The Constitution and New York’s Efforts to Control the Yeshivas

Earlier this month, the New York State Board of Regents approved a set of amendments to the educational requirements for private schools—written primarily with ḥasidic schools in mind. Michael A. Helfand considers the constitutional limits on the state’s ability to govern what happens in religious educational institutions:

New York’s rule requiring private schools to provide “instruction in mathematics, science, English language arts, and social studies that is substantially equivalent to such instruction required to be provided in public schools” is likely to withstand constitutional challenge even if that challenge is grounded in a combination of parental- and religious-liberty rights. And that’s because it will almost certainly be viewed as necessary to ensure students become full and productive members of a democratic society. Thus, while the Supreme Court has been sympathetic to religious-liberty claims in recent years, the need to provide citizens with educational basics is sufficiently weighty that it will likely overcome constitutional challenge.

At the same time, some of New York’s rules veer beyond these core objectives. For example, New York’s education law requires students to study “patriotism, citizenship, and human-rights issues,” including “the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery, . . . the Holocaust, and the mass starvation in Ireland from 1845 to 1850.” This sort of very particular curricular list, while undeniably providing important educational lessons, is far more vulnerable to constitutional challenge because it is less connected to the essential skills that typically justify limitations on parents’ 14th Amendment rights.

Maybe there’s a lesson in all of that. To the extent government officials impose only core educational requirements, they stand on strong constitutional footing. . . . But if government gets carried away, and moves beyond what is essential to that goal, its authority wanes—and the strength of potential constitutional challenges grows.

Read more at JTA

More about: Hasidim, Jewish education, Religious Freedom, U.S. Constitution


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University