The next mayor of New York City, current Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, will be tasked to handle the many education issues facing the city’s 1.7 million schoolchildren. Advocates for secular studies hope that Mayor Adams will enforce the state education guidelines across all the schools, despite what Candidate Adams may have had to promise to get elected.
Just under a million of the city's students attend public schools, while the rest attend either private, parochial, charter, or are homeschooled. Over 110,000 of the city’s schoolchildren attend private Jewish religious schools, some of which have been at the center of controversy for several years over the extent of secular education offered.
“This is a situation where schools are not teaching the basic subjects,” alleges Naftuli Moster, the Executive Director of Young Advocates for Fair Educations (Yaffed), which aims to get state officials to encourage secular education in yeshivas as required by Section 3204 of the New York Education Law. “Schools are not teaching science, they’re not teaching history. In some cases, they’re not even teaching English and math.”
In 2015, the city launched an investigation into the quality of education at yeshivas, after Yaffed sent a letter to the Department of Education (DOE) signed by 52 yeshiva parents and graduates, claiming the lack of secular education at 39 yeshivas. The investigation took four years and was delayed by 15 of the yeshivas denying inspectors entry into their schools and emails showing Mayor Bill de Blasio deliberately stalling the investigation.
By late 2019, a report revealed that of the 28 yeshivas that they did inspect, all of them in Brooklyn, just two were up to par on teaching their students secular subjects as per the New York State guidelines. Most were at the stage of developing secular curricula, while five were not teaching English or math to their students.