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Yeroham mayor: Schools may strike if government fails to keep ‘equality’ pledge

Biton met Rivlin following the “equality march,” which left Yeroham on June 13, and arrived in Jerusalem on June 23.

June 27, 2016 02:06
3 minute read.
PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN and Yeroham Mayor Michael Biton (middle row, left) pose with participants of

PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN and Yeroham Mayor Michael Biton (middle row, left) pose with participants of the ‘equality march’ in the President’s Residence in Jerusalem yesterday.. (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

Yeroham Mayor Michael Biton told President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday that unless the government keeps its promises with regard to municipal budgetary allocations for education and social welfare, an appeal will be made to the High Court of Justice and schools throughout the country will strike in the new school year.

Biton met Rivlin following the “equality march,” which left Yeroham on June 13, and arrived in Jerusalem on June 23, that meant to pressure the government into an equality mode. The marchers included mayors from across the country, students, parents, social workers and other interested parties – including a representative of the Beduin city of Rahat, who participated despite the fast of Ramadan.

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Accompanied by some of the marchers, Biton came to the President’s Residence, knowing the significance that Rivlin places on education. Biton hinted in the meeting that he didn’t have much faith in the promises of politicians.

The group that accompanied him included secular, national religious, haredi, Left and Right, Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews, and the representative from Rahat.

Biton explained that there would have been greater Arab representation if it were not for Ramadan, “but we know they are all with us in spirit.”

Betar Illit Mayor Rabbi Meir Rubinstein said that he had been in public life for 24 years, but had never experienced such a degree of solidarity from so many different segments of society who were united in their mutual concern for justice for every child.

In the conversation in which most of those present participated, the gaps in allocations for education were incredible.

Tel Aviv for example receives well in excess of NIS 12,000 per child whereas Jerusalem receives NIS 4,800. In Rahat the allocation is only NIS 7 per child.

Two young high school students, one from a state religious school in which the standard of education is high, told Rivlin that they had joined the equality movement because it bothered them to see the extent of inequality.

The 11th grade student from the state religious school said that it hurt her to know that she will sit for her matriculation exams while others in her age group will never reach that level; that she will go to university, and they will not, and that she can choose any course she wants, while their career choices will be limited.

“I don’t want to see this situation continue twenty years along the line,” she told Rivlin, adding that the struggle was not solely that of peripheral towns and cities, it was something affecting the whole country.

The other high school student was frustrated by the inability of decision makers to understand the importance of social workers who work with economically underprivileged families. Social welfare and education go hand in hand, she said, because if the families are not lifted out of poverty, their children will not finish school. Another cause of her frustration was the lack of provision for children with special needs.

Rivlin was visibly impressed by the earnestness and the passion of the two students, who at an early age were already demonstrating a sense of community responsibility.

Rivlin said that while security is Israel’s number one priority, education is no less important. As far as he was aware, he added, Education Minister Naftali Bennett is already introducing reforms into the education system.

Rivlin agreed that the state is obligated to provide the tools for equal opportunity, but while there was consensus about the obligation, when it came to apportioning the budget, somehow education fell behind.

Various members of the group said that education becomes a priority only at election time when everyone makes promises that they don’t keep.

One mother, who was present at the meeting, said to Rivlin that she is far less interested in her son having the opportunity to eventually study medicine than she is in him loving the country.

Constant deprivation is not a recipe for love, she said, adding that what she wants more than anything is for her son to love the country and to want to serve it.

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