Israel’s Ministry of Education told the High Court of Justice last week that it will gradually reduce extra funding now given to official state Zionist Orthodox elementary schools to help defer the cost of gender-segregated classes. But that gradual reduction comes only because the government is restructuring how it funds all schools, not because the government admits the extra funding for gender-segregation is illegal and discriminatory.
Above: file photo
Is Extra Funding From The Israeli Government For Gender-Segregated Classes Illegal?
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel’s Ministry of Education told the High Court of Justice last week that it will gradually reduce extra funding now given to official state Zionist Orthodox elementary schools to help defer the cost of gender-segregated classes.
But that gradual reduction, Ha’aretz reported, comes only because the government is restructuring how it funds all schools, not because the government admits the extra funding for gender-segregation is illegal and discriminatory.
Two years ago, then Minister of Education Rabbi Shai Piron established the extra funding to allow Zionist Orthodox schools that wanted it to have gender-segregated classes beginning in grade four. Before then, gender-segregated classes where desired were reportedly funded by parents.
The nonprofit religious freedom group Israel Hofsheet (Be Free Israel) petitioned the High Court against Piron’s decision to allocate the extra funding shortly after Piron allocated it, arguing government funding for gender-segregated classes was illegal gender discrimination. The group also argued that the funding discriminated against students in secular public schools because of the frequent disparity in class size. Gender-segregated classes are almost always much smaller than mixed-gender classes.
The ministry promised the High Court in writing that it would phase out the extra funding for the gender-segregated classes and would completely end all funding for them during the 2018-19 academic year, all as a part of wider restructuring plan for school funding. It also showed that that the funding for the gender-segregated classes had already been reduced by almost one-third as that plan begins to be implemented.
“Given the position of the petitioner [Israel Hofsheet] that it would not persist with its petition if the gender separation funding by the Education Ministry is stopped, and because with the move toward differential funding this allocation is to stop, the Education Ministry’s position is that the petition is superfluous and should be denied,” the ministry’s representative told the High Court.
Be Free Israel told the High Court the funding should be immediately stopped.
“We’re concerned that delaying the decision is liable to empty the court’s intention of content. There’s no justifiable reason for the reduction to be gradual, which could lead to the next minister changing the policy, while meanwhile state-religious [Zionist Orthodox] education continues to benefit from extra budgets,” Israel Hofsheet’s managing director, Mickey Gitzin, reportedly said. Israel Hofsheet’s attorney noted the group is now deciding whether to press the High Court to order funding for gender-segregated classes halted immediately.