For 7 years now, Haredi students and graduates have waited for the State and City of New York to finally stand up and do its duty. That’s how long it has been since we at Yaffed, the organization representing these students, has submitted its first complaint regarding the quality of education at these schools. State law requires that all schools provide an adequate secular education at a minimum standard.
An investigation was ordered into this complaint, but due to the immense amount of power Haredi and Hasidic leaders have in New York City, the investigation has been “ongoing” ever since. In the meantime, students have continued to be taught dismally, with tens of thousands of students every year not even able to pass a standardized test.
It looks like the ongoing investigation now finally must end: The Commissioner of Education, Betty Rosa, told city officials that they have until the end of June to finish “detailed determinations/recommendations” of their investigation.
This is massive news for our movement: one of the main approaches taken by the state has been to request that the investigation be completed “as expeditiously as possible,” but without a hard deadline. That deadline marks the beginning steps of the city finally being required to provide an accounting of how the Haredi schools in New York are or are not failing their students.
For years, Hasidic and Haredi leaders have threatened, made deals, and pushed its influence with city and state officials. Despite the human rights disaster it has wrought, they have gotten away with it.
But thanks to outside pressure, both from Yaffed and recent New York Times investigations, things are finally changing.
The consequences of inaction have been massive: as the Times reported, “For many, the consequences of attending Hasidic schools can ripple across time. Students grow up and can barely support their own families. Some leave the community and end up addicted to drugs or alcohol. Others remain and feel they have little choice but to send their children to the schools.”
This is only a taste of the consequences of inaction. We are grateful that things are finally starting to change. Haredi students are depending on us.