Members of the Israel Teachers Union, specifically preschool educators,
threatened to go on strike in preschool classes for three- and four-year-olds
this week, calling for the government to fund more classroom aides for public
The Teachers Union had declared a formal labor
dispute after the government had decided, last January, to make education for
three-and four-year-olds free. The resolution was implemented last month, with
the start of the new school year. Since then, public schools have seen a
significant rise in attendance for this age group.
The union complains
that some of the youngest children in the classroom are not potty-trained, which
puts additional strain on the teachers, increasing the need for extra classroom
Yossi Wasserman, head of the Israel Teachers Union, wrote in
a letter to local governments across the country: “It is an impossible
One classroom assistant cannot handle cleaning and changing
diapers for all of the children who aren’t potty-trained.” He added that
kindergartens are not equipped with the basic tools to take care of children who
soil their diapers.
Tamar Zandberg, member of the Tel Aviv City Council
has been following the Teachers Union’s struggle on the subject closely: “When
my child was three years old and not potty-trained, the school once called me in
the middle of a council meeting to come and change my kid’s diaper,” she told,
“but at the same time I understand the struggle of the teachers and
She explained that classroom aides are not acknowledged by
law as education workers but as administrative ones: “Their conditions are not
the same as the teachers.
They are very difficult: The salary is low and
it’s a very exhausting job.”
Edna Ben-Shitrit, a mother of three, had
toilet trained her youngest son two months before enrolling him in kindergarten
this year: “I did it especially because he was going to preschool, even though
the law doesn’t require parents to potty-train kids by the age of three,” she
“From my experience with my older kid, if he goes into it
still wearing diapers, he will feel miserable and uncomfortable,” she
Ben-Shitrit also said she has heard of children at her son’s
kindergarten that were left with a dirty diaper until their parents came to pick
Today, a preschool classroom consists of one teacher and one
assistant for 35 children.
The Teachers Union is waiting for a reaction
from the Education Ministry and local governments, responsible for funding
classroom aides. No responses have been released as of yet.