Welcome to PSPSE
Private School Parents for Substantial Equivalency
What is PSPSE?
Private School Parents for Substantial Equivalency (PSPSE) is dedicated to ensuring that all students receive the education they are entitled to under New York State law, which mandates that all of New York’s private schools deliver an education that is “at least substantially equivalent” to that of public schools.
PSPSE advocates for reasonable state regulations designed to enforce New York’s “substantial equivalency” law for all private schools.
While recognizing that communities are guided by different priorities, PSPSE strives to protect every student’s right to this “substantially equivalent” education - an education that instills the knowledge to participate in civil society and that helps provide our citizens with the skills to earn a living for themselves and their families.
PSPSE provides ongoing opportunities for private school parents to stay abreast of relevant information, to discover ways to apply pressure to enact regulations, and to help ensure that all students in New York’s private schools receive the academic learning in English, math, science, and social studies that they are entitled to and deserve.
PSPSE aims to:
- Support reasonable state regulations that ensure all private schools are in compliance with New York State law
- Raise awareness of educational neglect in many of New York’s independent schools
- Combat misinformation designed to discredit the proposed NYSED regulations
- Support parents’ rights in choosing a school for their children
If we value educational equity, and we do, we cannot stand by and watch children become victims of educational neglect.
PSPSE provides ongoing opportunities for private school parents to stay abreast of relevant information. Interested in learning more? Sign up here!
Who is PSPSE?
An educator with twenty years experience and a Yeshiva graduate herself, E.Y. Zipris lives on the Upper West Side with her family. EY’s young daughter is currently in an independent Jewish day school and is her inspiration to speak out on behalf of education for all students.
Jamie a middle school math teacher and faculty coach at a private middle school in Manhattan serving students with dyslexia and language-based learning disabilities. He lives with his wife and three children, each a graduate of Manhattan private schools, on the Upper West Side.
Barbra Rothschild is a parent of four children, two of whom are currently attending an independent school in Manhattan.
What is substantial equivalency, and why is this an issue now?
In 1894, New York State passed a law mandating that all the state’s private schools (both religious and secular) provide an education that is "at least substantially equivalent" to that of public schools. Sadly, many of New York’s ultra-Orthodox yeshivas have failed to meet this minimum requirement. In defiance of New York State law, many yeshivas have failed to provide tens of thousands of children with a basic education.
Why are New York's secular private schools against the NYSED regulations?
Recently, the state education department has proposed a set of regulations that would ensure all schools abide by the law. The requirements are basic and straightforward: all of New York’s students must be taught reading, writing, math, social studies, and science by a competent teacher, in English, for at least three-and-a-half hours per school day. In order to ensure compliance, the local superintendent will make one pre-announced visit to each school once every three to five years.
Although this criteria constitutes a low bar to jump over, scores of New York’s private schools took it upon themselves to send letters of grave (and false) warnings to their parent bodies regarding the regulations. If implemented, they wrote, the regulations would cripple their independence, render them unable to hire teachers of their choosing, and impose an onerous new cost structure. Most ominously, the letters incorrectly stated that the state would potentially gain access to private school student reports, school budgets and personnel records. None of this was true.
Sadly, these letters constituted a set of talking points crafted by the leadership of the New York State Association for Independent Schools, the accreditation agency for many of New York’s private schools. In a misguided bid to protect their power and to block any potential oversight by the state, NYSAIS stoked fear among private school administrators, faculty and parents with tales of a Deep State takeover of their schools. This misinformation among many many private school administrators and parents persists to this day.
Tell me more about ultra Orthodox Yeshivas
Let's be clear, the word "yeshiva" refers to a school that offers a Jewish religious education. "Yeshiva" may refer to a rabbinical school or a K-12 institution. Some yeshivas are co-educational. Many yeshivas provide an excellent secular, as well as religious, education. Others refuse to provide any secular education at all. If you hear someone say, "I received an excellent education at my yeshiva," this person may very well have. But we also know of many yeshivas, at least 26 in Brooklyn alone, where former students have reported graduating without a working knowledge of English, or not knowing what the Civil War was, or without any knowledge of science. All private schools, including the yeshivas, should be subject to regulations that ensure they are providing a substantially equivalent education.
In December of 2019, a long awaited report from the NYC Department of Education - four years in the making - revealed that only 2 of the 28 ultra Orthodox yeshivas visited by education department regulators offered a "substantially equivalent" education to the public schools.
After years of educational neglect and defiance of state law, it has become clear that without government intervention, nothing will change. On behalf of all New York students, PSPSE seeks to support the implementation of reasonable regulations to ensure a basic education for all of New York’s students.