Improving the status of teachers in Israel
It is troubling to see that the very discipline meant to produce our future scientists and to cultivate creativity, entrepreneurship and leadership in
sundry fields does not merit the type of compensation expected for professionals in our society and economy.
School children Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
The issue of teacher status in Israel is frequently raised in the public
discourse, but it seems that all the words written and events created have not
crossed from the realm of discussion to the reality of causing actual
In the current era, in which the Internet and online
databases are reputable resources for imparting information, we see a clear need
to redefine the role and mission of the teacher. This role cannot simply be one
of imparting facts and sharing knowledge. Rather, the focus must be on teaching
values, that cannot be acquired via search engines or social media. Our youth,
on the whole, recognize the importance of values in building their character, so
it is imperative to ensure that those who impart knowledge are also those who,
at their core, live by values of appreciation for our homeland and its
As one who came to the Knesset from the halls of academia, I
spent many years in the world of teacher training and guidance. I was pleased to
see that the lion’s share of those who seek education as a profession have the
drive and motivation to create positive societal change. Besides this drive, the
educational system requires other strengths such as broad academic education,
with various specialties; in social sciences, humanities and especially the
Unfortunately, the teaching profession is not
considered an attractive career choice for many students.
challenge and educational mission it presents, many promising students prefer to
join the world of industry and hi-tech, which confers higher professional status
and comes with a myriad of benefits and a more than respectable
It is troubling to see that the very discipline meant to produce
our future scientists and to cultivate creativity, entrepreneurship and
leadership in sundry fields does not merit the type of compensation expected for
professionals in our society and economy.
Lately, we have witnessed a
number of incidents in which the teacher was disrespected, by students and by
A proper society, one that is critical and enlightened, as in
Israel, must place the status of its educators on a pedestal, as a tangible
rebuttal to these extreme incidents. We must not ignore the steps taken to
improve teachers’ salaries by a not-insignificant amount, as an acknowledgement
of their considerable investment. However, the day has not yet arrived in which
we will see the salary of the Israeli teacher match that of counterparts in
other enlightened countries, which see education as a supreme value.
my induction to the 19th Knesset, I declared my intention to promote the status
of teachers and of teaching in the State of Israel for the benefit of society
and for the next generation.
This expedition will be long, but worthwhile
and ultimately necessary.
My first action as a Member of Knesset and as a
result of my declaration, was to create a parliamentary panel to deal with this
issue and lead, hopefully, to an improvement of the compensation package for
teachers and thus to turning the teaching profession into a more attractive one
to those with the appropriate skills. This first step will lead to continued
development and growth for all Israelis.
The great educator Janusz
Korczak stated it best when he said, “One who worries about the coming days
plants wheat, and one who worries about the coming years plants trees, while one
who worries about the coming generations teaches people.”
The writer is a
member of Knesset for Yisrael Beytenu and former deputy director of the Churgin
School of Education at Bar-Ilan University.