The New York affiliate of the ACLU, stoked outrage and debate this week after suggesting that funding for yeshiva schools is taking money away from students of color in public schools, based on an extensive New York Times report.
“For years, district leaders in East Ramapo have extracted resources from public schools, which are almost entirely attended by students of color, in order to lavishly fund yeshivas attended by white students,” the NYCLU tweeted Monday, with a link to a New York Times report.
“State leaders often claim their commitment to an equitable, high-quality education,” the group said in a follow-up tweet. “But if they mean it, they have to do more. ALL students deserve access to a basic education free from violence and discrimination.”
“New York’s Hasidic Jewish religious schools have benefited from $1 billion in government funding in the last four years but are unaccountable to outside oversight,” the Times report headlined, “In Hasidic Enclaves, Failing Private Schools Flush With Public Money,” stated.
“The Hasidic Jewish community has long operated one of New York’s largest private schools on its own terms, resisting any outside scrutiny of how its students are faring,” the Times reported.
Hasidic boys’ schools, in particular, are “failing by design” and leaving thousands of students unprepared for the outside world despite big chunks of government funding, the report read. Despite Hasidic boys’ yeshivas receiving less per pupil than public schools, and charging tuition, they “appear to get more government funding on average than other private schools in the state, including other religious schools,” the analysis found. And the money, the New York Times said, “is flowing as New York City is cutting public school budgets.”
“The city voucher program that helps low-income families pay for child care now sends nearly a third of its total assistance to Hasidic neighborhoods, even while tens of thousands of people have languished on waiting lists,” according to the report. “The program provides more than $50 million a year to Hasidic boys’ schools that claim the end of their regular school day as child care, records show.”
“Delete your account,” Corey DeAngelis, National Director of Research at the American Federation for Children, tweeted at the NYCLU.
Some critics called the NYCLU tweet and the corresponding New York Times article anti-Semitic.
“Of all the antisemitic crap out there, I’ve never seen anyone accuse Jews of failing to educate their children. This piece is disgracefully false and defamatory shame on the @nytimes for breeding such bigotry,” civil rights lawyer Brooke Goldstein tweeted.
Other readers suggested the Times had a bias toward progressive education.
“This is a transparent attempt to whip up hatred and resentment against a minority community that the NYT cannot tempt to swallow its progressive priorities,” journalist and author Abigail Shrier charged.
The New York Times defended its reporting in a statement to Fox News Digital.
“Our reporters spent months seeking to help readers understand what is happening inside some of New York’s lowest performing schools,” a spokesperson said. “They spoke to more than 275 people, including current and former students, teachers, administrators and regulators to explain the inner workings of these Hasidic Jewish religious schools, which receive substantial amounts of public money. The resulting article speaks for itself, and we stand behind it.”
The NYCLU did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.
Some critics noted that the report was published as New York City has recently been home to several apparent hate crimes in the Jewish community.
“With #Antisemitism in NY at an all time high, the @NYCLU decided that this would be a good time to accuse the *lavishly funded* white Jews of *extracting resources* from poor students of color,” Joel M. Petlin, superintendent of New York’s Kiryas Joel School District, tweeted. “They’ve gone from protecting civil rights to starting a race war against the Jews.”
New York City has seen a string of anti-Semitic attacks in recent months. In August, two weeks after a Jewish man was assaulted by a man on a subway who told him he would shoot him if he had a gun, a Jewish woman was choked on the subway.
The New York City Police Department told Fox News Digital in August that it is investigating a “hate crime assault pattern” in a Brooklyn neighborhood that is home to a large Jewish community, in which victims have been punched, slapped and sprayed with powder from fire extinguishers.
Others praised the New York Times for spotlighting a long-documented issue surrounding educational standards in the Hasidic community.
Democratic New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who represents a large portion of Hasidic communities in Brooklyn, said he was “deeply saddened and disturbed” by the findings of the Times report and called for a “rigorous inquiry” to ensure “that the health and well-being of all children is protected.”
“I am proud to have received a great yeshiva education that taught me both the intricacies of the Jewish religion and prepared me with the secular skills needed to succeed in life,” Nadler said in a statement. “I also chose to send my son to a Jewish day school where he too got an excellent education. But as the Times investigation highlights, the positive experience I had in the orthodox yeshiva system is not the experience of many in the hasidic yeshiva system today.”
“It’s not enough that *your* Jewish education included basic numeracy and literacy without physical punishment—all Jewish education needs to include this,” New York-based rabbi and podcast host David Bashevkin wrote on Twitter. “Every single school. I hope we’re all working together to ensure that’s the case.”
“Every child in New York State has the constitutional right to a sound basic education,” Manhattan State Senator Liz Kreuger wrote on Twitter. “The city and state must enforce our laws to ensure that right is upheld.”
Following the release of the Times investigation, the New York Board of Regents announced that New York private schools – including Hasidic yeshivas – must prove they are teaching subjects such as English, math, science, and history to make sure their education is equivalent to that of its public schools. Schools that refuse to comply could lose government funding, the board said.