The War on Education

Wait … What?

Yes, you read right. You have heard of The War on Poverty, The War on Terror, The War on Drugs, but … The War on Education???

Former East Ramapo school board president Wieder was once accused (by Asst. Supt. Joe Farmer) of starting a war on public education

Now he has formally declared war on the NY State Education Department. This is in response to the updated guidelines on equivalency of education in non-public schools.

The Casus Belli 

There is no doubt that thousands of children are getting almost no education in many yeshivas in East Ramapo and other parts of NY. The Satmar Rabbi has admitted “we all know the truth, that in our primary Torah schools for boys [before Bar Mitzvah] they studied at most an hour and a half, and in the advanced yeshivas [high schools] there were no secular studies at all”

According to the Rabbi, EDUCATION produces “criminals, who commit all sorts of violence and savagery, murder, theft, drug crimes, and so forth”, whereas NOT EDUCATING produces “beautifully ordered families”. He specifically refers to “public school students in New York City”, which appears to be a racist dog-whistle, appealing to the worst stereotypes of young people of color.

Using the Nuclear Option

What weapons will be used in this war? The Rabbi has urged his followers to “employ all connections that we have to those in places of influence” and to take aim at “the leaders of the Democratic party … to explain to them that it isn’t worth it for them. It wouldn’t pay for them to start a war” with ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York.

How You can Support Peace

Of course, you know that education does not increase crime. Quite the opposite. And our elected officials know it too. But they shouldn’t have to stand up to this onslaught alone. They need to know you have their back.

So Power of Ten has created a simple tool that you can use to tell the leadership in Albany that you support the new guidelines, that you support quality education for all children, in every setting, and that you expect the government of the state of New York to honor our constitution’s pledge that every child has a civil right to a sound, basic education. Just click “Send a Message” to get started.

Who’s Next?

Power of Ten Special Update:

New East Ramapo Monitor Announced

With the announcement of a new monitor for the East Ramapo school board, it seems to be an appropriate time to review what has been happening in the district.

Notable Accomplishments

The announcement by the state education department about the new monitor contains a review of “notable accomplishments by the district”:

  • improved fund balance and improved reports from auditors and comptroller
  • capital improvement projects underway
  • full-day kindergarten for all students
  • elementary arts programming

The impact of these accomplishments on the lives of children in the district is admirable and should be applauded.

Information about the work of the monitors is available at:

None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the work of hundreds of activists.  Students, parents, clergy, education professionals all worked to demand action from Albany.  They formed groups such as the Rockland Clergy for Social Justice, Save Our Schools, Padres Unidos, and Strong East Ramapo.  They’re the ones who caused monitors to be appointed, they’re the ones who caused a new superintendent to be hired, they’re the ones who caused the state to increase aid.

The school board fought these changes tooth and nail, just as they fought the NYS Education Department’s oversight of illegal special education placements and the NY Attorney General’s criminal investigation into fraud in the sale of the Hillcrest elementary school.

Increased State Aid

Increasing educational programming costs money, and the accomplishments that the monitors report could not have been realized without increased state aid.  The following table illustrates changes to district revenue from the 2014-15 school year (before the monitor law) to the 2016-17 school year (the latest data available from the state website)

(in millions)



% Change








– 4%





Total Revenue




Measuring Results

One of the objectives the monitors set for themselves in 2016 was to “set clear performance objectives for students”.  It does not seem unreasonable that an organization with a budget of a quarter billion dollars per year, and whose mission is so vital to the community, should be able to demonstrate quantitatively and qualitatively that it’s fulfilling its mission.  However, after this one mention in September of 2016, the word “performance” does not appear again in the monitor’s blog. 

The statistics available on the state education department web site present a mixed picture:

  • Scores on state tests have been improving overall, with the exception of math scores of Latino students, which have remained flat compared to the state average since 2014.
  • Even after modest improvements, only about one quarter of our students are deemed “proficient” by the state, as compared to about half of students statewide.

Graduation rates are not yet available for the school year ending in 2018; they dropped overall between 2014 and 2017:

  • African American students in East Ramapo graduated at about the same rate as others in New York State.
  • The graduation rate for Latino students has fallen further behind, down to 37 percent in 2017!

Factors which are known to be associated with lower educational outcomes:

  • Elementary class size in East Ramapo is higher than the average in New York State.
  • Children with special needs are less likely to be placed in a regular classroom in East Ramapo than the state average.
  • Children in East Ramapo often lead separate lives from their peers of other races (de facto segregation).

The Most Vulnerable

A public education system cannot be measured only by the achievements and opportunities available to those who excel.  It can’t offer math only to those who excel at math or art to those who display talent or gym to those who are physically fit.

There are laws in place which force educational institutions to provide education for all, because there is a long sordid history of educational institutions neglecting students with disabilities, those in need of remedial services, female students and students of color.

There are three groups of students who are the most vulnerable to educational neglect in East Ramapo today.  These are: preschool children, students with interrupted formal education, and students in some yeshivas (Jewish private schools).

