It’s back-to-school season, and the question on every parent's mind is simple: Will kids go back to school?
In the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York, where Hasidic Jewish families are no stranger to adversity in education, there’s an extra layer of concern: Will our schools survive the financial distress imposed by COVID-19’s economic toll?
Over the last 20 years, enrollment in yeshiva schools in New York has grown by 62.6%, according to a Manhattan Institute report from the institute’s director of education policy, Ray Domanico. In Crown Heights, home to the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic movement, enrollment in Jewish schools has increased by 40%, with more than 6,000 children enrolled in the neighborhood’s yeshivas.
But the coronavirus and the economic crisis have taken a toll on the community in Crown Heights and the yeshivas that serve as its nervous system. With over 50 community members lost to the coronavirus and tuition revenue down, these schools are in peril. At a recent Manhattan Institute event, Rabbi Motti Seligson, director of media relations at Chabad Lubavitch, explained that for these yeshivas, confrontation with adversity is nothing new. But without emergency federal funding for religious and private schools, perhaps something along the lines of the School Choice Now Act that Sens. Tim Scott and Lamar Alexander are advancing, this new trial could be one of the toughest the sector has faced.
Malka Groden is the deputy director of development at the Manhattan Institute.
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