January 16, 2017: School discipline

The good news is that the cost of changing attitudes and behavior is modest, and the payoff, if seriously enforced, as it is in many other countries, can be enormous.

January 15, 2017 21:48

Letters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

School discipline

Lidar Gravé-Lazi’s excellent “‘Lax discipline in schools leads to low test scores’” (January 12) confirms what is widely known about what is arguably the most severe shortcoming in our public education system. That this has not been and is not now being addressed is scandalous.

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Education “experts” continue to advocate all sorts of technical fixes. Teachers’ unions prevent any progress by focusing solely on keeping any serious reforms at bay and lobbying instead for higher wages not justified by teacher performance. Politicians pour ever-increasing resources into sustaining this dysfunctional mess. Too many parents refuse to accept responsibility for their children’s abominable behavior.

And many, if not most, Israelis simply shrug, accepting this as normal and therefore acceptable.

In no area of our society is progress more threatened than in our failure to once and for all commit to simply getting our schools to do what they should be doing – and that is enforcing strict behavior on students by insisting that parents and teachers do the obvious and tolerate nothing less than the highest standards of discipline.

Parents who threaten school administrators or teachers for justifiably disciplining their children should face severe legal penalties. Teachers who lack the ability to sustain discipline in their classrooms should be dismissed.

School principals who refuse to assert their authority in this matter should themselves be dismissed.

It is time for the education minister to focus first and foremost on correcting this policy failure. His ministry’s fixation on expensive technology, off-the wall theories of education and more dead-weight educational bureaucracy has been a dismal failure, as the evidence unambiguously indicates.

The good news is that the cost of changing attitudes and behavior is modest, and the payoff, if seriously enforced, as it is in many other countries, can be enormous.



It is a sad reflection on Israeli education when an objective evaluation finds Israel as low man on the totem pole in terms of math, physics and other scientific achievements.

Most of the blame is put on poor discipline in school. We who have had children know that this is true, that there is widespread apathy to discipline in Israeli classrooms. Children cannot learn, and young people cannot develop proper habits when this is so.

It is time that the Education Ministry achieved a modicum of discipline so that our children will march at the head of the parade, and not the tail end.


What a legacy!

US President Barack Obama gave his “farewell address” a couple of days ago (“‘Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear,’” International News, January 12). The one thing on which I could agree with him was his ability to change the world.

“Yes, we can,” he crowed. “Yes we did.” Well, he certainly changed the world, and to my eyes, the change was all bad.

Obama stood by when Russia invaded the Crimean peninsula.

He stood inert when Russia (now emboldened) began to mix in Syria. When the Syrians abrogated his “red line” about the use of chemical weapons, he stood still. At that point, the field was abandoned to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has since taken over in Syria.

Syrians have been leaving their country by the thousands. Most of them are landing in Europe.

Europe is just about sinking under the weight of the refugees.

These refugees are changing the whole face of Europe.

The Europeans have (finally) started to notice the many terrorists who have now begun to act there.

The Iranians are getting more active in providing weapons for all kinds of terrorist groups. They now have the means to attack us whenever they want because of the money now flowing into their country – money made available by Obama’s awful agreement with them.

Change the world? Obama certainly did. Yes, he did – like a one-man wrecking-ball. What a legacy!

Petah Tikva

Happy place

Kudos to Ziona Greenwald on a very well-written article on why we in Israel are among the happiest people in the world (“In a happy state,” Comment & Features, January 11).

As olim – we made aliya in 1980 – we know exactly what we gave up, as opposed to native-born Israelis, who are often curious to try America and look for the gold-paved streets.

Nothing compares to living in our own country for the reasons (and more) that Greenwald cites.



Azaria again The prosecution and conviction of Sgt. Elor Azaria was a show trial intended to impress western countries, especially America, that the IDF is the most moral army in the world (“Elor Azaria’s unprecedented trial,” Comment & Features, January 11). Israelis are suckers for that.

In the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, as many as 500 children, women and elderly people were slaughtered by American soldiers. Some of these people were tortured and raped. At first there was a cover- up, then 25 men were charged, but only Lt. William Calley, the platoon leader, was convicted. He received a life sentence but served only three and a half years under house arrest.

In 2004, US Sgt. Tracy Perkins and Lt. Jack Saville forced their troops to throw two Iraqi civilians into the Tigris River, one of whom drowned. The first soldier was jailed for six months, the second for 45 days.

Unlike Israeli soldiers, Americans in Vietnam and Iraq were not fighting barbaric terrorists bombing cities and blowing themselves up among civilians in their enemy’s country.


Following the manslaughter conviction of Sgt. Elor Azaria, concern was expressed that the verdict might restrain our security forces when engaging the enemy. These fears indeed came to pass when a terrorist in a truck rammed through a group of IDF troops.

The message must be clear to our men and women that their split-second decisions are supported by the IDF chain of command and they need not fear legal action. When our forces are unsure of such support, their reactions to dangerous situations can be hindered.

Your January 8 editorial “Premature pardon” quotes Donniel Hartman’s words about the Azaria case: “Since Sgt. Azaria and all the soldiers in the army are indeed our children, our greatest act of care and loyalty is to guarantee that they will serve in an army that truly aspires to be the most moral in the world.”

Battlefield conditions are not ideal for testing morality, especially when our enemies adhere to the most barbaric standards.

Rather than espousing the highest moral ground, as Mr. Hartman insists we do, our number one concern should be making sure that our soldier children come home safe and sound.



The court is punishing the wrong soldier. The one who shot the Hebron terrorist first missed his target – he only wounded him. Azaria just finished what the first soldier failed to do.

I believe that if a terrorist raises a knife at a person obviously intending to kill him, he should be shot dead on the spot.

What a farce the whole Azaria trial was.


Give us a hint

The political cartoons in your paper are a puzzle to me. I would appreciate your printing the solutions the day after.

Ramat Hasharon

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