  • Many preschool children in East Ramapo are not exposed to a modern early childhood development environment.  The main barrier is economic.  Parents do not earn enough to pay for quality, licensed childcare or for transportation to pre-K programs.  The children don’t understand that this is not their fault.  The result is that the district will spend years trying to undo the damage to the child’s self-esteem.  Knowing the tremendous impact that lack of preschool education is having, the district (and the monitors) should be addressing this issue, starting by stating publicly that it is a problem and proposing plans to address it.
  • Every year, families move into East Ramapo with school age children.  Some of these children have experienced difficulty and hardship, including missing school, sometimes for years.  The technical term is “students with interrupted formal education”.  The district has just as much responsibility to these children as to any other child in the district.  The failure of the district to adequately address the special needs of this group is a major factor in the higher dropout rate over the past two years.  Many of the dropouts are going to work in the same underground economy as the parents who can’t afford early childhood education, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty in our district.
  • Years ago, the administration of the East Ramapo school district made a deal with the operators of some of the yeshivas.  The school district would not enforce the state truancy law which requires that all children receive an education regardless of placement, and the yeshiva parents would stay home on school budget day and not vote the public school budget down.  This secret arrangement was covered up for decades until some of the children who had attended yeshivas began to realize they had been cheated out of an education.  They found themselves unprepared for the job market and unable to provide for their families. 

Reading Between the Lines

What do you see between the lines when you read reports from the NYSED monitors? What are they not saying about the most vulnerable? What are they not saying about the governance of a public school system where most children attend private school?

The monitors will either serve the children or they will serve those who profit from the status quo.  They do not have veto power over the school board, but you, dear reader, have veto power over the monitors through your elected representatives in Albany.

Vote Nov 6

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. New Documentary about Tensions  in East Ramapo
2. Janusz Korczak Conference: Legacy, Pedagogy, Children’s Rights
3. Vote Nov 6

1) New Documentary about Tensions  in East Ramapo

OUTSIDER is a short documentary that explores how activists are fighting for better education for students of both public schools and private yeshivas, fire officials are fighting the widespread epidemic of illegal housing and over development, and long time residents are reflecting back on how exactly this sudden and drastic change occurred.

It is produced by award-winning New York and Boston based filmmaker Noah Graham, who grew up in Rockland County.

You can be a part of this project by supporting it on Kickstarter.

2) Janusz Korczak Conference: Legacy, Pedagogy, Children’s Rights

If you are interested in human rights, children rights, humanistic education or simply want to learn who Janusz Korczak was and how his ideas can help all of us today – this event is for you!

Friday, November 9, 2018
9:00am – 6:00pm
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room, 1219 International Affairs Building (420 W 118th St)

Conference website:

More information about Dr. Korczak:

The Janusz Korczak Association of the USA

3) Vote Nov 6

Tuesday Nov 6 is Election Day. People are constantly being told to vote, that it is a duty, etc., but we rarely hear about the main reason many choose not to vote. It is not due to laziness, busyness or any other personality trait. It is caused by alienation. Alienation is what happens when people don’t feel connected to their community, to their workplace, to their school system. It is a feature of our socio-economic system. Alienation cannot be reversed by guilt trips. It can be reduced by making our institutions less bureaucratic and hierarchical. It can be reduced by spreading access to power and information broadly.

In the September Primary Election, Julie Goldberg, a school librarian, ran a campaign that reduced alienation in our community by involving hundreds of volunteers that talked to their neighbors about our issues. She did not win the election, but our community is a winner because of the way she ran her election.

Julie is now endorsing Senator David Carlucci for re-election to the NY State Senate. This is a very important election because it was Senate majority leader Flanagan that prevented East Ramapo from getting the Monitor with Veto Power that was recommended for our district. Electing Senator Carlucci is important to preventing Senator Flanagan from continuing to run the NY State Senate.

For those East Ramapo residents who live in Haverstraw and Stony Point, a vote for James Skoufis for Senate is equally important to keep the Senate out of Flanagan’s hands. 

Assembly member Ellen Jaffee is also on the ballot, and there has been no elected official who has worked harder to improve the quality of education in East Ramapo.

All of these candidates can be found on the Democratic line, but not every candidate on that line supports quality education for all.

You can find a complete rundown of all the offices and candidates on the Journal News website here:

More info about the election is available from Preserve Ramapo at:

The Secret to Power: Be Informed, Active, Involved

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Educational Equivalence at Issue
2. Last Chance: Guidelines Petition
3. Election Protection

1) Educational Equivalence at Issue


Educational Equivalence continues to be an issue for the general election. Independent Candidate for Governor Stephanie Miner has issued a Press Release criticizing “cynical, transactional politics” that fail to ensure children receive a quality education.

Ms. Miner will be visiting Rockland this Wednesday evening, Oct. 17th, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Suffern for a “Meet and Greet Reception.” All are welcome.

2) Last Chance: Guidelines Petition


The state Education Dept. has delayed release of guidelines for over a year. Power of Ten has set up an easy petition that will send email directly to the commissioner.

Please don’t fail to sign This Important Petition before Oct 23.

3) Election Protection


Have you ever been concerned about the integrity of the election process? One way you can help to safeguard our elections is to be an Election Monitor. NYDLC is offering free training for those who would like to participate in the upcoming election. This training will help you better understand the process, and prepare you to be able to help in any election, including school board elections. Training sessions are about 1 and 1/2 hours long including a Q & A period. Each volunteer gets a copy of the NYDLC 2018 Voter Protection Manual and other resource materials. 

Please use the following link to sign up to volunteer:

Equivalency, Test Scores, Competition

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Equivalency Petition
2. Test Scores
3. Marching Band Competition

1) Equivalency Petition

Education is a civil right guaranteed by the NY State Constitution. Tens of thousands of children are suffering from educational neglect in yeshivas across New York, including many in East Ramapo. The Chancellor of NYC schools has documented that many non-public schools are not providing educational equivalency while many others are not cooperating with efforts to determine equivalency.The Commissioner of Education has delayed releasing new guidelines for educational equivalency in non-public schools for too long. It’s time for us to speak up about these delays. 

Send a message to Commissioner Elia, insisting that she release the new guidelines for non-public schools immediately!

