Agudath Israel Representatives Attend National Summit for Education

PHOTO: Agudath Israel of America this past week sent three of its regional directors, leading advocates for school choice, to the National Summit for Education Reform. The summit, which took place in Washington DC on November 27-28, brought together hundreds of participants from 46 states. Panels and discussions highlighted the latest research, pilot programs and proven policies in education reform.

Representing Agudath Israel at the summit were: Rabbi Moshe Matz, Executive Director, Agudath Israel of Florida, Rabbi A.D. Motzen, Ohio Regional Director of Agudath Israel of America, and Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, Director, Agudath Israel Mid-Atlantic Region.

Rabbi Sadwin noted that, as usual, the conference featured the country’s foremost experts and provided intriguing and thought-provoking sessions on today’s most relevant education reform topics. He said, “By participating in these national conversations and utilizing the networking opportunities, we are then able to bring what we learn back to the education advocacy coalitions in the states we serve… Assisting the Jewish schools in our communities is one of our core missions and these conferences provide us with many of the tools necessary to make that mission successful.”

Rabbi Matz agreed. “Agudath Israel stands in the forefront of the fight to expand school choice throughout the country. By attending the conference we can ensure that our needs and concerns are heard and we can continue to be a positive force in this endeavor.”

The summit was run by the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and is the brainchild of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who oversaw many reforms to the Florida education system during his tenure as governor.

One of the highlights of the summit was a panel discussion between former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education Joel Klein. The panel, moderated by Dr. Richard Haas of the Council on Foreign Relations, focused on why our failure to adequately educate all children poses a national security risk. They stressed that this is a problem for every American citizen.

Mr. Klein warned that if we don’t fix the education crisis, “we will see the American Dream turn into the American Memory during our lifetime.” In order to succeed, Klein said that we need leaders like Indiana’s outgoing state superintendent, Tony Bennett, who are willing to do what’s right for students, whatever the political consequences.

Both panelists agreed that “choice and competition” in K-12 education was the single most important solution to the crisis.

Rabbi Yehiel Mark Kalish, National Director of Government Affairs for Agudath Israel of America, said, “Agudath Israel is proud of its long-standing relationship with Governor Bush and his foundation. Under the leadership of Patricia Levesque, FEE once again secured a great lineup of panelists and keynote speakers.”

Following Wednesday’s keynote address by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, the final audience question was asked by Rabbi Motzen. “Next year, about half of all Indiana students will be eligible for a private school voucher. What advice would you give to elected officials who are deciding between the broad Indiana model and a program limited to a geographic location or students attending a failing public school?” Governor Daniels responded with a sharp message, “Go big, or go home.” TLS.

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  1. We do not need these people to meet with the BOE. The BOE is already privy to the solutions–unless it is your goal to enlighten the Aguda to my work over the last seven years.

  2. I’ve been thinking that if the entire town signed up for public school as it is our right to do so( with no intention of actually going), we would see the vouchers in our hands ( and other private schools around the country) so fast, we would wonder why we waited this long.
    Rabbi Lang? Anybody care to comment? What do we have to lose?

  3. Please email me at: [email protected]

    I will send you a condensed and updated version of my working document.

    My goal is to get the administrative authority to advocate for our kids and young people. We need an insider who can see beyond the four walls of the district organization.

    As for everyone registering for the public schools, #7, that would eventually make us eligible for about $300 million a year in state aid (the SFRA only allows increases of 10% or 20% each year). I have not yet found a jurisdictional hook that would entitle the district to full state funding for serving elementary school kids in the place of their choice, but as far as high school students, the source is N.J.A.C. 6A:8- ‐5.1(a)2. Either way, we have authority to bring education to all our kids under Alpert v. Wachtung, 13 N.J.A.R. 110 (1986) without the students registering and entitling the district to full state funding.

    We will succeed, as justice is our cause. I will fight in both the courts of law and the court of public opinion for our young people.

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