enforcement guidelines. However, a lawsuit by yeshiva leaders and their partners was filed on the grounds that the guidelines should have been issued as “regulations.” NYSED then released updated regulations in Summer 2019 which was followed by a period of public comment. With over 140,000 comments submitted, NYSED engaged stakeholders in November and December 2020 to determine next steps. The regulations just now proposed by NYSED, in March 2022, is the first concrete action taken since the November/December 2020 stakeholder engagement meetings to remedy the issue of educational neglect.

Regulations are official rules issued by the State of New York that hold the force of law and enable state and local government officials to enforce standards and hold private and public entities accountable.

These regulations will provide a set of standards through which it is possible to determine whether or not a school is providing its students with a sound, basic (substantially equivalent) education. Once enforced, the regulations will serve as the mechanism through which New York State and its agents can ensure that nonpublic schools are in compliance with State Education Law section 3204 which requires all nonpublic schools to provide a substantially equivalent education as the local school district.

An opportunity for you to provide direct feedback to NYSED about the education regulations they’ve proposed. Submitting a public comment is not a vote for or against adopting the regulations, but rather a comment about the content of the regulations. Upon the deadline of the public comment period, NYSED will review the comments and adapt the regulations based on the feedback received.

The regulations are a necessary step toward ensuring that every child in New York State is given a basic education in the core subjects of English, math, science, and social studies. Today, tens of thousands of children are attending nonpublic schools that refuse to provide this basic curriculum. We must make sure, through submitting public comments, that the regulations are strong and effective. It is imperative that we have intelligent, thoughtful people to support strong language and to point out deficiencies in NYSED’s proposal. Without public support, we fear that NYSED may cede to the opponents of basic education and leave tens of thousands of children to continue to endure the educational neglect that exists today.

Yes! The New York State Education Department has just released proposed substantial equivalency enforcement regulations. We have been waiting for this update after years of NYSED’s stalling and inaction.

If this feels like deja vu to you, that’s because… Back in November 2018, NYSED released substantial equivalency enforcement guidelines. However, a lawsuit by yeshiva leaders and their partners was filed on the grounds that the guidelines should have been issued as “regulations.” NYSED then released updated regulations in Summer 2019 which was followed by a period of public comment. With over 140,000 comments submitted, NYSED engaged stakeholders in November and December 2020 to determine next steps. The regulations just now proposed by NYSED, in March 2022, is the first concrete action taken since the November/December 2020 stakeholder engagement meetings to remedy the issue of educational neglect.

Regulations are official rules issued by the State of New York that hold the force of law. When a law is not written with enough specificity such that the enforcement mechanism is unclear, the state agency charged with its oversight will issue a regulation in order to clarify how the agency and its agents will enforce standards and hold private and public entities accountable. In order to be enacted, a proposed regulation must first go through a public comment period. Once enacted, any significant changes and revisions to the regulation must also go through additional public comment periods before.

These regulations will provide a set of standards through which it is possible to determine whether or not a school is providing its students with a sound, basic (substantially equivalent) education. Once enforced, the regulations will serve as the mechanism through which New York State and its agents can ensure that nonpublic schools are in compliance with State Education Law section 3204 which requires all nonpublic schools to provide a substantially equivalent education as the local school district.

NYSED’s proposed regulation will: 1) institute standards statewide by which substantial equivalency can be measured, 2) create an enforcement system that allows schools to choose one of multiple pathways to demonstrate compliance or have compliance determinations accomplished by LSA investigations.  3) create transparency and accountability by having local school districts report to the state how each nonpublic school in their district will demonstrate substantial equivalency on a regular basis and having LSA investigations be triggered at the direction of the Commissioner or by complaints filed with the Commissioner by “aggrieved parties” if a school is not complying with the law.

An opportunity for you to provide direct feedback to NYSED about the education regulations they’ve proposed. Submitting a public comment is not a vote for or against adopting the regulations, but rather a comment about the content of the regulations. Upon the deadline of the public comment period, NYSED will review the comments and adapt the regulations based on the feedback received.

The regulations are a necessary step toward ensuring that every child in New York State is given a basic education in the core subjects of English, math, science, and social studies. Today, tens of thousands of children are attending nonpublic schools that refuse to provide this basic curriculum. We must make sure, through submitting public comments, that the regulations are strong and effective. It is imperative that we have intelligent, thoughtful people to support strong language and to point out deficiencies in NYSED’s proposal. Without public support, we fear that NYSED may cede to the opponents of basic education and leave tens of thousands of children to continue to endure the educational neglect that exists today.

A previous version of the regulations required the local school district officials to conduct reviews of all non-public schools in their district every few years. The new regulations provide an exemption from such reviews if they demonstrate compliance through other means. They include: being accredited, being registered, or administering certain assessments to their students. Only schools that refuse to go through any of these pathways to demonstrate compliance will have to be reviewed by the local school district officials.

No, not at all. The law requires all schools to teach basic subjects like English, math, science, and social studies, and the regulations merely reiterate that law. How a school teaches those subjects is entirely up to the school. In fact, even public schools don’t teach the identical curriculum to one another, varying by teaching format, style, content, daily schedules, etc.

The regulations apply to all New York non-public schools, not solely ultra-Orthodox Yeshivas. The impetus for revising the regulations did begin when a credible complaint, submitted by Yaffed and dozens of Yeshiva graduates and parents, alleged that dozens of ultra-Orthodox Yeshivas failed to provide a basic education.

The ensuing investigation and stalling tactics from Yeshiva leaders exposed major holes in the current enforcement mechanism of “substantial equivalency,” leading state officials to realize that the regulations (which apply to all non-public schools) need to be tightened.

Like many of the claims emanating from ultra-Orthodox media outlets, which are managed by its leaders, this is inaccurate. Truancy laws have existed since the 1890s or earlier, and in 1894, the law made it clear that non-public schools must provide an education that is “at least substantially equivalent” to the education  provided in public schools. The law says that a school that doesn’t offer a basic education isn’t a school, and the children attending it are considered truant. The current regulations did not change this law.

No, public schools spend the entire day teaching what we consider to be secular education, such as English, math, science, social studies, music, art, physical education, and more. Yeshivas, on the other hand, are not asked to spend this amount of time on these subjects.. Instead, they are allowed to spend many hours on religious studies, as long as they also provide a minimum baseline of secular instruction. Previously,the state said that approximately 3.5 hours of secular education a day would meet this requirement.

This is misinformation spread by Yeshiva leaders. It’s important to distinguish between the two types of “failures” intentionally conflated by Yeshiva leaders. There are indeed plenty of public schools that “fail” in terms of student performance and outcomes. But every single public school in New York teaches all of the required subjects. What we are talking about here are Yeshivas that simply don’t teach any science or social studies, and in some cases not even English and math. That is a whole different level of failure that essentially means the school isn’t even meeting the minimum definition of a “school,” and should therefore either be compelled to comply or  close down.

New York State law applies to all residents and all religions, and even if it were a genuine claim, the schools would have to comply with the law because it is for the benefit of the children and for the state.

In reality, it’s completely untrue to claim that religion prohibits Yeshivas from providing secular instruction. Indeed, there are a few Yeshivas that do provide a full secular education. And even within Hasidic sects where boys are not given an education, girls tend to receive 3+ hours of secular education a day in their schools.

Many of the Yeshivas that currently don’t provide secular education once did provide more secular education. It is because the government blatantly ignored the issue that they slowly cut corners and chipped away at the secular studies they used to provide.

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