Click here to view the petition

2) Test Scores

The NY State testing and assessment results are complicated. NYSED keeps changing the test, making it difficult to compare year to year. However, the differences among Rockland districts is startling. East Ramapo continues to have the lowest proficiency rates in Rockland, 50% lower than our nearest neighbors.

The Journal News has reported the latest test results here

The monitors assigned by NYSED for East Ramapo for the last three years have never provided a true critical analysis of the reasons for continued low test results and low graduation rate. They have never discussed solutions for the long term systemic problems. We continue to be cajoled and flattered about progress made because we passed a bond to pay for renovations, and for progress made due to the influx of state aid. There is no doubt that these things are helpful. However, the district staff can’t be reasonably expected to provide unbiased criticism of themselves, and so NYSED must provide that information. For most other districts, the information available on the NYSED website is enough, but East Ramapo has monitors for a reason. At this point, there is not much hope that the current monitors will ever do more than their political assignment, which appears to be to give cover to Albany to do nothing.

3) Marching Band Competition

The world famous East Ramapo Marching Band will host a competition at Spring Valley High School on Saturday, October 6, at 6:00 PM.

There are many great events put on by our students all year long. Sporting Events, Concerts, Theater, and more. 

The Marching Band Competition is an event that is sure to entertain and inspire pride.

More details are available on the Marching Band Facebook page.


Promises, Promises

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Promises, Promises
2. Vote Thursday September 13
3. Local Election Information

1) Promises, Promises

According to reports in ultra-Orthodox media, Governor Cuomo promised the Satmar Rebbe in Brooklyn that he “would not interfere” in matters of education in the ultra-Orthodox sector, in return for the support of the Rebbe.

Power of Ten Readers will remember that earlier this year, Governor Cuomo did weaken educational standards at the request of the ultra-Orthodox.

However, his spokesperson would not confirm or deny whether Cuomo made the comments to the Grand Rebbe, and the Governor told Politico that he has no direct role in oversight and he is sure NY will fully enforce the education law for all schools.

The only logical conclusion is that either:

A) The ultra-Orthodox media is misrepresenting what Gov. Cuomo said 


B) Gov. Cuomo is misrepresenting what Gov. Cuomo said.

All of this begs the question “Why would any elected official meet privately with a group that advocates for the educational neglect of children?”

2) Vote Thursday September 13

NY State Primary Election Day is Thursday September 13.

The issues in Albany that directly effect the educational experience of our children are: Funding and Oversight.

On both of these issues, the Democratic-led Assembly has delivered. They have passed bills which fully fund education and they passed the bill for a Monitor with Veto Power for East Ramapo. Assembly members Jaffee and Zebrowski  were tireless in their advocacy for our issues.

On both issues, the Republican-led Senate has not delivered. Their funding bills have failed to meet the court ordered funding amounts and they failed to pass the bill for a Monitor with Veto Power for East Ramapo. Complicating matters in the Senate, Democratic Senator Felder and the “Independent Democratic Caucus” (IDC), which includes our own Senator Carlucci, have not supported the Democratic leadership’s version of the funding bills. 

On both issues Governor Cuomo has not delivered. He has failed to fully fund and he has weakened educational standards. 

Voting by itself is not enough, but it is an essential part of our struggle for Justice in East Ramapo. Power yields nothing without demand. Thursday’s trip to the voting booth is a chance for each of us to say “I am here, I matter, I will not be invisible.”

3) Local Election Information

The most hotly contested race is for NY Senate District 38, where Julie Goldberg is the challenger to incumbent David Carlucci.

There is a lot of good information on local elections from local media sources. 

The Journal News: Carlucci-Goldberg primary: Candidates vying for Democratic mantle answer six questions

Preserve Ramapo: Julie Goldberg for State Senate–Sept 13 Primary

Religious Communities Block School Monitors

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Religious Communities Block School Monitors
2. Help Our Teachers
3. Anti-Semites and Bloc-Puppets

1) Religious Communities Block School Monitors

It’s Deja-vu all over again! 

As reported by Alan Singer of DailyKos: Religious Communities with Ties to Andrew Cuomo Block School Monitors

As it turns out, at the same time that we were fighting for a Monitor with Veto Power for East Ramapo, the NYC school chancellor was asked to monitor education in NYC yeshivas.

Readers of Power of Ten will not be surprised to learn that the same anti-education extremists who advocated against the monitor for the school board for East Ramapo are the same ones who are fighting against a monitor for yeshivas in NYC.

What may surprise some is that our elected officials, as reported by Mr. Singer, have been colluding with these anti-education extremists!

#Yeshivagate is generating a lot of of coverage including the New York Times.

With the September 13 elections around the corner, incumbents who have colluded with anti-education extremists should be worried!

2) Help Our Teachers

The East Ramapo Community Fund for Public Education generates community support to fund teacher initiated enrichment programs and expanded learning opportunities for the public school students of East Ramapo.

Power of ten is asking readers to support The East Ramapo Community Fund for Public Education as this school year begins.

3) Anti-Semites and Bloc-Puppets

Being upset about attacks on education by ultra-orthodox Jews does not mean you are an anti-Semite. False accusations of anti-Semitism are disrespectful to those harmed by attacks on education, and they are disrespectful to all Jewish people.

Being upset about attacks on education by ultra-orthodox Jews is not an excuse for saying things which make Jewish people, including ultra-orthodox Jewish people, feel uncomfortable. Jewish people have a valid reason to fear anti-Semitism, and everyone has a responsibility to guard against it.

Talking about these issues is hard. Sometimes you feel like you own what you say, and sometimes you feel like what you’ve said owns you. That shouldn’t be an excuse for silence, but rather a reason to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, because it’s as hard for him or her as it is for you.

The crisis in East Ramapo has become a hot topic in political debates and election strategies. Accusations of “anti-Semite” or “bloc-puppet” have become part of the political dialogue. Well-meaning voters may find these simplifications to be an easy shortcut. Malicious political operators may find them to be an easy tool of misdirection.

Education helps people to find better ways to express themselves. Education helps people to understand the dangers of racism. Education helps people to make hard political decisions and not depend on using shortcuts.

Power of Ten supports Education for ALL people.

This is an issue that unites people across the political spectrum. Opponents of Education can only win by using a divide and conquer strategy. They lose when we reach out to each other across political divides. This week, find someone who you disagree with about almost everything else, and have a conversation about why quality education for all children is important to both of you.



Unequal is Unconstitutional

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Unequal is Unconstitutional
2. Understanding Our Hasidic Neighbors
3. Depriving Orthodox Children Of Education Hurts Our Communities

1) Unequal is Unconstitutional

Young Advocates for Fair Education has filed a lawsuit to declare as unconstitutional a new law which sets a lower educational standard for Hasidic children.

Until April 2018, New York State required that every child receive an equivalent education.

Without debate, and under threat of stalling the budget and closing state government, Senator Felder inserted this new law as an amendment to the budget.

Governor Cuomo allowed this to happen and continues to insist that the amendment will “balance the unique needs of yeshivas with the high educational standards we require for every New York student”.

Of the thousands of students attending Jewish religious schools in East Ramapo, the large majority attend ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic schools with barely any secular education. The majority of students in 12th grade are not in degree-granting programs. When state tests are administered, the results are abysmal.

Rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution protect the people from opportunistic politicians. The right of a child to an education is a long-settled fact which is enshrined in the New York State constitution. It cannot and should not be undone at the 11th hour in a smoke-filled back room by Senator Felder or even Governor Cuomo.

However, it is the nature of civil rights that they must constantly be fought for. YAFFED has stepped up and filed a lawsuit.  The lawyers are working pro bono, but there are costs that must be paid.

You can help to defend the rights of all children to equivalent education by donating to YAFFED today.

2) Understanding Our Hasidic Neighbors

It is important, when discussing your neighbors, and especially when there are legal and social issues, to take the time to learn something about them. It’s important to remember that our Hasidic neighbors love their children, and have as much right as anyone else to want their children to follow in the traditions of their families.

Shulem Deen, renowned author of “All Who Go Do Not Return“, has written a review of a new scholarly book about the Hasidic religious movement for the Forward. This is an excellent resource for those wishing to have a better understanding of our Hasidic neighbors.

It’s important to understand that every family and every ethnicity in East Ramapo has its own American story, and that is why everyone of us has just as much responsibility to the education of the children as any other one, and why every child has just as much right to education as any other one. In the not so distant past, civil rights were only a dream. Today, we must renew our commitment to the next generation.

3) Depriving Orthodox Children Of Education Hurts Our Communities

The Spring Valley NAACP has been in the forefront of the fight for improved education in East Ramapo public schools. Now, in a letter published in The Forward, Spring Valley NAACP president Willie Trotman and Education Committee Director Dr. Oscar Cohen illustrate the interdependence of all subgroups within our East Ramapo community.

As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.”


Remembering our Champions

Power of Ten Update

Special Edition: Remembering Our Champions

In this special edition, Power of Ten honors two Champions of Public Education – David Lipman and Pedro Santana

David Lipman

Power of Ten marks the one year anniversary of the passing of David Lipman, an East Ramapo alumnus and parent who served his country with honor and distinction in World War II.

On July 12, 2017 he passed from this world, but his words and deeds live on within our entire East Ramapo community.

Read his amazing story here:


Pedro Santana

Pedro Santana came into our district for only a brief time, and yet his influence is still felt today in the hearts and minds of the many people who knew and loved him, more than four years after his death.

Like David, Pedro was on a mission to make the world a better place. David noted that our school board has “poured bitter herbs on the books of these children” instead of honey, and Pedro worked to heal the children of bitterness with the honey of his unforgettable charismatic personality and his prodigious intellect.

Pedro’s story has been immortalized in “My Name is Pedro“, a documentary that explores what public education meant to him – a ‘special ed’ child from the Bronx – and what he, in turn, meant to public education. 

They said NO – You can still say YES!

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:
1. You can say Yes!
2. We cannot afford to turn away
3. Yeshiva Fever!

1) You can say Yes!

The budget vote is over. The “NO’ vote was greater. But you can still say YES to enhancing our students education at the Martin Luther King Center’s Summer Program. The MLK Center has an accredited program that prevents an academic “summer slide” while providing fun and enriching activities and a lifetime of memories for our youth.

You can be part of this positive action for our students by joining us for “Summer, Sand & Soul 2018: A Party with a Purpose!

Sunday, July 29th, 2018 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 701 Piermont Ave, Piermont, NY.

The Kurz Family Foundation has provided a matching challenge grant! By purchasing tickets early you can help ensure that 100% of ticket sales go directly to help the Center.

2) We cannot afford to turn away

East Ramapo’s Education crisis is caused by a social crisis. It is the same crisis which has plagued humanity for thousands of years. Fear of “The Other”. Loathing of “The Other”. Indifference to “The Other”. In the last issue, I tried to outline how these factors affect our community.

I tried, but Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, the life editor at the Forward, has done a much better job!

I highly recommend reading The Jews Who Ignore Immigrants While Employing Them

The Forward is my favorite media outlet. It offers a variety of news and opinion that is not seen anywhere else. I may be biased, because it was my grandfather’s favorite paper too (he read it in the original Yiddish).

Ms. Chizhik-Goldschmidt ends her essay with “We cannot afford to turn away”. Truer words have never been spoken!

3) Yeshiva Fever!

I call it Poetic Injustice. Indifference to the quality of education by one group to another’s children leads to indifference to the conditions for their own children. It’s a kind of passive version of “an eye for an eye”, but the result is the same – the whole world goes blind. 

Writing for “The Progressive” magazine, Jake Jacobs illustrates the connection between those who oppose education in both private and public settings. Not surprisingly, the connection is power and money.

Yeshiva Fever: Religious Schools May Portend What DeVos Wants for the Nation


Budget Re-vote Fails

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Budget Re-vote Fails
2. Socioeconomic analysis

1) Budget Re-vote Fails

East Ramapo public school students will once again be facing an austerity budget as a result of racially polarized voting. Up to 93% of voters in segregated neighborhoods in Monsey, Kaser and New Square rejected the education spending measure. Polling sites that serve integrated areas voted up to 91% in favor of the budget.

So, once again, despite delivering more YES votes than any other school district in Rockland, East Ramapo’s budget did not pass, and there will be significant cuts to programs for children. 

2) Socioeconomic analysis

The majority of families that use East Ramapo public schools are people of color; the largest groups being Latino, African American, and Haitian.  Many of the parents of our public school students work in the service economy in nearby areas that are nearly 100% white. These white neighborhoods are mainly ultra-Orthodox Jewish, and send their children to private religious schools. The public school parents clean the bathrooms, iron white shirts, do the laundry, bag the groceries, mop the floors, mow the lawns, build the houses, serve meals in the schools, etc. The wages are low and the hours are long. When they pay their rent at the end of the month, it’s most often to a white landlord. These are the stark racial and social and economic lines for a large part of our community. 

At this point it’s important to note that ALL members of the above racial, social and economic groups are members of the SAME community. However, there are large differences in power between different groups. Economic power, political power, social power are concentrated in the white part of the community. 

When the white community votes down the budget for the schools that the people of color use, they are not just indifferent to some foreign group. They are cutting programs for the children of the woman who does their laundry. They are laying off teachers of the children of the man who swings the hammer that puts a roof over their head.

These kinds of racial and economic differences are not unique in history, or even in today’s America. But they are stark, insidious and alarming in East Ramapo. People can live with limited opportunity for themselves, but when it appears that opportunities are being denied to their children, they can lose hope. And hopeless people are dangerous.

It has been clear for some time now that the voters in Monsey and Kaser and New Square are not going to wake up tomorrow and decide that the cleaning lady deserves a living wage, or that they might have some shared social responsibility to children with a different complexion or ethnic background. Unless some intervention comes from outside of the district, relations will continue to deteriorate. 



Vote Tuesday

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Vote Tuesday

Tuesday, June 19 is the budget re-vote. 

East Ramapo has seen more budgets voted down than any other district in NY State.

The result is higher class sizes, fewer options, and lower outcomes.

This is unacceptable.

There is also a continuing crisis of trust in East Ramapo.

People do not feel sure that all of their tax dollars are really going towards education.

This is because the school board has been found to be favoring the interests of private religious schools (yeshivas) which are infamous for taking public education dollars but not providing an education to the students.

However, our district also has many hard working staff who love the students and are doing their best under very difficult circumstances.

We cannot afford to let these good people down.

We cannot afford to let the children down.

Even though it can feel like paying a ransom, we have to keep things in perspective.

First, be aware that your school tax is not your whole property tax bill. The proposed increase only applies to the school tax portion. For each $1000 of school tax a homeowner now pays, there will be only $28.90 additional per year. That’s about $2.41 per month.

Second, even though there is still a lot of mistrust, one thing we do know for sure is that a failed budget will cause suffering for the children next year. 

So, we are asking you to take a few minutes on Tuesday, and vote YES for the budget. 

You know we will continue to push hard for more accountability, and eventually for some long term solution to our crisis, so aptly called “A Not So Simple Majority” by This American Life.

Tuesday is a different job, but just as important. Please Vote YES for the budget.

 -Steven White



YES on June 19

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. YES on June 19
2. Rockland Legislature June 12

1) YES on June 19

There will be a re-vote of the budget on Tuesday June 19. There is no doubt that the experience of our children and youth will be better if the budget passes.

Do I need to say more?

Please do not fail to cast your ballot on June 19. The polling places are the same as they were on the first vote last month. call the Clerk at 845-577-6015 if you are not sure where you vote.

2) Rockland Legislature June 12

On Tuesday, June 12th, at 6:30 a discussion and vote will take place at the Rockland County Legislature regarding a resolution to support Assembly Member Ken Zebrowski’s bill A1305.

This legislation will strengthen the NY Education Department’s ability to enforce standards in the education received at non-public schools.

Please attend this meeting, to show support this essential action to protect every child’s right to education.

When: June 12 at 6:30 PM

Where: 11 New Hempstead Rd, New City



Death Threat!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. To Re-vote or not to Re-vote?
2. What Happened?
3. Death Threat!

1) To Re-vote or not to Re-vote?

That is the question that the school board will take up at their special meeting on Wednesday May 23 at 7:00 PM.

To avoid $4 million in severe cuts to our children’s educational resources, Strong East Ramapo strongly urges a re-vote!

Come to share your voice in favor of a re-vote at East Ramapo district headquarters, 105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday May 23.

2) What Happened?

Thank you to everyone who voted in Tuesday’s election — and of course to our amazing candidates for putting themselves out there. In a district with incredibly difficult odds to win, Pastor Jose Cintron and Miriam Moster deserve our thanks. Thankfully, Sabrina Charles-Pierre ran unopposed and will be serving another term!

