Virtual Charter

By A. Lang. I am looking to form a Board of Trustees for a virtual charter school that will bring free English education for the children of Lakewood. Charter schools are Local Educational Agencies independent of the local school district. A virtual charter is a mixed program of distance education course materials, which can be site-based without Internet, and real-live classroom instruction. It is the jurisdictional hook to legally provide our K-12 children with teachers, and special education and support personnel for free in their mosdos.

Three yeshivas have used this model. Yeshiva Ohev Shalom in California is currently using a virtual charter school to provide their whole English program. Yeshiva Toras Chaim in Florida is using the Florida Virtual School for some of their students. Mosdos Ohr HaTorah in Cleveland had the largest and most encompassing program, serving several hundred students, although it was discontinued. This Ohio mosod received free teachers and lessons from the Virtual Community (Charter) School in 2003. Its director reported that he ran into intense political opposition, received no Jewish community support, but faced no legal obstacles. He agreed with me that this arrangement would be and has been shown to be successful in the political climate of recent years.

I have written legal opinions of how our local district can bring free high school English to girls, and to boys in non-mainstream yeshivas and outside the tachum or whose parents so request, all in the place of their own choice; free professional courses for adult young women; opportunity to learn a trade or to earn an adult diploma for adult young men; separate gender vocational, professional and drivers’ education classes after school and evening hours, or during bein haz’manim; and professional development for private school teachers. The advantage of using the district to serve the people of Lakewood is local control and discretion over all programs. Unfortunately, rather than working with me, or even talking to me, about solving the tuition, state funding and educational opportunity problems, the new board cut off all progress and accommodations made over the last two years toward those ends.

The charter application process is rigorous and time-consuming. Unlike my district proposals and former initiatives, charter approvals are under the discretion of the state. Additionally, the virtual model has not yet received legislative approval, although the Department of Education is pushing for it. The state wants to bring free education to more students in New Jersey by expanding the number of charters. If we present our case with care and diligence, I am confident that the state will accommodate our multitude with a charter once the law is modified.

The Legislative Joint Committee on Public Education will be holding hearings in late February on virtual charters. Charter applications are due on April 1. Members of a board of trustees applying for a charter should not have any role in managing a mosod to avoid any conflict with the Establishment Clause. I will also need supporters to accompany me to Trenton to testify about how a virtual charter will help Lakewood. I can be reached through TLS.

This content, and any other content on TLS, may not be republished or reproduced without prior permission from TLS. Copying or reproducing our content is both against the law and against Halacha. To inquire about using our content, including videos or photos, email us at [email protected].

Stay up to date with our news alerts by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

**Click here to join over 20,000 receiving our Whatsapp Status updates!**

**Click here to join the official TLS WhatsApp Community!**

Got a news tip? Email us at [email protected], Text 415-857-2667, or WhatsApp 609-661-8668.


  1. Bad idea. A student is created by virtue (no pun intended) of a teacher. No machine will ever replace the human touch. Surely the unique priceless entity of a child’s mind can only be entrusted to the care and principles of the human emotion and instinct.

  2. How can it be justified to take jobs away from Lakewood women? I wouldnt want my children to miss out on the personal attention they receive from their English teachers. Let this be utilized for adult education.

  3. Private schools are in existence to concentrate a thought transfer process between very selective teachers, philosophy, or religious tenants to students of that school.

    All private and religious educational instruction includes these principals. When one introduces outside influences and/or secular instruction into the private school classroom, it invites outside views and accepts them as part of the educational process.

    The next step is attending Public Schools with religious training as an after-school activity. This is what many other religious organizations have done, resulting in a lesser religious viewpoint and a greater tolerances for outside influences.

  4. There should be a better explanation of exactly how the virtual charter school will work without internet if based on distance learning.
    The idea of of a Charter School is not new in Lakewood and should be explored. I think the writer should explain himself a bit better.
    Thank you for this proposal Mr. A Lang

  5. Very true. I have been a teacher for 17 years. However, some children cannot attend the pubic school and otherwise have no opportunity for high school education. Should we deny them the chance?

    Two years ago, a young man whose school did not provide mathematics beyond the pre-Algebra level ,asked me to enroll him in an LHS distance course. The request was denied by the central office. I researched the law and presented my case to the board attorney and superintendent in the summer of 2011. They granted me permission to enroll part-time students. Several non-public students took courses in our program. Indeed, together with LHS students taking their distance courses on the LHS campus, we awarded credit in about one thousand courses. One fully-enrolled regular LHS student took all her courses at home at the request of her parent and the superintendent. The program was cancelled last August and she dropped out of school.

    Attending a brick and mortar public school is not suitable for every child. Why cannot student take courses at home or in their sectarian institution? Who are we to deny them access to education?

  6. to leah: the english teachers in the private schools are very nice but most of them don’t have any real training. when your daughter goes out into the real world for a job and can’t get one because her english isn’t up to par then what are you going to do.
    in the boys schools there english classes in some schools is a joke. the teachers have no training there for the boys only get minimal english skills. Not every boy is going to sit and learn for the rest of their life. to get a job you need to have proper english, math, reading and writing skills. no one is going to hire a person who doesn’t have these subjects mastered. there needs to be training in our schools for our teachers. so that they can properly teach our children to be able to succeed in the future.

