Probe of some NYC Jewish schools says few currently at goal

NEW YORK (AP) — A city Department of Education probe of more than two dozen ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools found only a couple that currently provided education meeting state standards in secular subjects.

The results of the multi-year investigation were released Thursday, a day after two watchdogs agencies looking into delays in the probe said New York City officials engaged in "political horse trading” over it but that no laws were broken.

The probe report said of the 28 private yeshivas that city officials visited since 2015, two met state standards in providing an education that is “substantially equivalent" to a public school, as is required by state law. Of the other schools, some were closer than others in getting to that point, while a handful were far off, the report said.

Critics of the yeshivas say many students barely learn to read or write in English and never learn basic scientific concepts or historical facts. Classes are mainly taught in Yiddish.


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In the watchdog report released Wednesday, investigators with the city's Department of Investigation and the office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation found that representatives for Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, agreed in 2017 to delay an interim report on the yeshivas in return for certain lawmakers' support for extending mayoral control of the schools.

But the investigation found that the agreement had no substantial effect on the progress of the inquiry, which was "mired in delays for several years because of a variety of factors.”

Those factors included disputes over scheduling investigators' visits to the yeshivas and the city's “collaborative approach” to those disputes, the investigators said.

Mayoral control of New York City's 1.1 million-pupil public school system, first won by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2002, has come up for renewal by the state legislature several times since then and has at times been used by lawmakers as a bargaining chip.

It's estimated that there are about 115,000 children in the roughly 275 yeshivas in New York, many of which have a full secular curriculum.