NEW YORK – The number of students attending Jewish day schools and yeshivas in New York City from kindergarten to 12th grade in the 2015-16 school year has exceeded 100,000, an all-time high, according to data released by the New York State Department of Education.
According to the data, the total number of K-12 students enrolled in Jewish day schools and yeshivas is 101,120, or 7.7 percent of the school enrollment in the city. Another 137,283 students are enrolled in other parochial and independent schools.
Overall, 18% of New York City’s 1,312,393 kindergarten to 12th-grade students are enrolled in non-public schools.
Across the State of New York, the study showed that more than 412,000 students attend non-public school, 13% of the state’s overall school population. Yet, they receive only 1% of local and state education funding.
Director of state political affairs for the Orthodox Union’s Teach NYS project, Maury Litwack, said the figures show the importance of continuing to push for a more equitable distribution of local and state funds for non-public schools.
“This demonstrates our community’s need to stay focused on one of the top priorities for our families: making non-public school education more affordable,” Litwack said.
“We will continue to work with our partners in New York City and Albany to ensure that the city and state invest in our children in a fair and meaningful manner.”
Teach NYS aims to advocate for the needs of the non-public school community. In 2013, the work of the Orthodox Union and Teach NYS secured $49.5 million for New York Jewish day schools. They have recently and successfully advocated for New York City to allocate $20m. to provide a safety officer at every non-public school in the city so that the schools can increase security.
Policy director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, Jake Adler, told The Jerusalem Post that the growth of enrollment in day school and yeshiva populations in New York City has a dual impact.
He said the impact is “both internal, for our community, and external for policy makers on the city and state levels.” He added: “Internally, it energizes our community to focus on uniting to ensure that all of our children receive an equitable share of funding.
Externally, the legislators and policy makers have also taken note – these numbers really show how big of an issue our fight for equitable funding is.”
He added that “there is no question that the single greatest domestic policy item for the Jewish community is non-public school affordability.”
The Orthodox organization Agudath Israel of America, which advocates for the Jewish community’s religious and civil rights, and offers a variety of educational, charitable and social services to its constituents, has also been lobbying for funding and security at Jewish day schools and yeshivas.
The organization wrote in a statement to The Jerusalem Post that it is “pleased to mark the significant growth of the yeshiva demographic.”
“This growth is a testament to the centrality of education to Jewish continuity,” it continued. “Agudath Israel has worked, and always will work, tirelessly with other non-public school groups on behalf of yeshivas and the families they serve.”