Mental Health Professionals Oppose New Proposed Regulations

Close to 250 of the Jewish community’s mental health professionals think the NYSED’s proposed guidelines are an ongoing threat to the chinuch of our children. A petition outlining their concerns has been sent to the New York State Board of Regents.

The letter, is dated on Monday and has the signatures of Jewish psychologists, social workers and therapists. They wrote that they were educated in yeshivas and decried the misinformation by a few former students.

August 5, 2019

Ms. Christina Coughlin

NY Education Department, SORTS

89 Washington Avenue, Room 1075 EBA Albany, NY 12234seregcomments@nysed.gov

Dear Ms. Coughlin and the Honorable Members of the Board of Regents:

COMMENTS IN OPPOSITION TO PROPOSED RULE ID# EDU-27-19-00010-P

We, the undersigned men and women, are mental health professionals: we serve as licensed psychologists, social workers, and mental health counselors and therapists. We are also graduates of yeshiva elementary and high schools who believe that the skills, insights, values, and knowledge imparted to us in those schools have served as well in our subsequent academic and professional careers.

On the basis of our personal and professional experience, we consider the current proposals by the New York State Education Department to restructure and closely regulate yeshiva education ill-advised. These efforts, while perhaps well-intentioned, are in fact based on a defamatory campaign of misinformation against the yeshiva community. Yeshiva education has been extensively caricatured in various media as having little academic, economic, or social value.

In fact, the opposite is true. Different does not necessarily mean inferior.

We implore you to consider our collective experience and the actual attainments of yeshiva graduates. Our schooling provided us with the knowledge and tools to succeed academically in college, graduate school, and (in some cases) doctoral-level training. Accomplishments such as these refute misguided claims that yeshivas provide inadequate academic preparation for professional success. Furthermore, yeshiva education excels in providing many soft skills that have directly contributed to our current professional success. These include, but are not limited to, personal discipline and diligence in study habits, high valuation of the pursuit of knowledge, and a desire to strive for academic excellence. Yeshiva education provides a particularly meaningful background for our chosen field due to its focus upon the complexity, diversity, and subtlety of the human condition.

As practicing mental health professionals who are educated in and compliant with mandated reporting laws and possess extensive familiarity with children and adults in the yeshiva community, we reject the outrageous claim that parents who place their children in yeshiva are neglectful. We decry the poor methodology of studies that have shown yeshiva education to lead to negative outcomes; they do not meet the standards of validity or peer review demanded by our professions and should certainly not be relied upon by policymakers.

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