State Regulation of Curriculum in Private Religious Schools: A Constitutional Analysis
Aaron Saiger, State Regulation of Curriculum in Private Religious Schools: A Constitutional Analysis, in Yeshivas versus the State of New York: A Case Study in Religious Liberty in Education (Jay Greene & Jason Bedrick eds., Rowman & Littlefield) (2020 Forthcoming)
18 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2020
Date Written: April 21, 2020
State governments, which closely regulate many aspects of private school operations, often require private and public schools alike to provide instruction in designated subjects. Religious private schools that resist such regulation often raise claims based upon both substantive due process and free exercise. Neither variety of claim precludes states from requiring private schools to adhere to legislatively or administratively determined secular courses of study. But there are limits. State regulation cannot be so all-encompassing that it prevents private schools from meaningfully pursuing their private educational goals, including but not limited to religious goals.
This chapter is part of a book-length treatment of a dispute in New York State between a State Department of Education taking a newly aggressive posture towards curricular regulation and private religious academies serving the state’s rigorously Orthodox (“haredi”) Jewish communities. The chapter uses that conflict to develop its argument. The chapter then considers a distinction between impermissible regulation of private schools’ educational methods and permissible regulation of courses of study. Several of the topics that have been particularly contentious in the conflict between New York and the haredi schools, notably regulation of the language of instruction and of time in class, illustrate how difficult this distinction can be to draw.
Keywords: religious schools; private schools; parochial schools; regulation of religious schools; curriculum; yeshiva; free exercise; First Amendment; substantive due process; educational liberty; school choice
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