Rockland County, NY – Chasidic Legislator Defends Much Criticzed School Board in WNYC Radio Interview

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    Aron Wieder, chasidic Rockland County legislator and former school board presidentRockland County, NY – As a follow up to his interview last week with the author of a controversial article that appeared in New York Magazine describing the conflict that exists between the public and private school communities in Rockland County, WNYC (http://wny.cc/13LZgzc) talk radio host Brian Lehrer spoke with a well known member of Rockland County’s chasidic community about the tensions that exist within the East Ramapo School District.

    Much criticism was leveled at the Orthodox and Chasidic communities by Benjamin Wallace-Wells, in his article titled “Them and Them”, which was published on April 21st. Wallace-Wells continued his diatribe against the members of the East Ramapo school board, all of whom are Jewish and send their children to private schools, in a twenty minute interview which aired last week on the Brian Lehrer Show.

    Lehrer gave Aron Wieder, chasidic Rockland County legislator and former school board president, an opportunity to respond to the allegations hurled by Wallace-Wells, whose lengthy article charged that Jewish board members were elected with the sole intention of “starving” and “de-funding” the local school district in an interview which was posted today on WNYC’s website.

    With an estimated 9,000 public school students and over 20,000 private school students, East Ramapo is unique in the country and tensions have continued to escalate within the district as newly elected Jewish school board members have cut programs and curbed tax increases in an effort to curtail what they consider to be out of control spending. Private school parents have deemed the cuts to be unfair and have accused the school board of hijacking the public school system for their own purposes.

    While the East Ramapo school board currently consists of all Orthodox and Chasidic members, Wieder was quick to point out that there will be no private school parents running for any of the three vacant seats that will be filled by the upcoming school board election on May 21st.

    Wieder stressed the need for finding common ground between the two very diverse groups that comprise the East Ramapo school district, quoting the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

    Dismissing the notion that it is unfair for a school board to be comprised of parents who send their children to private schools, Wieder pointed the finger of blame squarely at Albany, explaining that the way the state allocates funding is responsible for East Ramapo’s huge deficit. Wieder further charged that if Albany were to correctly adjust its numbers to accurately reflect the number of private school students, which he estimated to be over 25,000, the district would receive an additional $15 to $20 million which would cover the shortfall and eliminate the need for any cuts in programs or staffing.

    “The injustice done to E Ramapo school district by the dysfunction of Albany needs to end,” said Wieder.

    Wieder also praised State Senator David Carlucci for his efforts on behalf of East Ramapo’s children in both working on a state formula change which would change the way funds were allocated as well as attempting to have the full day kindergarten program reinstated.

    Listen to the full interview here.

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    15 COMMENTS

    1. I happened to be listening to the show this AM and, while Mr. Wieder sounded like a fine guy and said some nice things, he didn’t really say anything of value or substance. He kept talking about finding common ground, and then just blamed everything on Albany.

    2. While we should not be cutting necessary programs at public schools, it is not right for the public school parents to have free reign on increasing taxes and the like.

    3. The private school parents are continuing to subsidize public school students but merely at a lower rate of subsidy, and they have removed the tax burden of educating their own kids from the ungrateful public school parents by putting their kids in private school. So which side is being unfair???

    4. Hopefully, this will get posted. Wieder did not answer any questions but drove rings around the questions. He had great opportunities but kept up a circular argument! So in the end nothing was solved at all. We might as well had Yossi doing the interview. Very disappointed at a lost opportunity to put the community’s best foot forward.

      Luke.

      • Mr. Weider responded directly to comments made by the other caller and to comments by the host. It was abundantly obvious that the host began with a bias against Mr. Weider. Mr. Weider responded calmly and directly to the questions, even when the host try to insist that he had not.

        Even when the caller was trying to spread rumors and lies, Mr Weider calmly called her out on her lies. And he called her out on her her biased remark at the beginning and would not just let it go.

        • Of course Weider responded so calmly. It is very clear, they know what they are doing is immoral, but they have convinced themselves with circuitous lies that they are doing it for good reasons. We saw this same attitude with the Haredi politicians in Israel and only now are they having to pay the piper. The only real question is how the government can solve this abuse of the political system, not whether the abuse has occurred.

            • Calling those sage words says very much about your lack of common sense and nothing about the accuracy of the comment.

              The situation is so far removed from what is in Israel that comparion is moronic. As proven by the person who just put it forth and by the person who called it sage remarks.

      • Then what about the fact that the school board had tried to keep raising taxes? The school is not underfunded- the parents just don’t get all the goodies that they want. Name something that the school is being “underfunded with” and then lets see how necessary it is. How vital it is to get into a college. I have not heard one thing that was not funded that was really that important (vs lets do this so we feel good about our kids, rather than something tested and true)

    5. Yiden we are in golus. I think we have to be more carefull about picking these fights. Yes technically we are right and deserve more services and lower taxes. But if paying higher taxes and recieving fewer sevices results in greater coexisitance with goyim and is more peacefull then we should. This is just the price we pay for golus and it has always been that way. Look at it as a more sophisticated way of shmearing the portiz and galach so they don’t reitz the goyim.

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