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Despite Internet Unease, Brooklyn Yeshivas Get Wired on Government's Dime

By Sonja Sharp | February 19, 2013 4:01pm

BROOKLYN — The largest unregulated school district in America is also one of the best funded when it comes to federal dollars for high-speed internet and fancy smart phones, according to a months-long investigation by the Jewish Week.

According to the report, New York State's Jewish schools received some $30 million in federal E-rate funds in 2011, drawing from a pot of money collected by the FCC and distributed by the Universal Service Administration Company to help outfit schools and libraries with telecommunications and information technology infrastructure. 

Williamsburg's massive United Talmudical Academy received $831,603 through the program in 2011, and requested thousands more worth of services like high speed internet, cell phones and pagers in 2012, the publication noted.

Yet, UTA is among a growing faction within Brooklyn's 84,000-student-strong yeshiva system that fails to teach students even basic secular subjects like English and math as mandated by New York State law, leaving many graduates barely able to send a text message, much less an email, DNAinfo.com New York reported last month. 

The Satmar school wasn't alone — many of the schools named in the Jewish Week report were the same ones that students, parents, teachers and administrators told DNAinfo.com New York failed to provide legally mandated instruction for basic general subjects.