High school students spend time together after class..
(photo credit: MOSHE MILNER)
A nationwide high-school and middle-school strike that will affect some 700,000 pupils has been called for Sunday, after a student in Tel Sheva knocked a high-school teacher there unconscious.
The Teachers Association announced on Thursday that all member-teachers of grades seven through twelve will suspend their classes in protest of the escalating violence aimed at teachers by students, and the government’s inability to confront what the association said is becoming a life-threatening issue for Israeli teachers.
On Wednesday, the student struck the teacher in the head with a metal rod causing her to lose consciousness. The teacher was then rushed to the hospital and a report was filed with the police.
“For too long, the Teachers Association has been warning the Education Ministry about the culture of violence against teachers and nothing has been done about it. Local protests have not mobilized the Education Ministry and as a result, a teacher almost lost her life today,” the Teachers Association said in a statement.
Teachers Association chairman Ran Erez echoed the statement by saying: “For a year-and-a-half the Education Ministry has not promoted the bill that we (the association along with the ministry) submitted that would define and punish violent acts against a teacher within the confines of the law. Perhaps this will deter and prevent violence. If this strike saves one teacher’s life, it will be enough. Is the ministry waiting for a teacher to be murdered in the State of Israel in order to promote legislation that would increase the punishment and deter teachers from being harmed?” The Teachers Association has been on strike since November 12, after salary negotiations between it and the Finance Ministry broke down. Sunday will mark the first strike held in direct response to violence against teachers.
In response, the Ministry issued a statement on Thursday saying that Education Minister Naftali Bennett is promoting a program for the protection of teachers in a bill that will increase the punishment of violence against teachers to five years in prison.
In addition, Bennett instructed Director General Shmuel Abuav to examine the sanctions given to teachers and principals, and to ensure that in the event that a student attacks a teacher, the student may be permanently expelled from the school in which he or she is enrolled.
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“A teacher needs to teach without fear,” said Bennett.
“The teacher’s role is to educate, and our job is to maintain their status and functioning.
We will continue to protect every teacher and we will respond with a firm hand when we have to.”
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