Reader-submitted: In response to the sad and painful story of Malky Klein

To whom this may concern:  I am writing this letter in response to the sad and painful story of Malky Klein.

We as a community are facing a BIG problem! After hearing her father speak about Malky, I looked at my husband and cried, if I had grown up in NY then I would have been like Malky.

You see, growing up out of town, the schools worked to accommodate all the students as best as they can, no child is turned away for having a learning disability.

I am a special education teacher and I have taken about 6 years of college courses now in special ed. Many of the methods that I have learned about in school, our Yeshiva and Bais Yaakov schools don’t use.

Why aren’t we using the new methods like RTI-Response To Intervention? The public schools and many day schools have found ways to help students with learning disabilities in the mainstream classroom. It is time for the Bais Yaakov’s and Yeshivas to wake up and realize that they need teachers who are ready to help each student. They need teachers with more training in teaching methods, it does not matter if they are English or Hebrew teachers these methods apply to every teacher.

Children have all different strengths and weaknesses. Some children learn well auditorily and so a teacher who lectures is fine, BUT some kids who need visual aides to learn then if they have a teacher who only teaches through lecturing, they aren’t learning as well as they could be. We say we believe in חנוך לנער על פי דרכו, well this is what it means, we need to reach each student.

It is a huge responsibility for teachers to reach each student, but we have to stop sticking our heads into the sand and pretending it is not a problem. These are all our kids and by not helping them we are hurting them. We MUST educate ourselves in the methods to help reach each of these kids NOW before more of our sweet children suffer.

A concerned Morah.

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  1. Unfortunately, many of us like to blame the internet for all our OTD problems. We are quick to agree that internet is addictive but fool ourselves to think the only solution is to restrict it. Like every addiction, we need a balance of restriction, responsibility and reaching out to suffering souls. Otherwise, much like the suffering soul uses the internet as an escape pill (no matter how much we try to restrict it), so too, when we blame the internet, it is an escape from the real problem. We are looking at the symptom instead of the problem.

  2. How about menahelim and menahelos have to realize that every child has a right to be in school and learn regardless of how well they perform. Schools are not businesses. And they aren’t competitions as to who has the most metzuyanim in their schools!!! There should be a place for every child!!!

  3. A much bigger problem facing Lakewood is that even a basically good kid who isn’t looking for any school related interventions can end up on the street very easily because of the school system.

    If you have a child who was very bullied over many years in school “A” and refuses to return there no other school will accept him. This will result in him being on the streets. I’m speaking from personal experience.

  4. Thats easy – Blame the teachers, Rabbeim, Manahlim & Menahalos. Blame the schools. Sadly, however, the blame lies with us. Me, you & all the parents. R’ Ozery got up at the Agudah Convention, very bravely, and said – publicly -if we dont raise our teachers salaries we will not retain our most talented Educators. I wanna add, even the talented ones, our heros,who are moser nefesh to live their WHOLE LIFE b’dachkus, dont have the menuchas HaNEfesh to think through the proper approach for each & every student, because they have to worry about their 2nd job and how their buying 6 new pairs of shoes in time for the new school year, when they cant even pay their bills each month. So, when you factor the paltry, meager salaries our Rebbes/Teachers are making, our schools are a smashing, off-the-charts success. So, rather than bash the schools, bash the parent bodies, including me, btw, who don’t offer to pay higher tuition so the teachers can make a normal, living wage & we can retain the talent we so desperately need to properly educate our precious talmidim/os going forward. And we should never, ever again hear of another Malky Kklein, a”h.

  5. One thing everyone can and should do is the next time they see a boy/girl who’s nebech OTD etc, instead of snearing at them smile to them and maybe tell them a nice hello. You never know what a small good word can do!

  6. There are no programs in school for remedial needs of students. Especially in high school. This is very needed. And the government helps with this so it should definitely be done. Visual learners need help!

  7. As one cashuve person once said regading the high numbers of OTD aka “off the derech”
    Maybe our derech today is too narrow and thats why we have too many off the narrow derech which “we” created.

  8. It’s sad to say the truth but there is nothing anyone can do about this issue other than the school heads. Until someone forces them to do St, nothing will happen.

  9. If the schools don’t institute alternative education programs then parents may send their children to public schools that do. I have seen this happen in the Toronto/Thornhill community.

    @A Lamdim, it’s very presumptuous and patronizing to label someone OTD as “nebach”.

  10. To lalala and all
    Why does a struggling girl need to go to a different school
    Many times she wants to stay in her own school and maybe the schools should be careful to encourage the fact that how well you do on acedemics doesn’t determine your ability to be a great loving yiddisha mama or how much olum Haba you get maybe schools can find other things the girl is good at and not make her feel like a failure

  11. the people that get far in life are not only the” A ” students but rather we see in the word that people who have struggled through school can really make a difference to the world

  12. My daughter needed intervention. This was before there was any awareness in the frum community. The only place one could get intervention then, in Brooklyn, was P’tach and you were tested by the Board of Ed. In those days children were tested in Public Schools. Luckily, we had one with an all frum staff! In order to be tested one needed a letter of recommendation from the Principal, who refused to give a letter to the Board of a Public school, and threatened to through all my children out of the school. RLT”L, my daughter is not functioning on any level, social or Yiddish! All she had was a learning disability! And the Principal turned her into a OTD druggie!
    Malkie Z”L explained it very well! The drugs takes away the pain!
    Of course there were other factors that played a role in her descent into a life of a living hell, but this was the first, as she was in PRIMARY when I requested the intervention!
    Have the schools learned nothing in 30 years?

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