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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Carmen Farina Speaks at the New York Law School Breakfast August 25, 2017

Once a month, New York Law School holds a free breakfast at the school (185 West Broadway). It is no surprise that the large room the breakfast is held in, on the second floor, is always full. I imagine there are people other than me who go to not so much to hear what the speaker says, as to hear what the speaker does not say, or wont speak to.

I certainly did not get to 185 West Broadway a little past 8:00 AM on August 25 2017 to hear what Carmen Farina, the speaker, had to say. Her prepared remarks are boring and, well, prepared. Fake news. Public relations, supposedly "good" (as in "politically correct") news fit to print. Nothing meaningful.

Although Carmen did make one good point, and that is that the Department of Education is now using therapy dogs in elementary schools and the program is being expanded this year due to it's success last year. This IS news, because when I was a parent at PS 6 and Carmen was principal, I got her approval to set up a lunchclub every monday for 4th and 5th graders who wanted to find out about charitable organizations in the New York City area who helped people improve their lives. One of the groups I wanted to bring in was a pet therapy program with dogs. Carmen told me "Absolutely NOT...some child will be allergic, and then we will be in trouble".

I'm glad that Carmen changed her mind because I have done pet therapy, and it really works.

But the really interesting part of the breakfast occurred during the question and answer period, when an orthodox education advocate, Naftuli Moster, asked Carmen why she never responded to the request to review the lack of core subjects in yeshiva curriculum, Carmen said "no comment." Ross Sandler, standing next to her, advised the young man that she was not going any further. He took the next question, signaling the end to the young man's participation in the event. Of Course I, like many, wanted to know what was going on.  The NY POST published an article, see below, followed by an update on the issue.

A few questions later, an African American man stood up and said he was having problems with his twins. Carmen directed him to speak with an assistant of hers in the audience. Quite a different approach than what she did with the orthodox young man.

Carmen, you can - no you MUST - do better.

Betsy Combier
Editor, Advocatz
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

De Blasio, Fariña still won’t force yeshivas to obey the law and teach
NYC Chancellor Carmen farina
Post Editorial Board

It’s now been fully two years since the city Department of Education said it was launching an investigation into allegations that students in ultra-Orthodox yeshivas aren’t being taught even basic classes in English, math and science.

Yet there’s no sign that the promised report into these disturbing charges is anywhere close to done — or even that the city is undertaking a serious investigation.
But don’t ask Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña: She doesn’t want to talk about it.
At a New York Law School breakfast Friday, an Orthodox education activist asked her about the matter.
Her response: “No comment.”
Pressed to answer, she replied, “This is a very complicated issue,” before her host cut off the questioner with a terse, “Thank you for your comment. Let’s move on.”
As it happens, there are complicated issues involved, like religious freedom. But we doubt that’s what Fariña meant.
No, the real complication here is that we’re in the middle of an election year.
It’s been five months since Fariña and Mayor de Blasio flatly denied The Post’s report that they were dragging out the investigation for political reasons. But they refused to say when it would be completed.
The activists, many of whom themselves received a yeshiva education, contend that ultra-Orthodox schools in Brooklyn and Queens provide only six hours a week of English and math instruction to boys ages 7 to 13, and no science or history at all.
After 13, even the English and math classes stop completely, leaving students lacking basic skills and unprepared for the workforce.
State law is perfectly clear on this: Parochial schools must provide instruction “at least substantially equivalent” to that in public schools. And de Blasio has said he has “zero tolerance” for any violations.
It’s time he and Fariña proved it — before the election. That’s not too complicated.

The city has blown its deadline for completing a politically explosive investigation into whether yeshivas are breaking the law by cutting out secular studies in favor of religious instruction. And NY1 Education Report Lindsey Christ reports, the city still cannot say when it will be finished.

It's been two years since the de Blasio administration said it was investigating religious schools serving tens of thousands of ultra-orthodox Jewish children.

The probe began after activist Naftuli Moster filed a complaint alleging that his yeshiva education left him wholly uneducated and unequipped to make a living.

"Boys ages 13 and up receive no secular education at all. So they attend yeshiva for as many as 14 hours a day, from 6:30 AM to 8:30 PM often, and they get zero secular studies," said Moster of Young Advocates for a Fair Education. "No English, no math, forget about science or social studies, which they don't even get in elementary school."

State law requires private schools to provide an education substantially equal to a public education, but the city and state have long taken a hands-off approach toward the yeshivas, despite providing them tens of millions of dollars in aid.

15 months ago, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña told the City Council that it could expect a report on the investigation in a month.

But it still hasn't been issued, and she would not answer Moster's questions Friday about when it might be completed:

Moster: You've been informed about this more than two years ago, you said you were investigating. Last year, you said you were going to produce a report, and it has yet to come out.

Fariña: OK.

Moster: I think it's important to get a response. I think it's been long enough.

Fariña: The response is: No comment.

Moster: It's been way too long and it's not fair for tens of thousands of Hasidic children.

Fariña: This is a very complicated problem.

Moster: It's not complicated. You've solved so many other problems during this time. It's not fair for these tens of thousands of Hasidic children.

Official: Thank you for the comment. Let's move on.

On August 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio largely sidestepped a similar question. "We have a legal requirement to make sure that the proper education happens in every kind of school, so we are perusing that vigorously, I assure you," he said.

The ultra-orthodox community is close to de Blasio. The administration has been accused of waiting until after the mayoral election to act. Officials denied that, and earlier this summer, promised an interim report by Sept. 22.

But Friday, an education department spokeswoman said she could no longer provide a date for its release.