Betsy DeVos toured two Orthodox Jewish schools on her first official visit to New York City. Having attended religious schools herself, she supports vouchers for religious education.

Orthodox yeshivas have been in the news lately because critics charge they spend disproportionate time teaching Yiddish and religious studies and ignoring English, math, and science.

DeVos demonstrated is her contempt for any separation between church and state. There is no other way to interpret an official visit by the U.S. Secretary of Education to two religious schools while ignoring the city’s public schools.

The leading critic of yeshiva education, Naftuli Moster, is a graduate of one of them. He protested DeVos’ visit, which undercut his efforts to force the state and city to require at least some English-language instruction at yeshivas.

Critics said the Manhattan girls’ school — which costs roughly $20,000 a year — was not representative of less-polished yeshivas, 39 of which are being probed for inadequate curriculums.

Naftuli Moster, a longtime detractor of ultra-religious yeshivas, protested at DeVos’s visit Tuesday. The activist praised the Upper East Side school for its curricular balance — but said Zwiebel was purposefully presenting DeVos with an outlier to mask the true scope of the problem.

“He brings Betsy DeVos to this high-performing school,” Moster said. “But Agudath Israel is not bringing Betsy DeVos or other government officials to the yeshivas that really need a ton of improvement.”

Moster said 9 out of 10 Hasidic boys’ high schools offer no secular education at all, noting that Agudath Israel lobbyists aligned with state Sen. Simcha Felder to relax scrutiny of yeshiva teachings.

Smiling students massed at the school’s windows and waved goodbye to DeVos on Tuesday as she made a beeline for an awaiting SUV.

Moster was born in Brooklyn, one of 17 children, and Yiddish was his first language. He attended an Orthodox yeshiva that frowned upon English, mathematics, and science. He has become one of the most prominent critics of the religious education he received and that Secretary DeVos wants taxpayers to fund. He founded a group called YAFFED, Young Advocates for Fair Education, to press the state to require yeshivas to provide a balanced curriculum that includes secular studies.

Moster criticized the recently concluded state budget, which relaxes state oversight of yeshivas and allows them to skip secular instruction. Because the State Senate is equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, the balance of power is held by one man, Simcha Felder, who represents the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, who do not want English taught in their private schools.

Last month, another graduate of Yeshiva education, Shulem Deen, wrote a powerful critique in the New York Times of Orthodox schools that refused to teach English, mathematics, or science. It was titled “Why is New York Condoning Illiteracy?”

Deen wrote:

“I was raised in New York’s Hasidic community and educated in its schools. At my yeshiva elementary school, I received robust instruction in Talmudic discourse and Jewish religious law, but not a word about history, geography, science, literature, art or most other subjects required by New York State law. I received rudimentary instruction in English and arithmetic — an afterthought after a long day of religious studies — but by high school, secular studies were dispensed with altogether.

“The language of instruction was, for the most part, Yiddish. English, our teachers would remind us, was profane.

“During my senior year of high school, a common sight in our study hall was of students learning to sign their names in English, practicing for their marriage license. For many, it was the first time writing their names in anything but Yiddish or Hebrew.

“When I was in my 20s, already a father of three, I had no marketable skills, despite 18 years of schooling. I could rely only on an ill-paid position as a teacher of religious studies at the local boys’ yeshiva, which required no special training or certification. As our family grew steadily — birth control, or even basic sexual education, wasn’t part of the curriculum — my then-wife and I struggled, even with food stamps, Medicaid and Section 8 housing vouchers, which are officially factored into the budgets of many of New York’s Hasidic families.

“I remember feeling both shame and anger. Shame for being unable to provide for those who relied on me. Anger at those responsible for educating me who had failed me so colossally….

“This experience — of lacking the most basic knowledge — is one I have come to know well. Ten years ago, at age 33, I left the Hasidic community and sought to make my way in the secular world. At 35, I got my G.E.D., but I never made it to college, relying instead on self-study to fill in my educational gaps. I still live with my educational handicaps.

“I now have two sons, ages 16 and 18. I do not have custody of them — I lost it when I left the Hasidic world, and so I have no control over their education. Today, they cannot speak, read or write in English past a second-grade level. (As for my three daughters, their English skills are fine. Girls, not obligated with Torah study, generally receive a decent secular education.)

“Like me, my sons will be expected to marry young and raise large families. They too will receive no guidance on how to provide for them and will be forced into low-wage jobs and rely heavily on government support.

“They are not alone. Across the state, there are dozens of Hasidic yeshivas, with tens of thousands of students — nearly 60,000 in New York City alone — whose education is being atrociously neglected. These schools receive hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding, through federal programs like Title I and Head Start and state programs like Academic Intervention Services and universal pre-K. For New York City’s yeshivas, $120 million comes from the state-funded, city-run Child Care and Development Block Grant subsidy program: nearly a quarter of the allocation to the entire city….

“According to New York State law, nonpublic schools are required to offer a curriculum that is “substantially equivalent” to that of public schools. But when it comes to Hasidic yeshivas, this law has gone unenforced for decades. The result is a community crippled by poverty and a systemic reliance on government funding for virtually all aspects of life…

“According to a report by Yaffed, or Young Advocates for Fair Education, an organization that advocates for improved general studies in Hasidic yeshivas, an estimated 59 percent of Hasidic households are poor or near-poor. According to United States Census figures, the all-Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel, an hour north of New York City, is the poorest in the country, with median family income less than $18,000.”

Betsy DeVos came to New York City to visit yeshivas because she believes that the federal government should pay for vouchers for religious schools. She believes that all of us should pay the cost of schools that don’t teach English, science, or math. These are schools far out of the mainstream. Orthodox Jews are free to attend them, but the public should not be expected to subsidize them.