Fix Your Public Schools Before You Come for Our Yeshivos

As the New York DOE attempts, once again, to enforce public school curriculum on yeshivos, Rabbi Chaim Rosenstein, the successful owner of a wealth management business, writes of the absurdity of their efforts.

As the New York Department of Education attempts, once again, to enforce public school curriculum on yeshivos, Rabbi Chaim Rosenstein, CFO of the Law Offices of Zev Goldstein P.L.L.C. in Monsey, NY, and owner of a wealth management business, writes of the absurdity and illogicality of their efforts.

Dear Reader,

It feels like just yesterday that I came to the defense of yeshivos in the face of the attacks by the DOE>

But, here we go again… To quote the famous adage coined by Winston Churchill “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” 

To those seeking the decree, apparently, you didn’t learn from history. 

The history of decrees targeting yeshivas spans throughout our history as Jews. At times it has been with threats of death and torture, while in more recent times (post-holocaust) it has been through the disguise of ‘protecting’ us from self-destruction. 

Historically our response has been consistent throughout the ages. Torah study and instruction are our way of life. Anyone that dares to suggest that they know better will fail as did their predecessors. We don’t need or want your help. 

What are you hoping to accomplish through these changes? 

  • Graduates of the yeshiva system have a far higher success rate at reading, writing, and math, but you know that already. 
  • Yeshiva graduates are taught critical thinking without the poison of CRT. 
  • Students who graduate from yeshiva are taught to think independently… 

Oh, wait! That’s it! That is what you seek to destroy. 

I don’t care which political, ethnic, race, creed, color, or religious affiliation you follow or belong to. You deserve the right to believe as you wish and so do I. Live, let live, and leave us alone! 

 Learning about the cultures and history of others is important so that we can treat others with sensitivity, dignity, and respect. Yeshiva teaches those virtues. Yeshiva teaches us to treat all of G-d’s creations from the largest human to the smallest of the inanimate with respect.

The suggestion that we alter our curriculum to conform with the public school system is blatant antisemitism. Additionally, it is quite insulting to religious schools of all faiths. 

The idea that the proposed curriculum holds even the slightest comparison to the quality of the current Yeshiva education is sheer lunacy. Many of the points and statistics that I wrote about and quoted in 2019, still ring true today. The DOE is still doing a terrible job at ensuring a quality education for public school children. 

I will remind you of some of the points that I mentioned in my letter of August 29th, 2019.

 “My main point is: I reject having a Government agency without any experience in running a yeshiva dictate our children’s educational requirements! The purpose of the Government is to serve the needs of the people, not infringe on our rights to make decisions. The Government has the right and obligation to step into schools in instances of abuse. Teaching a curriculum of Judaic studies does not constitute abuse.

New York parents have the right to choose how they wish to educate their children. A parent’s choice to have a full or partial day of Judaic studies for their children should remain the parent’s prerogative. If a parent wants their children to have an education dictated by the NY Board of Education, choose the free option: Public School.

My secondary point is:  

A public school education often does not prepare children for success in the workplace, does not teach children to innovate, and does not teach children the skills of critical and independent thinking.  

The following data was published on the NY DOE website:

The 2018 results for NYC students were:

Less than half “(46.7 percent) of NYC students are proficient in English Language Arts with NYC students continuing to outpace their NYS peers in 2018. 42.7 percent of NYC students are proficient in math, narrowing the gap with NYS in 2018.”

Are we supposed to be impressed by these numbers? I am not. 

If this is the outcome of what the public school system offers, are we supposed to use the public schools as a model for our children’s education? Does the NY DOE have statistics on Yeshiva graduates that reflect a higher or lower literacy rate than those that graduated or dropped out of public school?”

Success in the workplace is not necessarily dependent on the type of education provided. Success is achieved by using our G-d given talents, abilities, and strengths to pursue our passions. It is achieved by hard work blessed by G-d.

In addition to articulating my previous points, I wish to add that Yeshiva graduates, Private school graduates, and Public school graduates can each succeed or fail. Some people are blessed with higher intelligence while others are less intelligent. However, the vast majority of my Yeshiva classmates are Doctors, Nurses, Lawyers, Rabbis, Dentists, Accountants, Real Estate Developers, Financial Professionals, and Business Owners.

As we prepare to celebrate the holiday of Passover I should point out that we celebrate freedom from oppression and the birth of the Jewish people as a nation. Tyranny will never win. Today you can stand on the correct side of history by voicing your opinion in favor of freedom.

If you have yet done so, please go to Voice.pearlsny.org and submit a letter. If you have already signed, please ask your family and friends to do so as well. 

Wishing you all a kosher and happy Passover,

Rabbi Chaim Rosenstein

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