OU Calls for “Days of Action,” November 13-15 in NY, NJ to Confront Day School Crisis

23 Oct 2012

Orthodox Union Cites Critical Importance of Individual Participation in “Days of Action” Aimed at Grassroots Effort to Enhance K-12 Education Funding

Calling on its constituencies to take on the role of activists, the Orthodox Union (OU) has announced the launch of a national grassroots mobilization effort to confront the single most important issue facing observant families: The Day School Crisis. The week-long “Days of Action” (November 13-15), culminating with an Advocacy Dinner keynoted by school choice advocate Newark Mayor Cory Booker, will empower and engage families to achieve a solution to the K-12 affordability challenge.

“Sending our children to day school is paramount to the Jewish faith – it preserves our identity and culture, strengthens our community, and most importantly offers children a first-rate education,” stated Dr. Simcha Katz, Orthodox Union President. “Yet, this tenet of our faith is being threatened by current economic pressures, which literally are placing a Jewish education out of reach for middle-class families.”

“Although the OU has been leading the fight for solutions such as tax credits and government support for tuition affordability, there is a need to demonstrate much stronger communal support to engage legislators on this topic – thus the launch of a new grassroots initiative,” added Dr. Katz. “It is vital to the success of this new initiative and to a solution to the crisis that everyone within our own community participates in the events scheduled from November 13 through 15. It’s the best opportunity to become educated, involved, and empowered to act.”

In a series of events, culminating in an Advocacy Dinner at the Sheraton New York Hotel featuring Newark Mayor Cory Booker as Keynote Speaker, participants will engage with leadership from the OU, nationally recognized experts and advocates on school choice, legislators from the respective states, and leaders from other national faith-based and minority organizations who also seek solutions to this crisis. The Week also will feature a rally at the War Memorial in Trenton, NJ on Tuesday, November 13 and an Advocacy Luncheon at the Sheraton New York Hotel on Thursday, November 15. Legislative events and advocacy training will be conducted in Houston, TX on Tuesday, November 13, and Bala Cynwyd, PA on Wednesday, November 14.

It is estimated that a nonpublic education costs approximately $18,000 annually, per pupil. For a family with three children, these educational costs greatly exceed the national median income before even factoring in property taxes and other forms of taxation that fund public education systems. At the same time, a reduction in day-school enrollment – Yeshiva enrollment was down 3-percent from last year – threatens to increase class size and cost in public schools.

“If individuals are going to make a difference in their own lives and that of their families, they must make their voices heard – and that starts with participation in this vital new initiative,” urged Dr. Katz. “We need everyone to attend and participate – to become an activist.”

New Jersey/New York Schedule

What: National “Days of Action”on the Day School Crisis

When: November 13 – 15, 2012

Where: Rally at The Trenton War Memorial – Tuesday, November 13

Featured Speakers: Assemblyman Gary Schaer; Senator Tom Kean, Jr.
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
1 Memorial Drive
Trenton, New Jersey

OU Luncheon and Day of Action – Thursday, November 15
Featured Speakers: James Cultrara, Assemblyman Karim Camara, Robert “Rob” Enlow (Note bios below)
12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sheraton New York Hotel
811 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY

OU Advocacy Dinner – Thursday, November 15
Keynote Speaker: Newark Mayor Cory Booker
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sheraton New York Hotel
811 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY

Featured Speakers for November 15 Day of Action

Senator Karim Camara: For seven years, Senator Camara has represented Crown Heights, Lefferts Garden, and East Flatbush in the New York State Assembly. Prior to his election to the Assembly, Sen. Camara was the Director of Institutional Advancement for the Cush Campus Schools, a pre-K-8th grade independent school located in Crown Heights. Himself a graduate of the Brooklyn Friends Schools – and independent Quaker school for grades K-12 – he understands the contribution private schools make to society. As an ordained minister at the Abundant Life Church in Brooklyn and certified life coach, Mr. Camara believes in empowering individuals and organizations to take control of their lives and communities. As Chairman of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, Senator Camara has sought to expand educational options for all students in failing schools.

James D. Cultrara: Mr. Cultrara has been the Director for Education at the New York State Catholic Conference, representing the Roman Catholic Bishops of New York State since 1996. In this capacity, he serves as the chief advocate for the state’s Catholic school system comprising approximately 600 Catholic schools, 200,000 students and 17,000 teachers. Mr. Cultrara is also the Co-Chairman of the NYS Coalition for Independent and Religious Schools which unites the public policy interests of and serves nearly 2,000 religious and independent schools across the state which educate nearly 500,000 school children and employ approximately 40,000 teachers. He advocates before the New York State Executive branch, Legislature, Board of Regents, State Education Department as well as Congress, The White House, federal agencies including the US Department of Education and other public entities. He also serves on the board of the School Choice Coalition which advocates for enactment of parental choice programs. Mr. Cultrara is the former Assistant Director of the NYS Senate Education Committee with which he was affiliated for 11 years.

Robert “Rob” Enlow: Rob Enlow serves as President and CEO of the Milton Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice — the nation’s preeminent school choice research and advocacy organization. He first joined the Foundation in 1996, and it was largely Rob’s exceptional leadership in the past 16 years that catapulted the Foundation for Educational Choice to the forefront of the national school choice movement. Mr. Enlow authored, co-authored, and edited several books and school choice. He has been quoted or published in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Arizona Republic, National Review, and USA Today. Prior to joining the Foundation, Rob helped manage a charity for homeless families in England and served on the school board for two inner-city London schools that showed dramatic improvement during his tenure. He received his BA from Seattle Pacific University.

For more information on the OU “Days of Action” and other events occurring around the nation please visit the OU Convention website at contact Rina Emerson at 212-613-8110; {encode=”mailto:emersonr@ou.org” title=”emersonr@ou.org”}.

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