Haredi Education "Dragging Israel Into The Third World"
Israel is deceiving itself by financially enabling haredim to operate separate school systems that don't prepare their students to enter the Israeli workforce. It is laying the groundwork for what will push Israel back into the Third World. Perhaps we are foolish enough to let this happen, but the outside world isn't so dumb. It is holding the mirror up to our faces and saying, "Welcome to the third world, where you belong."
2015 will probably be the last year Israeli students will take international assessment tests. Why? Because Israel's coddling of haredim and its obscenely high rate of special needs students means that too small a percentage of Israel's students will be able to take the tests. And that disqualifies Israel from having its students tested.
This has all kinds of negative implications when it comes to marketing Israel as a business and R & D destination, and will probably significantly hurt foreign investment.
Writing in Ha'aretz, Meirav Arlosoroff explains where the damage comes from:
…Why? The international organizations that shape the research assessment aren't suckers, and they aren't willing to include in their rankings countries suspected of altering their results through selective participation of students. Countries where a significant proportion of students aren't tested aren't allowed in international assessments.[Hat Tip: HeathenHassid.]
The upper limit for non-participants in the TIMSS is 23 percent of the tested age group. During the last TIMSS, in 2011, Israel was on the verge of exceeding the 23 percent mark. Of Israel's students, 14.9 percent of Haredim, 1.5 percent of special education students, and 6 percent of those on the regular track were diagnosed with learning disabilities, and did not take the test.
The percentage of Israeli students who do not participate in the international exams is twice the number than in the rest of the world. Children diagnosed with learning disabilities do not take the exam anywhere in the world, but in Israel they constitute 6 percent of the student population as opposed to 2 percent globally. This figure should warrant an internal investigation in the educational system over the potentially inflated diagnoses of learning disabilities, independent of concerns about international exams.
Second, the large number of Haredi schoolchildren who do not learn math, and hence aren't tested in the subject for either national exams (Meitzav) or international ones (TIMSS and PISA) is unique to Israel. While the educational system can address the number of children diagnosed with learning disabilities, it cannot address the number of Haredi children. The increase in their numbers will almost certainly ensure that by the next TIMSS exam in four years' time, Israel will have crossed the 23 percent threshold.
Thus, the separate educational system for Haredi children leaves Israel deep in Third World territory. Soon enough, we will be pushed out of the group of developed countries and be left where we actually belong – grouped with countries where between 15 and 20 percent of students do no learn math, English or sciences. Of course, these countries are poor and underdeveloped.
We need to be grateful to the world for giving us this slap in the face and hope that it continues to make our ears ring. It's no secret that a vast majority of Haredi schools don't teach the Israeli core curriculum, or at least a large chunk of it, and one can assume that whoever isn't tested doesn't teach or learn the material.
However, despite their failure to teach the core curriculum, Israel's Haredi schools receive between 55 percent and 75 percent of the government funding received by schools in the state system. The two largest school networks in the Haredi educational system – those affiliated with the Hasidic Agudat Yisrael party and the Shas party – received 100 percent of the funding provided to state schools, which are obligated to teach the core curriculum.
Israel is deceiving itself by financially enabling Haredim to operate separate school systems that don't prepare their students to enter the Israeli workforce. It is laying the groundwork for what will push Israel back into the Third World. Perhaps we are foolish enough to let this happen, but the outside world isn't so dumb. It is holding the mirror up to our faces and saying, "Welcome to the third world, where you belong."