Yeshivah Principals Join for Roll-Out Of New General Studies Curriculums

At the curriculum training. (CJ Kramer)
At the curriculum training. (CJ Kramer)

Over 75 principals, administrators and educators gathered for an introductory training session in newly updated math and language arts lesson plans set to be introduced to yeshivos throughout New York City in the coming school year.

The gathering was the first public event in efforts to introduce Core Curriculum and greater standardization in the general studies programs of our mosdos. The initiative is being organized and facilitated by Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools (PEARLS). PEARLS is an organization recently founded to facilitate greater coordination among city yeshivos as well as to advocate for the right of Orthodox institutions to continue teaching independently and according to their beliefs.

“We are proud of our determined quest to fuel students’ academic growth and ensure our yeshivos remain shining pillars in our communities as they have for more than 60 years,” said Rabbi Moshe David Niederman, chairman of the United Jewish Organizations (UJO) of Williamsburg, one of PEARLS’s leading members. “This effort reflects a joint commitment to the continued improvement of these sacred institutions, and the fundamental right of parents to choose a yeshivah education for their children.”

The event took place last Wednesday at Bais Rochel in Williamsburg and ran for six hours. It was addressed by Dennis Desormier and Andrew Ordover, both nationally recognized experts in Common Core.

One of the underlying principles of teaching according to Core Curriculum standards is focusing education on a conceptual understanding of math and language rather than basing learning on technical skills.

One section of the presentation introduced educators to the advantages of the system, which advocates claim gives students a far deeper understanding of the subjects they are learning. The rest of the gathering was dedicated to training educators in techniques of teaching math and language according to Common Core’s principles.

PEARL’s curriculum committee is led by Richard Altabe, who has over 30 years of experience in educational management. When students return to yeshivos in the coming weeks, teachers will be aided by carefully designed syllabuses with goals for classes to reach on a daily and weekly basis. New workbooks and support materials have been ordered as well.

Last week’s session was focused on introducing new standards to principals. Additional sessions are planned over the coming weeks for teachers.

Rabbi Mendy Balkany, principal of Beis Hillel Krasna of Boro Park, attended the session and has been active in efforts to revamp curriculums.

“Presenters warned us that even after massive training that was given to the public school teachers, Common Core’s roll-out was very challenging. It’s natural to expect an adjustment period, but by focusing on younger students we hope that they will adapt faster,” he said. “What’s most important is that there is a new collaborative spirit in many schools. There is a renewed energy and commitment to constant improvement. These are not changes that are coming down the line; they’re real; we already have the curriculums.”

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