Recently a Lakewood publication ran a headline “decades-long effort to secure major new funding for Yeshivos succeeds.” The article claimed R’ Aaron Kotler & attorney Inzelbach helped secure “major” grants for Yeshivas which can “help offset much of the cost of non-limudei Kodesh.”
Sources who are intimately involved in federal and state funding as well as STEM grants, in particular, told GreaterLakewood this is utterly false. Yeshivos did not get “major funding” in fact – they likely got ZERO funding. Running fake news articles that pertain to Schools, is a disservice to school administrators and owners who get excited when there’s nothing doing.
In fact, sources tell GL that Lakewood askanim had absolutely nothing to do with these grants. No decades of effort – at all.
A massive nothing-burger.
Here is a breakdown:
There is a STEM bill in New York – an OU project. The bill reimburses the salary of ‘English teachers’ which requires the teacher to hold a master’s degree in STEM.
The OU strongly pushed the STEM program, and now there are about 15 million dollars allocated to the program.
Yeshiva Darchei Torah gets a few teachers paid, as well as a few other Yeshivos.
Trying to replicate the NY project, Teach NJ stepped in. The OU raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby for it – and got the bill passed in NJ.
However, the NJ teachers union opposed it – since they work in the Public school system and they don’t want funds allocated for non-public school – and essentially hijacked the bill, totally changing it making the requirements to receive the grants – brutal to impossible – for Yeshivas.
Here are the 3 requirements to receive funding for the NJ STEM law :
- The teacher must be a current active Public School teacher
- A public school teacher also must be a STEM teacher or actively enrolled in a masters program
- The teacher is NOT employed by the school, they are employed by the BOE. So the school can’t fire the teacher if need be, it needs to submit a complaint to the commissioner who will decide the fate of the teacher.
Here’s why Yeshivas won’t benefit:
In Lakewood, schools like to hire Frum teachers. Now, practically no male Frum teachers also work in the Public school system (requirement 1) – perhaps there are two such teachers in all of Lakewood. Amongst female teachers, it appears currently none are STEM teachers (requirement 2). So Yeshivas cannot apply for the program.
Now, even if we identify teachers that can be eligible, we are dealing with very few hours – these teachers need to be Public school teachers and teach in Yeshivas after the P.S day ends, so there is little time – meaning little money to be saved. Now, even if a teacher works in a Yeshiva that short period of time after Public school hours – the school needs to be OK knowing they cannot fire the teacher if they find a reason to – (point 3 above).
So when details are broken down – the program is not practical at all. And even if you find a teacher and find a school that agrees to hire, they need to submit an application and apply and be awarded by the commissioner. Not every school that applies wins – it’s a competitive grant – based on how their application is.
Now – after all this – to claim successful efforts of major new funding is simply untrue and is not fair to mislead schools.
Even if all steps work out and a few teachers succeed in obtaining the grant, how much is the school saving!? One or two teacher’s salaries for a few hours? Let’s say max 60K for the entire Lakewood! This ain’t no “major funding” and “decades-long effort…”
Why mislead people, why give schools false hopes?