Last week, the co-chairs of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State, Barbara Zaron and Joel Elliot, sent letters to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on critical education issues.

The letters focused on the education incentives investment tax credit and the NY DREAM Act, which had been linked in the budget before it had been removed shortly before the budget was approved at the end of March.

RJV has long taken a strong stance against the education incentives investment tax credit, not only because it is bad for public education, but because it endangers our core value of the separation of church and state. As the letter states:

“A central principle of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause is that members of particular faiths, and not the government, should fund religious institutions. We are also concerned that religious schools count on their students’ receiving these tuition funds could lose their autonomy because with government money comes government rules and regulations. Such control would not be beneficial for either religious organizations or the government.”

We were disappointed that a version of this bill passed the Senate in January, and that this problematic legislation was linked to the NY DREAM Act. The DREAM Act is important legislation that would encourage educational opportunities for the children of undocumented immigrants. We were pleased that the Assembly has taken action and passed the DREAM Act, but this bill still has a long way to go through the Senate and to the governor. The RJV letters to these state leaders explains that:

“[The] NY DREAM Act would ensure that undocumented students who came to the United States when they were very young could access higher education and help young people access greater educational opportunities and have a better chance at achieving the American Dream. Leviticus 19:33-34 reminds us, “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Our support for the NY DREAM Act is reflected in these teachings.”

Read the full letters here: