Proposal To Regulate Private Schools Could Be Detrimental To Religious Freedom

A proposal of private school regulations in NY are under fire for possibly hindering schools' ability to teach based on religious freedom.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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private school regulations

Public school enrollment is plummeting at rates never seen before. There are plenty of reasons for this, but one major reason is that strict regulations seem to be failing students, according to many parents. Because of this, families are turning to alternatives like private schools, which don’t have to follow much of the education regulations that public schools do. In New York State, however, that could soon change. A new proposal for private school regulations is in the works, and it might be detrimental to the religious freedom that private schools often benefit from.

The Washington Examiner reports that a proposed private school regulation by New York’s Department of Education could clash with first amendment rights. In March, the proposal was drafted as a possible measure to create “multiple pathways” for private schools to ensure students who attend them receive the education they are entitled to under the law. To opposers, it looks like an attack on religious freedom.

Still unclear what these new private school regulations would look like if approved, it is known that it would increase state oversight of curriculum requirements and testing. This could mean that private religious academies could possibly be required to teach students materials that go against their religious beliefs. In order to comply, the proposal noted that private schools would be required to obtain accreditation from an outside group, and possibly administer state-approved exams. 

The call for this private school regulation measure surprisingly came from a group of Hasidic Jewish students through the Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED) organization. The complaint is that the education they received at private Jewish schools was incapable of preparing them for life after school. However, the bid is drawing strong dissent from a majority of the Jewish community.

Over 300,000 members of the Hasidic community have commented on the state private school regulation measure, speaking out against it. Overall, people fear that stricter regulations would interfere with Jewish schools’ ability to direct education under Jewish law – something they are passionate about. The Coalition for Jewish Values mentioned the first amendment and the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court case Wisconsin v. Yoder in its formal letter opposing it.

The Jewish community isn’t the only group or community against the private schools regulation matter. Other religious groups are speaking out about their concerns that stricter regulations could threaten religious freedom. The superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of New York spoke of the years of success that Catholic schools have shown over the past decades, proving that more state interference is not needed.  Speaking with the New York Post, Michael Deegan mentioned that Catholic schools always welcome “measurement of our rigorous academics” however, he also held reservations on what this could mean for their future ability to run the schools based on religious views. 

private school regulations

There is no mention on the DOE’s website of where this private school regulation proposal stands as of now. If enacted, it will likely face another windfall of opposition and lawsuits as it might interfere with the First Amendment. For those turning to private schools, it’s a scary idea to many.