Tag Archives: Education
House Hearing on Vouchers

No Lost Irony

On Thursday morning, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a “field” hearing on the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), or the D.C. school vouchers program at Archbishop Carroll High School, where a large percentage of the students receive these vouchers.

The Reform Movement has a long history of opposing voucher programs, not only because we believe in the importance of supporting and maintaining a robust, high-quality and high-performing public school system, but also because a large portion of voucher dollars got to parochial schools, compromising church-state separation.The irony of having the hearing at this location was not lost on those of us in attendance who work on this issue from a church-state separation perspective. Read more…

Girls in 1909 protesting slavery in Yiddish and English

The Modern Plagues of Inequality

On Passover, we remember the ten plagues that were put upon the Egyptian people. Thousands of years later, modern-day plagues of inequality should ignite contemporary responses to combat these injustices. Many of the most vulnerable members of our society are disproportionately affected; they cannot be “passed over” or ignored, especially during this important holiday. As we think about the ancient plagues, let us also keep in mind those who still live under the weight of modern plagues.

Read more…

Bill de Blasio posing with a sign that says "I love #EidinNYC"

NYC Mayor Adds Muslim Holidays to School Closings

After much anticipation, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all public schools in the five boroughs will now be closed for two Muslim holidays: Eid al-Adha, which marks the end of the Festival of the Sacrifice, and Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan at the end of the summer (this closing will happen during summer school).

Although the City Council had approved a resolution to add these holidays to the school calendars in 2009, Mayor de Blasio (who has been in office a little over a year) has finally implemented this change. Read more…

President Obama's budget documents

Encouraged by the President’s Budget – But What’s Next?

As people of faith, our Jewish values encourage us to advocate for systems that can lift people out of poverty. Jewish history also provides us with an example for helping the needy. During Talmudic times, much of tzedakah (justice) was done though tax-financed, community-run programs that helped those in needed, paralleling the social safety net that we continue to fight for today. Coming from the President, his proposed federal budget is a list of priorities for how funding should be spent in the year to come. Our budget is a moral document that can create the platform for addressing these and other injustices.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has estimated that the President’s budget would slightly reduce the debt as a share of GDP (gross domestic product) over the first ten years and would then stabilize it through 2040. This finding signifies how the budget President Obama has proposed is one that is responsible while also continuing to fund many important human needs programs. Read more…

Jewish Disability Awareness Month Logo February 2015

Protecting the Rights of Students with Disabilities in Schools

Throughout February, we are commemorating Jewish Disability Awareness Month, a unique opportunity to highlight the ways that we as a community can be more inclusive and supportive of people with disabilities. It is important that we keep in mind all the many facets of how so many of the issues we work on at the RAC uniquely affect people with disabilities. For example, you might not know about the connection between the rights of students with disabilities and private school vouchers, but there are serious concerns regarding how the preponderance of “school choice” programs will affect these students. Read more…

church street and state street signs pointing in different directions

The Harm that Vouchers Cause

This week is so-called School Choice Week (January 25-31), when pro-vouchers advocates try to take over the narrative and promote their views that the privatization of public funding into vouchers and tax credits promotes educational opportunities and expands choices for parents and students.

They could not be more wrong. Read more…

Fran Lamarre-Cham of Hillcrest with her daughter, Maia Cham, 8, and son, Mason Cham, 10, attend a vigil in support of public schools at the East Ramapo Central School District administration building in Spring Valley before a scheduled Board of Education meeting May 26, 2010.

Stand With East Ramapo

Spring Valley High School was once a robust school, but since members of the Haredi Jewish community won a majority of seats the school board in 2007, the school has fallen significantly behind other high schools in Rockland County, New York. Dozens of classes, extracurricular activities and staff members have been cut or fired from the high school because of a lack of funds.

The loss of these resources have devastated the school. Many students can no longer earn enough credits to graduate in four years and the graduation rate has fallen to 64%, below the national average. East Ramapo middle schools have also seen funding and personnel cuts, with all middle school sports and music programs completely eliminated. Read more…

church street and state street signs pointing in different directions

Two Birds with One Stone

In this age of intersecting social justice imperatives — when advocates are looking for important overlaps between traditionally defined policy areas — it’s important to remember one key issue that has serious repercussions for both our public school system and the separation of church and state: vouchers.

Vouchers (and some private school tax credits), known to some as “school choice” efforts, essentially take money away from public schools and funnel it towards private, often parochial schools. The public schools system epitomizes the American values of opportunity and equality, and the Jewish people have historically been major supporters of our public school system in keeping with the values laid out by Maimonides who wrote that “any city that does not have a school in it shall be cut off [all contact] until they find a teacher for the children” (Hilchot Talmud Torah 2:1).

Read more…

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