The Government Should Keep Its Involvement in Religious Schools to a Minimum

June 21 2021

In February, the New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang said in an interview that the municipal government “shouldn’t interfere with [ḥasidic] religious and parental choice” regarding schooling, “as long as the outcomes are good.” After the increased governmental scrutiny of ḥaredi schools in recent years over concerns that they provide inadequate secular educations, such statements have won Yang the support of some prominent Orthodox rabbis and communal leaders. Michael Broyde and Moshe Krakowski argue that his position is fundamentally correct:

While data about ḥasidic economic and educational outcomes are limited, the information available does not suggest that Ḥasidim are particularly disadvantaged economically. . . . So too, it’s not clear that ḥasidic students—who are largely English-language learners since their first language is usually Yiddish—would fare any better in public schools. For example, eighth-grade English-language learners in public schools in Williamsburg, [a Brooklyn neighborhood where many Ḥasidim live], had a zero-percent proficiency rate in math and English in 2016, according to the city’s own data.

Use of education law to mandate schooling that conflicts with religious faith is exactly what our constitutional system opposes. And for good reason: forcing parents into an educational model that they religiously oppose is unlikely to succeed.

In a multicultural society, we must all make room for each other and for our diverse values. While most Americans will attend public schools, private schools (particularly parochial schools), exist to provide other kinds of education—in Mandarin or Yiddish, focusing on Native American culture or talmudic law, providing an Amish or Catholic view of the world. Rather than mandating conformity, New York should support reasonable educational rubrics—ones that are consistent with each religious community’s values, and that, as Yang suggests, produce good outcomes. Carrots from government, rather than sticks, need to be used to achieve those goals.

Read more at Education Next

More about: Andrew Yang, Education, Freedom of Religion, Hasidism, Jewish education, New York City

The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship