In 1976, Something very special happened to Special Education.
P’TACH began as an answer to a pressing problem.
Too many Yeshiva students with special learning needs were being left behind.
There were simply no alternatives. P’TACH was created on the simple premise that children with learning differences need a different way to learn. And so, in 1976 “Parents For Torah For All Children” was born.
They aren’t learning disabilities. They’re learning differences.
When you change the terminology it has a positive effect on everything else.
The next thing we changed was where our children learn. We didn’t want to take them of a mainstream Yeshiva. So we created a program that works within a Yeshiva.
After all, children learn better when they’re included. Not isolated.
Every child learns in a different way.
Some children need a P’TACH class once or twice a day, for others it’s full time.
So we built a whole new kind of learning system – based on positives not negatives.
It’s a multi-track system that can be custom-tailored to fit individual needs.
Put it another way…the most important constant in our system is flexibility.
Parents and teachers talk constantly about “Mainstreaming.”
That’s always our goal. Sooner or later every Jewish child is going to be mainstreamed. It’s called Life!
And when that happens it’s important that they have as many opportunities as they have dreams.
It’s not only our goal, it’s our prayer, for each and every P’TACH child.
P’TACH was established in 1976 by a group of concerned parents and professionals who were searching for high schools for their children but had serious concerns about the Yeshivas abilities to handle their children’s unique learning needs. These children had a “learning disability” yet possessed average or above average intelligence. Thus the parents were not willing to let their children be ignored, sit in the back of a classroom, many times be forced to go to public school or be subject to torment and frustration because they could not learn like other children. These parents were not willing to relegate their children to a bleak future when they knew they had potential to achieve and become productive members of the community. Lastly, they saw all too clearly the slow emotional damage that would result when the problems were ignored.
This group of parents and professionals had the courage to step forward and demand more from a system that was all too willing to look the other way. Often principals and administrators were reluctant to admit that many more children in their school had difficulties. Additionally, the staff lacked the professional skills needed to educate each child according to his or her need.
The group became known as “P’TACH.” Rather than just being advocates for their children they took action. They established a pilot program for providing instruction that is the model for literally hundreds of programs being offered in the Jewish community today. In recognition of their “normal” potential, a program was established in a mainstream setting where learning disabled children could be educated alongside their siblings and peers. In conjunction with Yeshiva University High School, the first program of its kind was opened in 1978 to serve thirteen children. This program provided them the specialized educational services they required while still allowing them the opportunity to be part of a regular Yeshiva high school.
The success of this program created a general awareness about the plight of these youngsters – that wonderful potential was being wasted. Requests and inquiries proliferated beyond expectations. Today P’TACH has MODEL programs, AFFILIATE programs and CHAPTERS, across the USA, Canada and Israel, serving thousands of children. Thanks to the awareness created through the programs, seminaries, and other schools and organizations have been developed from this P’TACH design, servicing an ever growing number of children in need.