Leaders of Catholic and Jewish private schools in New York have announced that they won't comply with a new directive designed to ensure that sectarian schools are offering an appropriate education to youngsters.
The New York State Education Department late last year promulgated guidelines that aim to enforce a state law mandating that New York private schools offer an education that is "substantially equivalent" to public schools. This has been interpreted to mean that religious schools must offer adequate instruction in secular subjects. To ensure that this is taking place, the plan calls for public school officials to inspect the parochial schools. Increasingly, officials at the religious schools are saying they won't cooperate.
"The parents who choose our schools can have great confidence in the academic rigor of our schools," James Cultrara, executive secretary of the state Council of Catholic School Superintendents, told the Albany Times-Union. "We simply cannot accept a competing school having authority over whether our schools can operate."
In December, Catholic school officials wrote to Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, declaring that they won't accept oversight.
"We write to inform you that the New York State Council of Catholic School Superintendents, representing some 500 Catholic schools, rejects the recently released 'substantial equivalency' guidelines and is directing all diocesan Catholic schools not to participate in any review carried out by local public school officials," they wrote.
The flap over private religious education in New York goes back to 2015, when news outlets began looking into the quality of education offered in some of the state's Jewish schools. It came to light that yeshivas run by some ultra-Orthodox groups were spending just about all their class time on studying the...