Following a report earlier this month that New York rabbis are strongly resisting official attempts force ultra-Orthodox schools to provide pupils with a proper education, the BBC reports today that more than 100 suspected illegal schools are being operated in the UK.
Half are religious in nature, with a third of those being Islamic and the rest Jewish or Christian, according to education watchdog, Ofsted.
Ofsted’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, above, said that evidence gathered during a short investigative period:
Firmly reinforces my belief that there are many more children hidden away from the view of the authorities in unregistered schools across the country than previously thought.
During the inspectors’ visits, which took place last month, 350 children had been found on the premises of these schools, Sir Michael, adding that such schools provided a sub-standard education, placed children at risk and undermined the government’s effort to ensure all schools promote British values.
He pledged swift and decisive action against those who are operating illegal schools, and thereby putting children at risk of harm.
In New York, officials investigating ultra-Orthodox schools were accused of being manipulated by “worthless snitches” in the community by Satmar leader, Hasidic rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, above, centre.
In response to the city Education Department’s apparently half-hearted investigation into schools failing to teach secular subjects as required by law, the rabbi said in a speech:
These are bad times for us Jews. We need to pray to God that (city officials) should not interfere with the upbringing of our children.
That review remains ongoing nearly a year later.
Advocates contend the Education Department is just stalling.
Said Naftuli Moster, who founded Young Advocates for Fair Education, a group advocating for yeshivas to meet secular standards required by state law:
This speech is concerning in many ways. Most concerning is the apparent collusion between community leaders and the (department) which might explain why the city investigation stalled early on.
In July last year, according to the New York Times, Teitelbaum’s “worthless snitches – 52 parents, former students and former teachers sent a letter to New York City’s Education Department saying that 39 yeshivas were violating state law by not providing students, particularly boys, an adequate education in secular subjects like English, math and science. The Education Department said then that it would conduct an investigation of the yeshivas, located in Brooklyn and Queens.
But in April, the group behind the letter held a news conference in front of City Hall to express its frustration with the lack of any apparent progress in the investigation.
It’s eight months later, and there’s no sign of a serious investigation taking place. In fact, all indications are that the DOE. is just stalling us. In the meantime, tens of thousands of boys — we estimate around 30,000 — are not getting a basic education.”
The group’s lawyer, Norman Siegel, a longtime advocate for civil liberties, said he believed the reason the investigation was stalled was that city officials did not want to cross ultra-Orthodox leaders.
It’s about people putting politics over the rule of law.
Hat tip: AgentCormac and BarrieJohn (BBC report)