New state rules leave no doubt: New York law promising children in private and parochial schools a basic education is to be enforced, via regular inspections by local authorities. When schools fail to meet standards, they are to be sanctioned or shut down.
Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia may as well have been reciting the new guidelines into a megaphone inches from Mayor de Blasio’s ears, for he has largely ignored the spirit of the statute.
New York City is home to hundreds of yeshivas. Many of them offer solid secular and religious educations; some are exemplary. And some have long been failing to teach English, math, history and science, in flagrant violation of state law, leaving young people utterly ill-equipped for college or the workforce.
An advocacy group blew the cover off the scandal, forcing the city to launch a probe in 2015. Then feet dragged and dragged some more, with de Blasio and educrats who report to him sidestepping anything that might look like a confrontation with the community.
In April, state Sen. Simcha Felder used his leverage as a Democrat propping up majority Republicans to force into state law an odious amendment shielding yeshivas from proper oversight.
In August, under pressure, de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza finally released the findings. Turned out, there wasn’t much secular instruction happening in a number of schools. Some schools wouldn’t let authorities in at all — not that the city tried especially hard.
Elia steps into the breach: Inspections are to happen on a five-year cycle. If a school fails, they’ll get time to right the ship, but if they’re not trying or making progress, the state will yank transportation and textbook funding, then move to closure.