Teach Action Fund seeks to expand access to Jewish education through politics
The nonpartisan 501(c)(4) launched Wednesday morning, aiming to expand on the advocacy of the Orthodox Union’s Teach Coalition
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A new advocacy organization that aims to make Jewish education accessible to children from various socioeconomic and denominational backgrounds, with a focus on political activity, is scheduled to launch Wednesday morning, Jewish Insider has learned.
Teach Action Fund is a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) group established by Teach Coalition, an Orthodox Union-run program founded in 2013 that works to secure government funding in the form of tax credit scholarships in private schools in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida and California.
The move comes as the barriers for public funding of private schools have been lowered in recent years. Earlier this year, Oklahoma approved public funding for a religious (Catholic) charter school –— the first in the nation.
Dan Mitzner, Teach Coalition’s director of government affairs, told JI that Teach Action was established as a way for Jewish day school and yeshiva communities to expand their approach and participation in political activity.
Teach Action Fund will “elevate our Get Out the Vote efforts and will use this new platform to educate the community about our champions in the state legislatures in the states where we operate,” Mitzner said.
“Our ambitions have grown and our ability to make major policy changes in spaces like New York, New Jersey and across the country depend on us evolving as an organization,” Mitzner said.
Like Teach Coalition, Teach Action will work with what Mitzner called the “broadest coalition of schools,” ranging from day schools to Haredi yeshivas.
“That is attractive to decision-makers in state capitals,” Mitzner said.
Teach Action will not give direct campaign contributions to political candidates and will not be a political action committee, the group said. It will, however, have more freedom to take positions in electoral politics.
The organization said it hopes to enlist more than 1,000 new advocates to help advance Teach Action’s priorities in the first year. According to the group, membership in the Teach Action Fund, which starts at $72 per year, will provide exclusive insights and recommendations for members to effectively partner in the organization’s effort.
Maury Litwack, founder of Teach Coalition, said in a statement that the establishment of Teach Action Fund is a “natural evolution.”
“As we continue in our efforts for better, safer and more affordable nonpublic schools, it is essential we have the power and expanded capabilities that Teach Action Fund provides us. Together with our supporters, advocates and legislative partners, Teach Action Fund will continue as we have for the last decade to create positive, vital change for Jewish education and Jewish life overall,” Litwack said.
Yehuda Brum, a parent in New Jersey, expressed enthusiasm about advocacy efforts led by Teach Coalition to fund a bus route in his area.
“Private busing would have cost our family almost $6,000 out of pocket,” Brum told JI. “Busing provided by the borough is a lifesaver.”
In addition to various means of tuition support, Teach Coalition has pushed for issues including school security funding and increased access to STEM instructors. Currently, the group is pursuing a lawsuit on behalf of several California families whose special needs children have not received state-allocated special education resources because they have chosen to send them to private Jewish schools.