NEW YORK – Brooklyn’s haredi community is vastly underperforming the educational
standards set by New York State and federal law for its 84,000 students,
according to an investigative report conducted by the DNAinfo.com local news
This would make it one of the largest parochial communities in the
United States with inadequate instruction from its teachers and lackluster
oversight from its local governing authorities.
The New York-based
website spoke to over 30 students, parents, teachers and government officials on
the record for the three-part series published this week.
New York State
law since the 1980s requires that core subjects – from American history to math,
writing and English comprehension – be taught to all students between ages 6 and
16 to the standards of the state’s authorities in order “to see that children
are not left in ignorance,” according to the state.
But Sonja Sharp, a
producer and reporter for DNAinfo, found that male students were learning almost
exclusively in Yiddish and couldn’t communicate in English or understand basic
math by the time they turned 18.
“In many cases, you’re talking about
students who are 18 and lack the ability to communicate in English,” said
“They can’t text, they can’t read a food menu, and they can’t
apply for jobs. So they say they have no choices – that the options don’t exist.
And because they can’t get a job, they can’t support their families.”
widely read demographic report on New York’s Jewish population released by
UJA-Federation of New York last year noted an increase in the rate of poverty
among ultra- Orthodox communities across the state, correlating to this
educational trend. The number of haredim in parochial schools has increased 12
percent since 2008.
Girls in the community are more likely to learn these
skills, as they aren’t obligated to devote their time to Talmud study. But the
report charges that these women rarely get the chance to execute these skills,
as tradition often keeps them out of the workforce.
Sharp noted that
there are some schools that prove the exception to this rule. But she heard the
same story “over and over again,” she said.