New York state Assemblyman and Chair of the Committee on Education Michael Benedetto visited Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy, an Orthodox Jewish day school in the Riverdale area of the Bronx, where he praised Jewish education.

“I’ve been to many Jewish day schools on a variety of visits as part of my job and it’s my delight. It’s always been a good experience,” he said.

During the visit, which was co-hosted by the Orthodox Union’s Teach Coalition, Benedetto called for increased funding for Jewish schools, especially for STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math).

“We’ve got to give more money to these schools, especially the STEM programs,” the state lawmaker told the Orthodox Union. “Because these kids are alive. They have lights in their eyes, they’re learning. Schools should be educating the leaders of tomorrow; the people who are going to advance our society’s wonderful achievements in the future, in science in particular.”

He explained that he believes that vibrant private schools have an important place in New York along with public schools.

“I went through a private school education. For better or for worse, I think mostly for better, there are elements in both that work,” he said. “We all know children have so many different needs and it’s so important to identify the needs of individual students and to teach them accordingly."

Benedetto, who had a nearly four decade teaching career before going into politics, described his visit to the school in glowing terms, stating that Salanter Akiba Riverdale is “something you’ve never seen before in a school.”

“This school is open. Kids are roaming around every which way, good noise is coming out from all areas, and it’s all blending wonderfully. The kids are not disrupted; they’re learning, they’re interested. It’s a wonderful thing to see,” he said.