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Demanding Answers: De Blasio Says Issue Of Substandard Education At Yeshivas 'Must Be Resolved'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted Monday night that some yeshiva students are not being taught the basics.

But how soon Hizzoner will fix the problem remains to be seen. CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer was demanding answers Monday.

"The issue must be resolved," de Blasio said.

De Blasio was talking about charges of poor education at some yeshivas, and a complaint filed against the city to force the schools to comply with a state law that non-public schools provide education "substantially equivalent" to public schools.

The mayor's comments were an admission that the problem exists, Kramer reported.

"There's a full investigation going on," de Blasio said, "and there's a series of discussions going on with yeshivas to address that problem. It will be resolved."

There was no indication when things would change.

"I want the changes that are necessary to happen, and to be bought into, and to actually reach children," de Blasio said.

That did not sit well with Natfuli Moster, executive director of the group Young Advocates for Education, which filed a complaint over two years ago. Moster himself was the victim of poor secular education.

"In elementary school and some of middle school, we received approximately 90 minutes of secular education," Moster said last week. "In high school, we got no secular education at all."

On Monday, Moster issued a statement on de Blasio's remarks, "Saying 'changes' will be coming 'soon' is meaningless when changes could simply mean updated curricula on the books but not in practice or updated shiny books that are never used."

Kramer: "The complaint was filed against 39 yeshivas two years and three months ago. In that time, DOE, despite saying it would take a month, has gone to only six yeshivas. If this was a public school that was out of compliance, would you have found that to be acceptable?"

De Blasio: "Well, they're apples and oranges. We don't run the yeshivas. We don't private schools."

Kramer: "But they get all kinds of city money."

De Blasio: "Let me make the point. We want to achieve lasting change. We need to come up with an approach that will change this once and for all."

A spokesman for the group that represents the yeshivas – Parents for Education and Religious Liberty in Schools – said the schools had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade its secular education and purchase new books.

"We are proud of the education our children are receiving," the spokesman said. But he insisted, "Ultimately, parents must have the right to choose how their children are educated."

The mayor said: "I don't want a Band-Aid. I don't want a superficial fix. I want a lasting fix."

He added, "It's not going to be much longer" before something happens.

A spokesman for the yeshivas confirmed that talks with the city have been ongoing. There was no comment Monday from the Department of Education.

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