Monday, March 16, 2015

NYC's de Blasio Proposes Compromise On Religious Instruction In Pre-K Programs

AP reported yesterday that in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to expand the participation of Jewish, Christian and Muslim schools in his free pre-kindergarten program for 4-year olds by permitting schools to offer religious instruction and prayer during mid-day breaks. This proposal is particularly aimed at increasing the participation of Orthodox Jewish schools in the program. The New York Civil Liberties Union says this is an "end-run" around church-state restrictions.  Meanwhile, this arrangement may still be a problem for many Jewish schools who see the required secular 6 hour and 20 minute day as too long to leave time for additional religious instruction.  The city is proposing to allow schools to remain open 6 days per week, and also on federal holidays such as Christmas, so students can get 31 hours and 40 minutes of secular instruction per week. But a spokesman for Jewish schools says this compromise is still unworkable.