A New York Court Affirms That Parents, Not Schools, Are Responsible for Educating Their Children

In a recent ruling in the ongoing dispute between the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and several ḥasidic schools, a state court decided in favor of the latter. NYSED claims that the schools in question, because of their strong emphasis on religious over secular education, do not fulfill the state’s legal requirement that private educational institutions provide a curriculum “substantially equivalent” to that offered by public ones. On these grounds, it seeks to close the schools down. The schools’ lawyers argue that such a move would violate the religious freedom of both parents and children. Michael A. Helfand explains Judge Christina Ryba’s verdict and its implications:

According to Judge Ryba, the constitutional challenges were premature: the new regulations [issued by NYSED] did not add substantive educational requirements; they only outlined a process for reviewing schools’ compliance with preexisting educational requirements. As a result, any legal challenge arguing that the regulations imposed educational requirements that trespass on the rights of schools and parents must fail—at least for now—because the regulations did not, in fact, impose any new substantive requirements.

But while the court sidestepped the constitutional claims, it still interpreted existing New York law as vindicating a parallel principle of parental authority. Thus the court struck down perhaps the most significant elements of the regulations: the NYSED’s authority to close a school for failing to provide a substantially equivalent education. According to the court, New York’s education law makes clear why: “the statutory scheme places the burden for ensuring a child’s education squarely on the parent, not the school.” This implication, argued the court, is clear from various provisions of New York’s education laws—Education Law 3212, for example, which obligates those in a “parental relation” with a child to ensure that the child is receiving the required education. . . . Nowhere, however, does New York law authorize the imposition of penalties on a nonpublic school.

By locating the substantial-equivalence obligation with parents, the court interpreted New York law to require the state to consider alternative ways in which parents might meet this standard. Thus, if a nonpublic school is not providing a “substantially equivalent” education, “the parents should be given a reasonable opportunity to prove that the substantial equivalency requirements for their children’s education are satisfied by instruction provided through a combination of sources.”

Read more at City Journal

More about: Freedom of Religion, Hasidim, Jewish education, New York

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy