Education is a civil right guaranteed by the NY State Constitution. For too long the Commissioner of Education has delayed action to protect this right for non-public school children. She was scheduled to release the new guidelines in 2017, but delayed it until after the 2018 budget vote. This enabled Simcha Felder to change the law before the new guidelines were released, causing NYSED to delay again until October. However, in a recent interview, the Commissioner said it is expected in November. If you can see a pattern here, you understand that it’s time for us to speak up about these delays.
The following petition is addressed to Commissioner Elia and will also be shared with Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa and several legislators.
Dear Commissioner Elia,
We are very disappointed to hear that you have, yet again, delayed releasing and implementing new guidelines for educational equivalency in non-public schools.
There are credible allegations that tens of thousands of children are suffering from educational neglect in yeshivas across New York. The Chancellor of NYC schools has documented that many non-public schools are not providing educational equivalency while many others are not cooperating with efforts to determine equivalency.
According to NYSED and OCFS policy: “The most important aspect of preventing potential harm of educational neglect is early intervention. The reporting of educational neglect at the time of the initial identification of potential harm is critical to... ensure satisfactory completion of the child’s grade level and successful school experience.”
In other words, when dealing with issues of potential educational neglect, delay is not an option.
NYSED’s history of failure to hold school districts accountable regarding educational equivalency has hindered “early intervention”, which is the most important aspect of preventing educational neglect.
NYSED’s delay of the release of new guidelines ensures that there will be no “satisfactory completion of the child’s grade level and successful school experience.” There have already been too many children whose lives have been irreversibly damaged due to years of inaction. Children who become young adults that are unprepared for the workplace, unprepared for their civic duties, and starting life with an unnecessary impediment.
We call on you to release the new guidelines no later than October 23rd, as you promised publicly on August 23rd. We anticipate that those new guidelines, applying to all non-public schools including yeshivas, will include high standards, strict enforcement mechanisms, and strong accountability measures. Only then can we be sure all children, including those attending insular yeshivas, will receive a sound basic education.
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