Israel has a law that requires schools that receive money from the state to teach the state's core curriculum – math, science, civics, English and other subjects needed to gt a decent job and earn a living in today's world. Haredi schools often get money from the state, but many – especially the boy's yeshivas – do not actually teach the core curriculum despite the law requiring them to do so. A new report exposes that duplicity – and the harm that it does to those haredi kids and to Israeli society as a whole. And the haredi response to this is to? Whine…
…as Yeshiva World's Israel reporter so ineloquently demonstrates:
The issue of the talmidei torah, the chareidi school system, is back in the media; under attack as a result of statistics released by the Ministry of Education. Ministry officials report that over the past decade the number of students attending chareidi mosdos elementary schools has skyrocketed. These schools enjoy state funding, but the children emerge “ignorant”, the daily Maariv reports, referring to “core subjects”.
When the ministry refers to “core subjects” it directs its criticism to the fact these schools devote most of the learning hours to limudei kodesh, and the secular studies are not regarded as a priority. As a result, ministry officials feel the students are far below average for their age groups in subjects including math, English and basic science, which state officials feel is critical if one expects to compete is the workplace as an adult.
The ministry report cites that in recent years these chareidi schools, classified as ‘recognized’, have been established in many non-chareidi areas including Haifa, Zichron Yaakov, Maale Adumim, and Hadera. As a result, the number of children attending such schools has increased 40% during the past decade and state education officials are concerned, for they feel too many children are being raised without a basic education, which will result in increased unemployment in the coming years for the graduates of chareidi mosdos will not be capable of finding employment. The state estimates that in addition to the students in these mosdos, there are tens of thousands of students in chareidi schools not receiving state funding, compounding concerns of a growing population of illiterate people who will have to be supported by welfare as adults.
The report cites that as a result of successful efforts of chareidi MKs over the years, the schools enjoy 75-100% of the budget given to state public schools which compel students to comply with the state curriculum. Maariv adds that during the past decade, not only has the state agreed to fund a growing number of these chareidi elementary schools, the state paid to build the schools despite the fact the system does not recognize Ministry of Education supervisors or the state curriculum.
Maariv cites a number of schools in which students are not taught any secular subjects, such as the Knesset Yitzchak School in Hadera, established in 2001; and Talmid Torah Zichron Yaakov, established in 2004. In Beit Shemesh for example, the number of students in such mosdos jumped from 770 to 4,427 – adding that today, about one-quarter of the city’s elementary students learn in ‘recognized’ chareidi mosdos.
Of course the report focuses on painting chareidim in a bad light, as “parasites” who take from the state without contributing to society, adding that in Afula, in the Derech Emmes School, there are 101 students with an average class size of 18.5 children. In Haifa’s Zichron Meir School, established in 2002, the average class size is 14. The report does not address the hundreds of mosdos that live with the reality of severe overcrowding and even major safety issues, compelled to remain in caravan classrooms that are frigid in winter and sweltering during the summer months.
Following is the ministry’s data as to the number of children in ‘recognized’ mosdos in some cities around Israel:
Afula: 2001 (0) 2012 (101)
Beit El: 2001 (0) 2012 (201)
Elad: 2001 (0) 2012 (2,049)
Emek Lod Regional Council: 2001 (0) 2012 (400)
Hadera: 2001 (0) 2012 (223)
Haifa: 2001 (0) 2012 (109)
Kadima-Tzoran: 2001 (0) 2012 (102)
Maale Adumim: 2001 (0) 2012 (118)
Shomron Regional Council: 2001 (0) 2012 (102)
Zichron Yaakov: 2001 (0) 2012 (165)
Betar Illit: 2001 (0) 2012 (3,276)
Modi’in Illit: 2001 (0) 2012 (4,709)
Emanuel: 2001 (0) 2012 (70)
Kiryat Yearim (Telshe Stone) 2001 (0) 2012 (298)
Ofakim: 2001 (52) 2012 (278)
Ashdod: 2001 (1,118) 2012 (1,896)
Beit Shemesh: 2001 (770) 2012 (4,427)
The report, which was given prominent real estate in the mainstream newspapers and Israel Radio, will undoubtedly have an impact on the general elections on 11 Shevat 5773, perhaps a compelling factor to get chareidim out to vote or alternatively, to bring additional mandates to the parties seeking to force their realities onto the chareidi education system.