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Secular education under attack: the fight for the future of state schools Israel today


Agenda, budgets and appointments • The minister of education will choose the third most important position in the office: the chairman of the pedagogical secretariat, who will determine the contents of the study • On the ground, there are already worries: "The state education is promiscuous, there is no one to take care of it"

In the coming days, the Minister of Education Yoav Kish and the director general of his office Assaf Tselal, both of whom have no background in pedagogy or education, are supposed to choose the third most important position in the ministry - the chairman of the pedagogical secretariat.

This is an appointment that should not be taken lightly: the Pedagogical Secretariat is responsible for designing the educational and pedagogical policy of the Ministry of Education.

It determines the programs and study content, as well as the skills and values ​​required of the students.

This appointment entails quite a bit of tension, and the question of who will be appointed to the position;

If it will be a person who grew up and was educated in the "secular" state education, or rather one who grew up in the religious state education, who is identified with the knitted caps and is considered more right-wing and conservative.

In recent years, quite a few men and women from the religious-nationalist sector have held the position of chairman of the Pedagogical Secretariat - among them Moshe Weinstock and Miri Schlissel, who were appointed by Nefalti Bennett, the latter held the position until a few months ago. When she retired, she was appointed to the position by the temporary appointment of educationist Karen Raz Netzer, which grew in the "secular" state hanoch, but with the entry of the new Minister of Education Yoav Kish into his position - she ended her role. Now, as mentioned, the system is waiting for the new figure in the position.

Dr. Tabibian Mizrahi: "There is an attempt to impose an identity on state education.

They accuse him of excessive pluralism, of progressivism, and in the name of this thing they are told - 'we will re-educate you'.

That's the big concern."

It is important to say that in the religious state education (365 thousand students) there are wonderful and talented educators, but while the Hamad is a closed club that determines the curriculum and the set of values ​​according to which its students are educated - it is closed to "secular" or "traditional" administrators and teachers. , who are required to declare that they lead a religious lifestyle in order to work there. On the other hand, people who grew up in the state-religious education integrate into the state education system (which is not religious) in senior positions, and influence the education and consciousness of all the system's students.

A question of identity

This is part of a large campaign that is taking place in the education system, and which is reaching its peak now with regard to the agenda, budgets and appointments.

All of these, alongside statements that the students will engage more in Bible studies, Jewish identity and tradition, and alongside anti-LGBT statements, "jump" a large secular public, which educates its children in the framework of these schools.

Closed to outsiders.

Students in religious education, illustration, photo: Michael Giladi Gini

"Normal state education is the most 'breakthrough'. Unlike the other currents, it does not have a director in the Ministry of Education and it does not have an education council like there is in state-religious education (HMD), for example," says Dr. Michal Tabibian Mizrahi, head of the Beit Menor Center The Century Initiative, and formerly VP of Strategy and Planning at the Ministry of Education. "What is happening right now is that there is an attempt to impose an identity on state education.

They accuse him of excessive pluralism, of progressiveness, and in the name of this thing they are told - 'we will re-educate you'.

That's the big concern."

She further adds: "Most of what we hear about the other three currents (state-religious, ultra-orthodox, and Arab) is that they are talked about, they worry about them, they talk about their problems. Almost half of Israel's students are in an education that is the "leftover". When you enter the gates of the education system, they ask You are who you are, and if you are not a knitted kippa, ultra-orthodox or Arab - you are in a group that has never been defined."

Huminer-Rosenblum: "Education ministers and governments always try to pull in their direction, but the feeling now is that there is an attack on the liberal way of life, and certainly on those who identify with the left."

According to her, the state education fails to contain the differences in it: "It has both traditional students, complete secularists and differences in political identity. All of these mean that the ability to create an identity is almost nil, because it is impossible to talk about almost anything in citizenship, history and literature classes - Everything has become political. That's why these professions, which shape identity, have been pushed aside. The state-Jewish education stream needs to be established as a stream - and not as a remnant - and that means relevant, Zionist, Jewish and democratic content."

A state-secular current

Today, the vice-chairman of the Pedagogical Secretariat is Yuval Olivaston, a man wearing a kippah. Last week, Minister of Education Kish announced his intention to appoint Avital Ben-Shloma as Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Education - she also belongs to the religious-nationalist community, and was the director of the Department of Research Education policy in the Ecclesiastical Forum, which is considered very conservative and right-wing.

At this time, the demand of parents to establish a state-secular education stream is increasing.

A campaign that reaches its climax.

Yoav Kish, photo: Oren Ben Hakon

"We know this call to establish a secular education stream, which has become popular, and we think it's a mistake. This divergence will not do Israeli society any good, what's more, a large part of the students are traditional, and they also deserve an appropriate framework," explains Aviad Hominer-Rosenblum, VP Policy and Content at the Berel Katznelson Foundation, and adds: "Education ministers and governments always try to pull the system in their direction, but the feeling now is that there is an all-out attack on the liberal way of life, even within the religious community, and certainly on those who identify with the left.

Parents of students in state education feel threatened.

"In the beginning, state-religious and ultra-Orthodox education were on the margins. But over time, for demographic and political reasons, they became dominant, and strengthened their autonomy within the education system and outside. This gained momentum in the years when they were ministers of education on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education.

A situation has arisen in which state education is promiscuous, there is no one who really cares about it."

Pay more

The battle between state and state-religious education can be seen in the budgets.

In all age groups, a student from the religious state education is budgeted a higher amount than his friend in the state education.

The record is in the upper divisions and high schools: a "secular" student is budgeted in the amount of 32,799 shekels, compared to 41,408 shekels for a student in a state-religious school - a gap of more than 8,500 shekels in favor of the non-religious.

In middle schools, a "secular" student is budgeted an average of 27,000 shekels, while a "secular" student is budgeted 31,600 shekels (low maintenance index).

In elementary school, the average per student in state-religious schools is 18,515, compared to 16,631 shekels in "secular" education.

Recently, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich spoke to administrators from the national religious education, and promised them more budgets and support: "With God's help, in the next budget we will dramatically lower tuition fees for parents in religious Zionism. It is good and beautiful that in our priorities we invest a lot in education, but it is already too much".

But there are those who think this is a mistake, and that it is a subsidy for the rich.

According to Shmuel Ashet, CEO of Torah and Work Trustees, a religious organization that works to prevent extremism and segregation in religious society, "The attempt to lower tuition fees in high school and boarding yeshiva and transfer more budgets to them is a reward for those who already have.

This will lead to a deepening of the educational and social gaps, which are already enormous.

"The main reason why a student in state-religious education receives a larger budget is because the institutions are small and inefficient. Many small schools are opened, instead of everyone studying together in a large school. Among other things, this is due to elitism and a desire to learn separately from others, and therefore a situation is created in which The parents and also the Ministry of Education pay more.

"What is happening right now is that there is an attempt to impose an identity on state education." Dr. Tavibian Mizrahi,

"The way to reduce parents' payments is not by strengthening the powerful, but by providing a nationwide budgetary response that goes beyond sectoral boundaries, as well as by economic professionalization that includes increasing institutions, transparency, enforcement of registration procedures, regional planning, and more."

The Ministry of Education stated: "The Ministry has given it the flag to provide equal education while striving for excellence. The same will be the case with state education, of which the Minister and the CEO are graduates themselves.

Any attempt at striving and extremism by mirroring another situation is wrong and has no relation to reality.

As evidence, no pedagogic change has been made in this context, and these days steps are even being formulated to expand flexibility, which will allow administrators in the field to adapt the curriculum to the population in their institution."

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Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2023-02-05

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