By Judith Dinowitz
On Monday, November 28th, Agudath Israel of America, and four other Jewish education umbrella groups, hosted over 100 yeshiva principals and administrators from more than 80 schools at their Annual NYC Yeshiva Conference.
The event, graciously hosted by Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn, was introduced by Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel. Rabbi Zwiebel provided an overview of recent educational developments and their potential impact on yeshivos, including the selection of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Moreover, he invited the opportunity to report to, and partner with, yeshivos. “With this kind of collaboration,” continued Rabbi Zwiebel, “yeshiva students can be represented before NYC officials in a way that promotes the best possible educational opportunities for our children.”
The event launched with a review of several federal programs available to NYC yeshiva students and educators, including professional development, summer programs and literacy training. Agudath Israel, together with its Jewish educational partners – the Alliance for Yeshiva Education, the Jewish Education Project, Sephardic Community Federation, and the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg – expressed their pride at having facilitated increased yeshiva participation in Title I services. By restructuring service provider delivery to a model which comports with the yeshiva schedule, students in need of extra instructional support have truly been able to benefit from the supplemental programming that Title I was meant to provide. While a decade ago, only about 30 NYC yeshivos received Title I support, nearly 130 yeshivos are receiving such services today.
The Every Student Succeeds Act, the new, overarching federal law governing education, effective Fall 2017, was then reviewed. Specifically, four key provisions of the law were outlined, along with their potential educational benefits to nonpublic schools. This was followed with a presentation of three pilot programs, already in negotiations with the NYC Department of Education, to implement the educational doors ESSA opens.
The Conference concluded with a lively question and answer session.
“The information at this meeting is essential for yeshivas. To provide the best education for their students, and not miss opportunities, yeshivos must be aware of what educational programs are out there,” said Avrohom Weinstock, Esq, Associate Director of Education Affairs.
Miss Chaya Faigie Jundef, Secular Studies Principal of Nefesh Academy, spoke warmly of the benefits of attending. “Just being in a room with so many yeshiva faculty members is a powerful experience; it provides support and networking opportunities… I was especially intrigued to learn about potential options under ESSA, which can be a huge asset for struggling students. I am grateful to the dedicated teams at the Agudah and its partners in advocating for our schools.”