School Budget Vote Turnout Analysis:

The total turnout for the school budget vote for all districts in Rockland County was 9%. The turnout in East Ramapo was 10%.

East Ramapo is the only school district whose budget failed. It is also the only district that has to contend with a significant “Bloc Vote”. This consists of about half of the registered voters in East Ramapo.

On average, 6% of registered voters in Rockland supported the school budgets. 9% of East Ramapo voters (excluding the block vote) supported the budget. At one East Ramapo poll, YES votes outnumbered NO votes by 6.75 to 1. No other district in Rockland had this level of support.

The Bloc Vote delivered an 1800 vote advantage for a NO vote at 5 polls. If the Bloc Vote was in any other district in Rockland, that district’s budget would also have been voted down.

3) Death Threat!

News 12: Jewish education activist says he received death threat

Regular readers of the Power of Ten know that it’s not only in East Ramapo’s public school system that education is under threat. Power of Ten supports all activists working to ensure every child’s human right to an education. Yaffed advocates for education in yeshivas in NY, including here in East Ramapo.

Those who oppose education for children are often fanatical and sometimes violent.

On May 13, a caller left a voicemail with Yaffed saying plainly “Hi Naftuli Moster, I want to let you know that I am going to murder you, G-d willing; very soon you will be dead and your blood will spill. It’ll be a pleasure seeing you dead. You stupid, dumb, idiot…”

Please respond to this cowardly attack by visiting the Yaffed website, liking them on Facebook, signing their petition, and donating to their not-for-profit organization.


Vote Tuesday

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Vote Tuesday
2. Our 2018 Candidates
3. Pledge Your Vote

1) Vote Tuesday

We can’t always get what we want. But everything we have, we got because someone stood up. The act of voting can be joyous, or it can be tedious, but it should never be disheartening. Every chance you have to hold your head up, to say to the world “I demand to be counted”, is an affirmation of life, an affirmation of all those who have lived and worked for a better world.

Strong East Ramapo has reviewed and endorsed a YES vote for the budget.

For all the info, and how to help, please contact: 

2) Our 2018 Candidates

We have three very inspiring people who are running for school board this year!

They are: Sabrina Charles-Pierre, Reverend Jose Cintron and Miriam Moster.

You can learn all about them HERE

2) Pledge Your Vote

Strong East Ramapo is doing a get out the vote campaign again this year. It starts with you pledging to cast your vote.

Make the pledge HERE


School Board Loses in Court Again

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Where Do I Vote?
2. School Board Loses in Court Again
3. Candidates Forum May 3
4. Campaign Volunteers Needed

1) Where Do I Vote?

A printing mishap has left many East Ramapo voters puzzled and irritated about where to go vote on Tuesday May 15. The district is blaming the printer, who they say was the “lowest responsible bidder”, but a quick web search reveals no functional website, only a Facebook page with just five posts since the company president died in 2016. Did anyone from the district review the level of service? Is sending out correct information to voters a priority? Will anyone be held accountable?

 Voters can look up their polling place on the district website. The district also says it will send new postcards. 

2) School Board Loses in Court Again

The Spring Valley Branch of the NAACP says that the system of voting in East Ramapo is discriminatory. It has joined parents in a lawsuit to force the district to stop using the “at-large” system. At-large voting has historically been one of the tactics most often used to disenfranchise voters of color.

Because the East Ramapo school board refused to voluntarily adopt a system that doesn’t discriminate against voters of color, the NYCLU filed a lawsuit. The board has hired its usual very expensive lawyers to fight to maintain the racially biased status quo. They filed a “motion to dismiss”.

According to the Journal News, the federal judge in White Plains has denied the school board’s motion, and the lawsuit will proceed.

Of course, the board could avoid losing another costly lawsuit by simply following the law and not discriminating against voters of color. 

Is that too much to ask?

3) Candidates Forum May 3

Hosted by the Spring Valley NAACP

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 @ 6:30PM

Louis Kurtz Center
Main Street/Madison Avenue
Spring Valley, NY 10977

4) Campaign Volunteers Needed

You can help get out the word about our wonderful school board candidates. They are: Sabrina Charles-Pierre, Pastor Jose Cintron, and Miriam Moster.

For more information visit their website at


How the Sausage is Made

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. How the Sausage is Made
2. Walk with Our Candidates

1) How the Sausage is Made

Last week, 500 Power of Ten readers signed a petition to Governor Cuomo asking him to reject Senator Felder’s proposal to exempt Hasidic Jewish children from NY State compulsory education law.

What happened? The  Forward reports: Cuomo Called The Rebbe. The Rebbe Prayed To God. The Budget Deal Got Done.

Shulem Deen asks in the NY Times: Why Is New York Condoning Illiteracy?

NY State Education Department now has to answer Mr. Deen’s question, or else change their mission statement to read: “raise the knowledge, skill, and opportunity of some of the people in New York”

2) Walk with Our Candidates

Our candidates for East Ramapo school board are taking to the street, every weekend, to meet our neighbors and talk about the upcoming budget and board election. Please join them! For details, contact Chevon at

To learn about the campaign, and the candidates, visit



Who Opposes Education?

Power of Ten Update


1. Senator Simcha Felder opposes education. He is holding the NY State budget hostage. His demands are that children not be protected from being denied their right to an education.

2. Power of Ten has responded with an urgent petition to Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie, and Senate President Flanagan

Over 300 have already signed. Please sign this time-sensitive petition today, and share it widely.

3. For more information about the children who are affected, see the comprehensive report by YAFFED

Read the executive summary here

Read the full report here


Weekend Events

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. March for Our Lives – Saturday
2. Campaign Fundraiser – Sunday
3. Graduation Rates

1) March for Our Lives – Saturday

On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the lawn in front of The Rockland County Courthouse to demand that their lives and safety become a priority, and that we end gun violence in our schools and communities.

