Jewish Groups Unite on Education Issues, Warn of Cuts to Busing and Special Education - The Jewish Voice
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Monday, May 16, 2022

Jewish Groups Unite on Education Issues, Warn of Cuts to Busing and Special Education

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NY State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver meeting with leaders from UJA-Federation of New York, TEACH-NYS and the Orthodox Union, together with Assembly Members Rhoda Jacobs, Michael Simanowitz, and Helene Weinstein. (PHOTO CREDIT: HILLEL ENGEL)Three Jewish organizations sponsored a joint leadership mission to Albany, NY, last Monday (June 4), in support of the 130,000 students in Jewish day schools, among over 400,000 in all of New York State’s non-public schools. They thanked legislators and Governor Cuomo for restoring reimbursement funds and for exempting all schools from the two-year-old MTA Payroll Tax.

The Jewish groups also expressed concern about new legislation that would allow school districts to cut busing for non-public school children, and to further restrict the ability for parents to be reimbursed for special education services when the public programs are unsuitable.

Leaders participated from UJA-Federation of New York; TEACH-NYS, the Educational Alliance for Children in New York State; and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

Chuck Mamiye, Co-Chair of TEACH-NYS, said: “We very much appreciate all sides coming together since last December to restore the status quo for the payroll tax and reimbursed services. We now urge Albany not to shift additional burdens to our parents and communities, in the form of reduced bus services or unrealistic criteria for special needs programs.” One bill now in the Senate, S6688, would sharply reduce the deadline to file for reimbursement, barely leaving enough time to even get a child placed in an appropriate program.

Rabbi Steven Burg, Managing Director of the Orthodox Union, added: “Our families do make a choice to educate their kids outside the public system, but New York State still has some responsibilities to them and spends just one percent of funding on a whopping 13 percent of the students. We want to work together with our elected officials on policies to expand this support, so everyone might benefit.”

Eric Goldstein, Chair of UJA-Federation’s Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal, emphasized: “Our most important message … as the Senate and Assembly begin wrapping up their legislative session, is that Jewish community organizations stand together on these issues. We also appreciate the leaders of the Assembly and the Senate, who have joined with Governor Cuomo in good faith, to deliver concrete results for so many taxpaying families in New York State.”

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