Government officials don't have a clue.
Mayor Bloomberg not sure if city has oversight; state says the city does.Shmueli Lowenstein's experience is much more common. The 25-year-old is a former student at Oholei Torah, the most prominent yeshiva in Crown Heights, where, he said, “I did not grow up learning English or any kind of secular studies at all,” and subjects like phonics and math were “nonexistent." “Everything was done in Yiddish until seventh or eighth grade, and then they would switch to Hebrew," Lowenstein said. "I don’t think I ever received a paper with English writing on it, except for maybe a permission slip for a school trip.”
Under New York state and federal regulations, stories like Lowenstein’s shouldn’t be possible — all New York schools, public and private, are required to offer "equivalency of instruction" in basic general subjects such as American history and math.
Asked during an unrelated press conference whether his administration was aware of the issue and planned to do anything to address it, Bloomberg seemed unsure about the city's oversight role. "I don’t think our Department of Education has anything to do with it," he said.
"My guess would be it would be up to the state Department of Education. But we’ll be happy to check and see if they’re the ones that have the standards and have to enforce the standards for all the schools.” According to a state DOE spokeswoman, it's up to the board of education in each of the state's school districts to make sure children attending non-public schools and being home-schooled are "receiving instruction which is substantially equivalent to that provided in the public schools."