Saturday, March 24, 10:00 AM

Rockland County Courthouse
1 South Main Street
New City, NY 10956

2) Campaign Fundraiser – Sunday

We want to spend the evening with you! Come for the music of Spyro Gyra’s Jeremy Wall and Motherland Rhythms’ Arthur Lorde, hear from our 2018 candidates, enjoy light refreshments, and help us reach our $5,000 goal for campaign supplies. Details and RSVP HERE, donation info and donate online HERE.

East Ramapo 2018 Campaign Fundraiser
Sunday, March 25th, 2018 at 5 PM
The Nagin Residence: 23 Dogwood Lane, Pomona, NY
Featuring Music by Spyro Gyra’s Jeremy Wall and Motherland Rhythms’ Arthur Lorde
Light refreshments will be served

3) Graduation Rates

by Andrew Mandel:

New York State released district graduation rates last month (, and there’s good news — and urgent news. 75% of African-American/Black students graduated from East Ramapo in 2017, which is up from last year and comes close the overall state average of 80% for all students, regardless of background. While we need to keep growing this number, as well as the percentage of students receiving Advanced Regents diplomas (12 percent now), the continued climb is encouraging.

This growth stands in stark contrast to a dire situation with our Latino/Hispanic students, where graduation rates fell from 52 to 37 percent this year (with 7 percent earning a Regents diploma with advanced distinction). We know all children are capable of achieving at high levels! In other districts with large Latino/Hispanic and low-income populations, the numbers are very different: just across the river, 62 percent of Latino students in Ossining — and 81 percent of Latino students in Port Chester (with 22 percent earning an Advanced Regents diploma) – graduated last June. We must therefore understand what is causing our decline, and we ought to determine what programs, services and training are happening in places like Port Chester, so that we can learn how we can concentrate our financial and instructional resources differently. Our 2018-19 budget must reflect these needs. 


Our 2018 Candidates

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Our 2018 Candidates
2. Pledge Your Vote
3. March 25 Fundraiser

1) Our 2018 Candidates

Thanks to much hard work by the candidates from previous years, and all the folks who came to our forum last month, we have three very inspiring people who are running for school board this year!

They are: Sabrina Charles-Pierre, Reverend Jose Cintron and Miriam Moster.

You can learn all about them HERE

2) Pledge Your Vote

Strong East Ramapo is doing a get out the vote campaign again this year. It starts with you pledging to cast your vote.

Make the pledge HERE

3) March 25 Fundraiser

We want to spend the evening with you! Come for the music of Spyro Gyra’s Jeremy Wall and Motherland Rhythms’ Arthur Lorde, hear from our 2018 candidates, enjoy light refreshments, and help us reach our $5,000 goal for campaign supplies. Details and RSVP HERE, donation info and donate online HERE.


Your Signature of Support

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Statement of Support
2. Candidates Forum

1) Statement of Support

Strong East Ramapo has created a statement of support for the NAACP/NYCLU East Ramapo ward system action.

Please go to to register your support for a ward system in East Ramapo.

2) Candidates Forum

Come out on Tuesday, February 6 to a public forum to meet the potential candidates for this year’s school board election.

There are certainly many people in East Ramapo who are qualified to serve on the board. Maybe someone you know? Or maybe you might be interested yourself?

Those interested in being a candidate please fill out This Online Form. Your answers will be shared at the forum.

What: Candidates Forum
When: Tuesday, Feb 6 at 7:00 PM
Where: MLK Center, 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley



Call for Candidates

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Call for Candidates
2. Potential Polling Place Changes
3. Ward System Update

1) Call for Candidates

The school board and budget vote will take place on May 15. Strong East Ramapo will be working hard to get the vote out to pass the budget. Power of Ten will work to identify and assist candidates for the school board positions.

There are certainly many people in East Ramapo who are qualified to serve on the board. 

The Center for Public Education says an effective school board member should:

    • inspire parents and other stakeholders to have confidence in the local public schools
    • enhance the mix of skills and backgrounds on the board and help represent the diversity of the community
    • have the commitment to do what is right for all children, even in the face of opposition

Does this sound like someone you know? Or maybe you might be interested yourself?

Those interested in being a candidate please contact

A public forum will be held in the first week of February for the public to meet the potential candidates.

2) Potential Polling Place Changes

Three years ago, Monitor Walcott recommended that an independent election monitor oversee the election process, including designating new polling places. This did not happen. Last year, two new polling places were proposed by the District Clerk, both of which were located in areas where most children are sent to yeshivas.This was not received well by advocates for more resources for public education. Over the past 3 months, a committee led by the District Clerk has been discussing possible changes. The committee included some poll workers, the NYSED monitor, some opponents of increased resources for public education, and some education advocates, including myself. 

Location of polling places can influence voter turnout. Factors which affect turnout include confusion when the school polling place is different from the November polling place, distance to the poll, and finding parking. These may be reasons that voters in the Clarkstown and Haverstraw sections of the district have the lowest turnout.

I provided the committee with a plan to balance the polls from the very first meeting. 

This plan added polls in Haverstraw and Clarkstown, and moved the main location for Spring Valley voters (who support more resources for public education at a higher rate than any other voters in Rockland) to St. Josephs, which is where they vote in November elections, and also the Hillcrest Firehouse, which is where most Hillcrest voters (also strong public school advocates) vote in the November elections. 

