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Monday, September 21, 2015 

Haredi schools like New Square's keep their subjects in ignorance

Former New Square resident Shulem Deen wrote for the Jewish Week about how those enclaves aren't even teaching their subjects proper English, ensuring they'll be unable to function in a wider world:
My two sons, ages 13 and 15, were both born and raised within the U.S. Neither of them can speak, read or write English.

My sons live in the insular, Yiddish-speaking chasidic world, and their schools provide them with no general studies education. From early morning until late in the evening they are occupied with one thing only: Torah study.

During three of their elementary school years, my sons had occasional after-school “English” classes during which they learned the English alphabet, how to read single-syllable words, like cat and bag, and elementary arithmetic — addition and subtraction, mostly. Now, past bar mitzvah age, that too is over.

I have not seen my sons in years — they have become alienated from me after my own choice to leave the chasidic world — but I miss them dearly, and worry about them often. I can do little to help further their education, though.

According to a report in this newspaper last week, chasidic schools receive millions of dollars in government funds and are required by state law to teach a curriculum that is at least “substantially equivalent” to what public schools offer. According to the report, however, chasidic boys’ schools, or yeshivas, usually teach only the very basics of English and math, and in some cases, not even that.

Science, literature, art and most other subjects in the state’s mandated educational curricula are almost unheard of.

Is there any hope for change?
Only if the education department follows through convincingly on the investigation they'll purportedly run. For now, to think that the government willingly gives them welfare despite their refusal to work for self-support! And the worst part is, what if these are conservative politicians who've given them the funding? I don't know, but for now, one thing is clear: the government should stop funding them and make clear they have to work for a living, maybe even serve in the army. But Democrats are unlikely to do that, and Republicans might not do it either.

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  • I'm Avi Green
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