Tuesday, February 25, 2020
The number of city kids attending Jewish yeshivas has skyrocketed over the last two decades while Catholic school enrollment has plunged, according to a new report.
During the 2000-2001 school year, there were 76,538 kids enrolled in yeshivas, the Manhattan Institute study found.
By the 2018-2019 academic year, that number soared to 111,970 — a rise of 46 percent, according to the study.
Catholic school enrollment has plummeted by roughly the same proportion over that stretch. There were 148,658 students in the Christian schools in 2000-2001 and just 77,025 last year — a drop of 48 percent, the report states.
The yeshiva explosion stems from high birthrates in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community and near total parental rejection of government schooling, officials said.
"The New York yeshiva system now has more schools educating more students than ever before," said a spokesman for PEARLS, a group pushing back against criticism of the schools. "This dramatic expansion reflects the widespread satisfaction of yeshiva graduates with their own education, as they overwhelmingly send their children to yeshivas as well."
Yeshivas have fallen under intense scrutiny in recent years with increasingly vocal critics accusing them of ignoring basic education in favor of religious immersion.
Naftuli Moster, founder of yeshiva reform organization YAFFED, said he welcomed the sector's growth but said it highlighted the need for urgent change.
"This data should be a warning signal that without immediate intervention, our city will face an education crisis like we have never seen before," he told The Post. "Today, tens-of-thousands of children who are currently being denied a basic education, as required by law, could soon become hundreds of thousands of children."
Moster said he expects the Hasidic school-age population to double every 15 years.
While Catholic school enrollment is following the opposite trajectory, a spokesman for the New York Archdiocese said interest in faith-based education is on the uptick.
"Over the past 20 years falling birthrates and an exodus from the northeast have impacted many school systems," said T.J. McCormack. "We have our eyes set to the future, delivering an innovative, state-of-the-art, faith-based curriculum where test scores outpace most others and graduation rates are consistently above 99 percent, providing society with tomorrow's leaders."
Meanwhile, enrollment at the city's traditional public schools has dropped by 11.1 percent since the 2000-2001 school year, going from 1,066,516 to 948,047 last year, according to the study.
Some of that drop is attributable to the expansion of city charter schools, which went from an enrollment of just 1,821 in 2001 to 117,176 last year.
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