Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thousands of Yeshiva Students Eligible for Free Tutoring Services

Thanks to the advocacy of several Jewish organizations including the Sephardic Community Federation, UJO of Williamsburg, Agudath Israel & the BJE, beginning this week thousands of yeshiva children are now eligible to receive free tutoring services. At the request of the Jewish groups, the Department of Education (DOE) has contracted with Catapult Learning, a leading education support service company, to provide free remedial services to thousands of yeshiva students. This pilot project will allow students at Bais Yaakov of Boro Park, Yeshiva Toras Emes Kaminetz and Yeshivat Ohr Haiim to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tutoring services absolutely free.

“In our research, we came across a federal program that should be providing New York’s yeshiva students with over fifty million dollars a year worth of free tutoring services but was not.” explained David Greenfield, Executive Vice President of SCF “Armed with that data, we spent over a year working with the Department of Education to change the rules so that our yeshiva students would benefit from this federal program. Boruch Hashem, our hard work has been rewarded with Department of Education now agreeing to allow a pilot program of three yeshivas to receive these free services.” Greenfield went on to explain that if all goes well, next year this program will be expanded to most yeshivas in New York City. This historic breakthrough would eventually allow tens of thousands of yeshiva students to receive top-notch remedial services at absolutely no cost to parents or yeshivas.

SCF Executive Vice President David G. Greenfield and UJO President Rabbi David Niederman, both of whom were appointed by the Mayor’s office to the NYC-DOE’s Non-Public School Standing Committee, led the historic effort to obtain millions of dollars worth of education services for New York’s yeshiva students. As part of its effort to give yeshivas the opportunity to avail themselves of federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) services, SCF prepared for the NYC-DOE a comprehensive 28-page report in February 2007 entitled “Why Aren’t New York City Yeshivas Receiving Their Fair Share Of NCLB Funds & Services And What Can Be Done To Remedy This Inequity?”

The study found that although the federal NCLB Act requires that all funds get distributed in an equitable dollar-per-pupil eligibility formula for public and private schools, there was substantial evidence that students in New York City’s yeshivas have not benefited from this legislation. The report concluded that 30,000 students in Brooklyn yeshivas are missing out on approximately $40 million each year in Title I services which they are entitled to, but not receiving.

“The federal government established a program intended to benefit all struggling students, in both public and private school alike, yet not everyone has been able to take advantage of this program,” said SCF Executive Vice President David Greenfield, “Now that the DOE has agreed to our request to change the rules to benefit yeshiva students, I am optimistic that no student in New York City will be left behind any longer.”

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