Both the Haverstraw and the St. Joseph’s locations were left out of the plans which were sent to the board. St. Joseph’s was not included in any of the three final options because a concern was raised about Orthodox Jews who may have a religious objection. However, NY State Election Law Section 11-300 allows for voting at an alternative location when  “It is against my religious scruples to vote at a polling place located in a premises used for religious purposes.” This option would only apply to a very few people, if any, based on the areas which would be assigned to the St. Joseph’s poll. 

The final decision is with the board. They could include none, some, or all of the polls which are most likely to be used by supporters of public education. It has been shown that they will listen to public opinion, sometimes.

The next board meeting is Tuesday. Please come and express your preference.

When: Tuesday, January 23 at 7:30 PM

Where: 105 South Madison Avenue, Spring Valley

3) Ward System Update

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) with Latham & Watkins LLP, on behalf of the Spring Valley Branch of the NAACP and other plaintiffs, has filed a law suit in federal court challenging the at-large method of electing members of the East Ramapo Central School District Board of Education. The suit claims the at-large system unlawfully denies black and Latino citizens in the District an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

Under this system, board members are elected by all the voters of the school district rather than voters from individual geographic areas. This allows the majority community—which is white, lives close together, and tends to vote as a political bloc favoring private school education—to control eight of the board’s nine seats. Communities of color, who tend to vote as a bloc for candidates favoring investment in public schools, have not seen their candidates of choice win a contested seat since 2007.

Judge Cathy Seibel of the Southern District of New York is presiding. NYCLU-Latham has requested a preliminary injunction to postpone the scheduled May 2018 board election until after the Court rules on the law suit. The District is opposing the preliminary injunction motion. The Court has scheduled the preliminary injunction hearing (which is similar to a trial) to begin on April 12th. Thus, we expect to know if the Judge intends to halt the election and implement a new voting system in the District before the May 15th elections take place.


MLK Weekend: Where will you be?

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Strong East Ramapo Sunday Supper
2. MLK Day Event at Ramapo High School
3. Statement of Support
4. Education Activist for NY Senate

1) Strong East Ramapo Sunday Supper

Strong East Ramapo is hosting a free dinner where people can learn about the ward system and how we can all work together for better education for all children. Power of Ten will be there too, and we will be asking if anyone is interested in volunteering for this year’s campaign to elect public school supporters to East Ramapo’s school board in May.

When: Sunday, Jan. 14th, 6:00 PM
Where: The Hillcrest Fire House, 371 North Main St. (Route 45), in Spring Valley.

The event includes a free dinner, so please RSVP to, or on Facebook 

2) MLK Day Celebration Monday

The Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center will hold its annual celebration of the life of Dr. King on Monday, January 15th at 3:00 PM at Ramapo High School.

The theme this year is “Our Community, United in Love, Peace, and Justice.”

As always there will be fantastic entertainment, food, and exciting speakers. The event is free. 

3) Statement of Support

Strong East Ramapo is asking you to sign their statement of support for the ward system in East Ramapo. Please go to and add your name.

4) Education Activist for NY Senate

Education Activist Naftuli Moster, the founder of YAFFED (Young Advocates for Fair Education) is considering running for the NY Senate. You can learn all about him and his potential campaign on his Facebook page, or in this excellent article in The Forward.

Education or Incarceration?

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Strong East Ramapo Event Jan 14
2. MLK Day Event at Ramapo High School
3. Statement of Support
4. Education or Incarceration

1) Strong East Ramapo Event

Strong East Ramapo is hosting a a fun event where people can learn about the ward system, meet others, and helped bring about change. Power of Ten will be there too, and we will be asking if anyone is interested in volunteering for this year’s campaign to elect public school supporters to East Ramapo’s school board in May.

When: Sunday, Jan. 14th, 6 pm
Where: The Hillcrest Fire House, 371 North Main St. (Route 45), in Spring Valley.

There will be a free dinner, so please RSVP to by January 7.

2) MLK Day Event at Ramapo High School

The Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center will hold its annual celebration of the life of Dr. King on Monday, January 15th at 3:00 PM at Ramapo High School. As always there will be fantastic entertainment, food, and exciting speakers. The event is free. 

3) Statement of Support

Strong East Ramapo is asking you to sign their statement of support for the ward system in East Ramapo. Please go to and add your name.

4) Education or Incarceration?

In our struggle to improve the quality of education in East Ramapo schools, it has often been said that a failure to educate will result in a need to incarcerate.  This was actually used as a defense in the trial of one local resident, who served eight years in prison for a crime he says was directly related to being deprived of a quality education.

When he took the stand, his defense lawyer questioned him about how the lack of education had led to his becoming a defendant in this criminal trial:

Lawyer: Let’s talk about you. Specifically, let’s talk about your education. How many years of formal nonreligious education did you take?

Defendant: I — I graduated eighth grade.

Lawyer: What other education in the rabbinical or religious sense have you had?

Defendant: Most of my studies, I went to — I went to — are schools that have English — a Jewish program in the morning and then English program in the afternoon. And then I went to high school, a religious program(…).

The defendant, Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, currently of Monsey, NY, served eight years of a 27 year term in prison before being released by President Trump.  The cost to society from the failure to educate just this one individual was high.  There are the millions of dollars spent on the trial and the prison.  There was all the harm to the workers and the town and the company he was in charge of.  He was running a meat packing plant.  Accidents at the plant resulted in amputations.  Child labor was common.  The closing of the plant hurt the town and disrupted the supply of kosher meat throughout the whole country.  All of this caused by incompetence due to lack of education.

Thousands of children still languish in schools that don’t educate. The burden on our society is growing. It is only political will that is lacking. How will future generations judge those who sat by and did nothing? Please support, an organization that is working for better education. Together, we can end the yeshiva to prison pipeline.