(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Municipal funding for education slightly reduces the effect of affirmative action efforts by the Education Ministry, according to a study released by the Taub Center this week.
The study, conducted by principal researcher Nachum Blass, and by Noam Zussman and Shay Tsur from the Research Department at the Bank of Israel, examined the extent of resources allocated by municipalities to the education system.
Funding of education in Israel is divided between the central government, municipalities, households, and additional agents such as non-profit educational organizations, the report stated.
This financing system has caused great public debate in recent years over claims of growing gaps between stronger municipalities that allocate greater resources to education and weaker municipalities, who cannot afford to allocate additional resources to education.
The Taub Center study found that municipalities fund an average of two working hours for teachers per week per class, which is less than four percent of the total hours, and close to one-third of the hours allocated from sources other than the Education Ministry.
The report clearly showed that wealthier municipalities allocate more working hours from their own resources than those municipalities with an intermediate or low socioeconomic ranking.
These differences are also considerable when schools with the same socioeconomic ranking in municipalities with different rankings are compared, the report found.
For example, a school with pupils from low socioeconomic backgrounds that is within a wealthier municipality benefits from a greater allocation of working hours than a school with pupils from low socioeconomic backgrounds within a municipality with a low socioeconomic ranking.
Overall, the findings indicated that the Education Ministry’s affirmative action policies resulted in an allocation of 32% more working hours to socioeconomically weaker populations, however, the effect of municipality financing counteracted these efforts, resulting in only 27% more hours being allocated to weaker pupil populations.
The report also found that non-profit organizations help to narrow the gaps in education, though parents widen them.
“When it comes to affirmative action, the impact of non-profit funding for the allocation of working hours is in the opposite direction of parental funding. While non-profits take a clear stand on affirmative action – favoring weaker populations – the financial contribution of parents is mostly seen in schools where the population is of greater socioeconomic means,” the researchers wrote.
The research study was conducted based on data from official primary schools in the state (Jewish, non-religious) education system during the academic years 2000- 2001 through 2008-2009.