  7. Mr. Hobday, you wrote, “When one introduces outside influences and/or secular instruction into the private school classroom, it invites outside views and accepts them as part of the educational process.

    The next step is attending Public Schools with religious training as an after-school activity. This is what many other religious organizations have done, resulting in a lesser religious viewpoint and a greater tolerances for outside influences.”

    What is the big fear of “outside views and influences”? After all, can’t new ideas sometimes be beneficial? Perhaps it is a two way street? Maybe the private school views, influences and processes may rub off on the public sector and be a beneficial learning experience. Why so scared? Why do people have to be sheltered from the outside world?

  8. The word “Leah”, like all names, is capitalized.

    Regarding your “minimal english skills”:

    The first word of a sentence has to be capitalized. The word “English”, like the names of all languages, is capitalized.

  9. Yes. I have a law license in NJ and and I will be swearing in (affirming in) for NY next month.

    Also, I want to reiterate, the virtual model is the jurisdictional hook for real teachers. The NJ Virtual Charter School that was already initially approved but awaiting the committee findings plans on using a model of sending teachers out to various locations about twice a week for in person student teacher interaction.

    The virtue of the virtual model is that it brings the class to the student (including in-person teachers) rather than the student to the class. The other alternative is for a traditional charter to rent space in a mosod in the afternoon for its classrooms. That might be done, but even if it were to overcome constitutional challenges, the state will never approve because of concerns over discrimination. Although a charter can have separate gender classes, it cannot have classrooms that separate students with respect to religion.

  10. While this may not be a great idea for elementary-age children, I think its a great idea for the mesivas. Right now, most of them don’t offer any secular education at all. They should have a choice: stay in yeshiva for 2d seder or go home & get some type of secular education. That’s Mr Lang. Hatzlocha rabbah. D. B.

  11. To A Lang
    “Although a charter can have separate gender classes, it cannot have classrooms that separate students with respect to religion.”
    You are absolutely right and for that reason (which I agree with ) it is a dead end issue , once we start changing the very basic principles that this country was founded on we are in deeep trouble .
    Quote “I am confident that the state will accommodate our multitude with a charter once the law is modified”
    it appears you are looking to allow only one religious following to attend your virtual charter schools, that crosses the line unless it is privately funded institution

  12. Hello Mr. Lang, I’m a teacher and the director of educational technology in a high school in Brooklyn. I am also a community member with children in our Mosdos and I have been promoting such an idea for a while now. I would love to get in touch and devise a proper plan going forward. What is the best way to connect?

  13. To answer, #12, this is a service that would be provided to everyone, no matter where they are located. Charters are not allowed to be selective in their students. If more students apply than the charter has space, they have to conduct a lottery. A virtual charter, of course, can have unlimited capacity.

    Again, the reason why the virtual model is the solution is because it serves the student in the place of his or her choice.

    I am not familiar with any ruling that prevents a virtual charter from serving students in a sectarian setting. I will cite from several states, whose laws of course, cannot violate the Establishment Clause.

    Florida DOE website: Courses are free to Florida middle and high school students, to include public, charter, private, and home school students.

    South Carolina: “A public, private, or homeschool student residing in South Carolina who is twenty-one years of age or younger shall be eligible to enroll in the South Carolina Virtual School Program.” S.C. Code Ann. § 59-16-15.

    Mississippi: “Any student who meets state residency requirements may enroll in the Mississippi Virtual Public School.” Miss. Code Ann. § 37-161-3.

    Missouri: “Nothing in this section shall preclude a private, parochial, or home school student residing within a school district offering virtual courses or virtual programs from enrolling in the school district in accordance with the combined enrollment provisions of section 167.031, for the purposes of participating in the virtual courses or virtual programs.” § 162.1250 R.S.Mo.

    I can be reached through TLS.

  14. I am not at all concerned about my childrens abilities to make a parnossah later in life. I send my children to schools with decent English departments. I can (and do) easily compensate in this area by teaching them the extras they ask of me. I believe that with any child, an extra dose of confidence does wonders for their learning in all areas. After a hefty dose of Limudei Kodesh learning in the morning, it can be difficult for some children to pay attention during English class. These are issues most often addressed by the English teacher. If there is no teacher, the children lose. Problems easily addressed by the teacher are not, therefore lessening the quality of their learning, even if the lessons given are on a higher level. Like I stated before, this is a wonderful opportunity for adult learning, but our children need and deserve more attention than this is offering.

  15. #15. My intention is a mixed model sending out a live teacher to each student for one or two hours a week. Five students together would have ten or fifteen hours. I thought I was clear that this would be the jurisdictional hook of getting free English.

    But regarding the purely virtual model, that is still better than nothing at all. There is no amount of money and no place to give a boy a high school education.

    Concerning adults, I arranged with the LHS principal and LHS teachers in early 2012 to conduct free professional courses. This would have cost Lakewood taxpayers $120 a week for each course that might have served 60 people. We have the equipment, knowhow and supplies and they just sit dormant after school hours. I never got the necessary approval from the superintendent.

Comments are closed.