It’s budget season here in New York City. Budget hearings are underway, where the city council and the public will scrutinize each area of Mayor Adams’ administration’s proposed budget for next year (July 2023-June 2024). Yaffed’s analysis of the proposed budget immediately indicated that this budget reveals no plan for support and turnaround of the Hasidic yeshivas that require it this year, both as a moral imperative, and as required by law. We knew that this administration would be making cuts across the NYC Department of Education, which has angered public school advocates across the city. The mayor’s plan calls for spending approximately $30.7 billion on the Department of Education in Fiscal Year 2024, a decrease of half a billion dollars from the $31.2 the city is estimated to spend on the education department this fiscal year.
One DOE office is responsible for oversight and support of the city’s nonpublic schools, and this office is also facing a cut – The Office of Nonpublic Schools. Advocates of increased oversight in nonpublic schools should be furious that this administration is stalling when they should be preparing for the massive turn-around work ahead.
Historically, the work of the Office of Nonpublic Schools has not been pedagogical: that is, they were not responsible for academic support or oversight, but rather on connecting the city’s nonpublic schools to resources from the state and federal government. In September 2022, the NY State Board of Regents passed new regulations governing nonpublic schools. Both the city and the state are aware that it is likely hundreds of nonpublic schools – overwhelmingly Hasidic yeshivas – which are currently not providing an education that meets the state’s definition of “substantially equivalent”.
This calendar year the NYC Department of Education will need to catalog these schools and report their data to the state. Then, they will need to conduct oversight visits and make recommendations for remediation.
The Mayor’s budget calls for cutting $134,424 from the Office of Nonpublic Schools, leaving what looks like two administrative staff and a part-time or low-level pedagogue (teacher or curriculum specialist).
What Is Our Ask?
There is no way that the city can do increased work with decreased staff. If the Adams administration has any intention of doing what the state now requires to support nonpublic schools, he will not only cancel this cut, but further add capacity to the office.
Hasidic children’s lives are at stake; we believe 50,000 students are attending yeshivas in NYC right now that barely teach them a basic education outside of Judaic studies. This is more students than are enrolled in either Buffalo or Boston’s public school districts yet the mayor and his Department of Education are doing virtually nothing to improve education for this growing sector of students. Instead, they are dragging their feet, and this will have dire consequences.
What Can You Do?
Make your voice heard! Join the chorus of those demanding a budget that reflects the work ahead for the city. Take less than two minutes to send our draft testimony, or feel free to submit testimony in your own words. If you’re a parent, former student, or relevant professional interested in giving live testimony, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.