You’ve heard the rumors, read the articles in the newspapers and probably wondered: Could this be true? Is it possible that a religious sect would deprive its children of a modern education, including science and mathematics, in order to more strongly imbue its ancient religion?
NYCA’s February Brunch speaker says yes. He is Naftuli Moster, executive director of Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED), an advocacy group committed to getting Hasidic children a fair and equitable education that will help them survive in a modern world.
Sects Focus on Religious Education
An investigation in 2015 by the New York City Department of Education found “shockingly sub-standard education at the 39 Hasidic yeshivas in the city,” according to a report by City Council member Daniel Dromm, chairman of the City Council’s education committee.
“The schools have been accused of spending relatively little time on basic education in favor of religious studies–to the point that they have produced graduates who cannot read or write English or do basic math,” says Councilman Dromm.
New York state law requires private and parochial schools to provide instruction
that is “substantially equivalent” to what is offered in the public schools.
However, graduates of Hasidic yeshivas have told investigators that boys get just six hours of secular education a week. When they become 13, all secular education ends and they only attend religious instruction.
Broader Implications for Atheists
Our February Brunch speaker Moster says his group, YAFFED, believes that “every child is entitled to a fair and equitable education that is in compliance with the law.”
Impatient with the snails-pace of reform led by elected officials, YAFFED has produced its own 90-page report titled “Non-Equivalent: The State of Education in New York City’s Hasidic Yeshivas.” The group’s goal, Moster says, is to get the ultra-Orthodox world to “act responsibly in preparing their youth for economic sufficiency and for broad access to the resources of the modern world.”
For Atheists, this controversy goes beyond its New York locale. If the Hasidic Jews are required by law to bring modern education into their classrooms, what about Catholic parochial schools? What about the home-schooled children?
Is this case the precursor to the opening up of children’s education all over our nation? Is this, as one educator put it, “the beginning of the end of teaching fairy tales in school?”
Come on February 11th to hear this brave proponent for Hasidic children as you enjoy our Brunch buffet with friendly fellow non-believers.
The cost of this event is $25 which includes a wonderful all-you-can-eat brunch followed by our guest speaker.