Advocacy group sues state over Orthodox Jewish yeshivas

A group claiming some Orthodox Jewish yeshivas don't teach enough reading, writing and arithmetic sued New York state on Monday to force change.

Young Advocates for Fair Education sued in Brooklyn federal court. The group wants more secular education in ultra-Orthodox schools.

A state education spokesman did not immediately comment.

The lawsuit said the state lets yeshivas ignore a law requiring educational standards to be mostly equal at public and non-public schools.

It said an amendment in a budget bill signed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in April enabled certain ultra-Orthodox Jewish non-public schools to receive special treatment.

An estimated 115,000 children attend Orthodox Jewish yeshivas in New York state. Many of the roughly 275 schools provide a full secular curriculum but the group estimates about 83 in New York City and 38 elsewhere in the state do not.

Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools, which is not a party to the lawsuit, issued a statement saying the lawsuit "recycles many false claims about yeshivas that were previously made in Tweets, Facebook posts and press releases."

It said that the New York City Department of Education and the state's education department were familiar with the curriculum in the schools.

"We are confident that those who have made education their lifework will not be swayed by the inaccurate picture today's lawsuit portrays," it said.