There are 57,000 children of ultra-orthodox Jews in state-funded yeshivas in New York. They are exempt from minimal education standards.
In April, state Senator Simcha Felder (D – Brooklyn) refused to sign off on the state budget unless yeshivas, which accept millions of dollars in government funding, were given more autonomy over curricula. Per a Post editorial, “Felder demanded [legislation] to exempt private yeshivas from state requirements to provide adequate education in basic areas such as English, math, science and history.”
The yeshivas are already black holes of miseducation, and this is going to make them even worse.
“[They] are being denied an education,” said Naftuli Moster, executive director of YAFFED, an organization that advocates to improve secular education in ultra-Orthodox yeshivas. “The main reason has to do with [yeshiva administrators] saying there’s no time to learn stuff [students] won’t use in life — especially boys, who are [expected] to be rabbis.”
Moster added that there are other issues at hand as well: “There are certain things in science and history that contradict portions of the Torah — fossils, dinosaurs.”
Also things like English and elementary arithmetic. According to the story, only about 5% of the boys who go through the yeshiva system become rabbis — and that’s about 5% too many — and the rest are just untrained and unprepared for anything practical or useful, which means that some of the most poverty-stricken areas of New York state are those inhabited by the ultra-Orthodox.
The article interviewed several adult products of the yeshiva system. They came out of it with a cultivated ignorance. The ones in the story, though, are men who scrabbled to make up their deficiencies and get somewhere in life, which makes one wonder about the majority, who never get out and perpetuate the same handicaps on their children.