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December 5, 2018 5:38 pm

Jewish School Depicted as ‘Subpar’ by New York Times Is Harvard Feeder

avatar by Ira Stoll

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The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The head of a Jewish school in Queens is faulting The New York Times for illustrating an article about “subpar education” at Jewish schools with a photo of his institution, which he says has sent six of its alumni to Harvard Law School in the past decade.

As reported in The Yeshiva World, the statement from the Rabbi Yaakov Bender of Yeshiva Darchei Torah is as follows:

The New York Times has an article online suggesting that yeshiva students receive a subpar education. It is a horribly unfair attack on our entire yeshiva system. Incredibly, the Times article is illustrated with a photo of our yeshiva, Darchei Torah.

Subpar? Our students regularly outperform students in New York City’s public schools.

Students who want to avoid a subpar education should leave the public schools and enroll in a Yeshiva such as ours.

We take the most pride in fulfilling our primary mission of teaching Torah and imparting Torah values. But we also outperform the public schools academically at every level. Our performance on State tests far surpasses theirs, we offer numerous Advanced Placement courses, and our graduates achieve great success in their chosen professions. Six of our alumni have attended Harvard Law School over the past decade!

We also do far better than the public schools in other important ways: we are free of drugs, crime and the disrespect that plagues New York youth. Our Yeshivos certainly do not need the advice of our local school boards.

They surely should be interested in observing us, not to evaluate our performance but to learn how to emulate our success.

The New York Times has no business disparaging our yeshiva system. Their criticism of yeshivas was as off-base as their choice of a photo of Darchei Torah to accompany their article.

The federal education secretary, Betsy DeVos, visited the school earlier this year.

On the Times website, the headline, “Do Children Get a Subpar Education in Yeshivas? New York Says It Will Finally Find Out,” appears directly over a photo of Darchei Torah, with the Times photo cutline, “A group of graduates from ultra-Orthodox Jewish private schools in New York claim that some yeshiva students are never taught secular lessons, like science or history.”

The Times has been waging a “war against Yeshivas,” as The Algemeiner has pointed out in the past.

No doubt there are some yeshivas that do a poor-verging-on-nonexistent job of teaching secular subjects and whose students would be better served by improvements. Yet as a high priority for government intervention, this seems questionable. In fact, this seems to be one area on which religious Jews and The New York Times agree.

From a recent speech by the Satmar rebbe Aron Teitelbaum, as translated by an activist for improved secular education in Jewish schools, Naftuli Moster: “We say to the state education commissioner: if you want to improve education for New York State’s residents, go fix the public schools first.”

From the recent Times article that was accompanied by the objectionable photo: “Urgent problems in the city’s 1,800 public schools — including ballooning student homelessness and entrenched racial segregation — will take precedence over issues in religious schools that the city does not run.”

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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