Private And Religious Schools That Do Not Provide ‘Substantially Equivalent’ Education To New York’s Public Schools Could Lose State Funding

Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) changed its guidelines on Tuesday where private school that do not have “substantially equivalent” education programs to public schools could lose state funding.

“Substantial equivalency means that a program is comparable in content and educational experience, but it may differ in method of delivery and format,” NYSED said in a press release Tuesday.

Non-public middle schools would need to give 72 minutes of math instruction per day, according to The Associated Press. Schools will also need to provide sample lesson plans in the areas of English, math, science and social studies.

Other rules include “instruction in patriotism and citizenship” for children over 8 years old, “instruction in the history, meaning, significance, and effect of the provisions of the Constitution of the United States and the amendments thereto, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the State of New York and the amendments thereto” for those in eighth grade and above, and those in senior high schools will be taught “hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automated external defibrillator,” according to NYSED’s Nonpublic School Self-Study Toolkit.

Staff members from local school districts will also be required to visit the non-public schools and determine whether they are in compliance with the education policies, The Associated Press reported.

A school building. SHUTTERSTOCK/ Josef Hanus

Pictured is a school building. SHUTTERSTOCK/ Josef Hanus

The first round of reviews will occur during the 2018-2019 school year and all reviews should be finished by Dec. 15, 2021, according to NYSED’s statement. School districts would need to revisit schools in their districts every five years after the initial review. (RELATED: Arizona Voters Reject Expansion Of State-Funded Program That Lets Students Attend Private School)

Schools not following the guidelines will be given some time to comply with state law. Government funding for textbooks and transportation could be taken away if the schools are still not in compliance, according to the AP.

The updated guidelines could affect Orthodox Jewish schools, known as yeshivas. Yeshivas have been criticized for not providing ample instruction in subjects like English and math, the AP reported. About 115,000 children attend yeshivas in the state.

“Any attempt to impose uniformity on the almost 1,800 nonpublic schools in New York state, however well-intentioned, is only going to succeed if it appropriately accounts for the uniqueness of our schools and our educational system,” pro-yeshiva group Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools said, the AP reported.

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