On May 17th, Yeshivat Shaare Torah was treated to a special visit by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Over 300 people gathered at this major event, where the governor addressed a community issue that hits close to home.

“There is nothing more important today in my job – or in my life as a parent and a citizen – than education,” the Governor said.

During his address, Governor Cuomo introduced the Parental Choice in Education Act, a bill which would provide tax credit to parents who choose to send their children to nonpublic schools.

This year, over $20 billion was invested by the state into public schools – the largest amount to date. These funds, which are used to invest in well-performing teachers, and in the students, come from tax money paid by parents throughout the state, even by those whose children attend non-public schools, such as religious schools, charter schools,
out-of-district schools, and private schools. New York State has never addressed the financial burden borne by these parents – who pay taxes to fund public schools, and tuition to their children’s private schools – until now.

Governor Cuomo has joined Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Councilman David Greenfield, and reputable community leaders and rabbis in encouraging non-public school parents to rally for the Parental Choice in Education Act. The Governor firmly believes that parents and children should have the option to choose their preferred type of school, based on the learning system the child needs. Governor Cuomo declared, “This is about fairness and this is about parents choosing the school that is right for their children.” Shaare Torah students held large posters and bright signs, showing their support for the right to choose their education.

The Parental Choice in Education Act will be a system granting a total of
$150 million in tax credits to those who need it most. Parents who pay private tuition will be credited by the state for a portion of the tuition bill that they pay.The act also provides a tax credit to the families who donate to tuition assistance programs or school scholarships, and to low to mid income families attending private schools. In addition, teachers in public and non-public schools will be granted a credit for supplies being brought into the classroom out of pocket.

The Governor emotionally remembered his father, Mario Cuomo, a strong supporter of the Jewish community, and of this education bill. Councilman Greenfield and Assemblyman Hikind heaped praise on the  late Governor, whom Shaare Torah Headmaster Richard Altabedescribed as “a friend of our Jewish community and staunch defender of the State of Israel, having traveled to Israel during last year’s Gaza War.”

Mr. Altabe continued, “We are grateful and encouraged by the Governor’s support of yeshiva education and the honor he bestowed upon us by announcing his bill at our school. We hope to be able to celebrate the passage of this historic bill in the near future.”

Governor Cuomo insisted that the community’s voice is louder and more powerful than that of the state legislators, and beseeched the public to visit the website InvestInEd.org, which explains the bill in full detail. Visitors of the site can enter their zip code and email the assembly member and representatives of their respective areas to express support for the bill. The website also allows visitors to call their assembly member to help advocate for the Parental Choice Education Act.

Community Magazineurges our readers to please visit InvestInEd.orgto help pass the bill, which will, with Gd’s help, bring considerable financial relief to many families throughout the community.