In an historic first, Jewish, Catholic and Islamic nonpublic school representatives united as one voice with Teach NYS at the New York State Capitol recently to lobby for an increase in nonpublic school funding and resources.
A member of the Orthodox Union’s Teach Coalition division, Teach NYS is a nonpartisan grassroots movement that advocates for equitable government funding, security and quality education for nonpublic schools in New York state. Through ongoing activism, Teach Coalition works to secure resources for myriad student issues ranging from COVID-19 relief, special education and busing to security and STEM education.
The interfaith partners met with members of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration, including New York Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato, and advocated for $5 million in funding for arts and music nonpublic school teachers and $70 million in STEM funding, which represents a 21% increase from 2022. Teach NYS also advocated for universal free lunches for all students under the National School Lunch Program.
The group holds regular meetings with elected officials and strategy dinners, and participated in a Building Bridges event in December sponsored by Teach NYS, the Orthodox Union and the City & State media organization, where members of various faith communities shared common challenges, solutions and goals.
Teach NYS executive director Sydney Altfield said the coalition traveled to Albany as a united front to take their work a step further and show legislators during the busy budget season that an entire coalition of nonpublic schools—not just Jewish ones—will benefit from the funding.
“Many times, we feel alone in our struggles, that only our community is challenged by tuition,” said Altfield. “The reality is that every nonpublic school struggles. This funding is critical for strong and affordable education for all students. At the end of the day, we’re in this together. And when we unite in this fight, we will succeed.”
Khadijah Jean Pryce, Ed.D., principal of the Islamic Cultural Center School in Manhattan, said: “I greatly appreciated Teach NYS organizing the meetings because I’m a firm believer that no one can save us but us!” Pryce added that she, along with staff and parents, plan to maintain regular contact with state legislators to ensure their interests are represented on the issue of nonpublic education.”
Daniel Dougherty, president of Cristo Rey New York High School, a Catholic high school in Manhattan, stated: “Spending time with our leaders in Albany provided a valuable opportunity to voice our common interests and advocate for the students in our care. Listening to our representatives’ perspectives was informative. Being in conversation with one another will deepen our mutual understanding.”
Executive Director, Teach NYS