(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Kadima's candidate for education minister, MK Uriel Reichman, and Labor's candidate for the post, Yuli Tamir, both criticized the impending NIS 60 million cut in the national education budget Sunday. The reductions are expected to lead to the firing of between 600 and 1,000 high school teachers.
The budget measures were decided upon two years ago, and have already resulted in the elimination of two class hours per week for 10th and 11th graders. During the next school year, a similar cut is scheduled for 12th graders. Since the law requires that teachers to be dismissed ahead of the next school year be informed by May 31, initial lists of teachers slated to be fired will be drawn up immediately following the end of the Pessah school vacation.
According to a spokeswoman for the Secondary School Teachers' Association, the budget cut is in contradiction of every party's campaign platform.
"Before the elections, everyone spoke of the need to invest in education, and now they are going to fire more teachers," the spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post.
Although the Teachers' Association would try to stop the cuts via negotiations and public opinion, she said, if it were left with no choice, the union will strike late in the current school year or at the beginning of the next in September.
Reichman said steps to implement the cuts should be stopped immediately. He said interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had already committed to changes that required a larger, rather than a smaller, education budget.
"The entire process must be stopped until a new education minister is chosen and the whole subject is reexamined," Reichman said. "It is not right [that such a cut be instituted] just prior to the designation of a new minister, whose role is to create a new policy. A cut like this will take years to remedy, and will cause inordinate damage," he said.
Reichman also said, "The entire subject of firing teachers must be reexamined."
Tamir sharply criticized the impending budget cut in a letter to Olmert last week. "On a human level, it is scandalous that hundreds of teachers will spend the holiday sitting at home without knowing what will become of their professional future," she wrote. "On an educational level, this is a wrong and unnecessary decision, since the education system has already suffered from a 250,000 reduction in [class] hours, and cannot take another cut."
Tamir called upon Olmert to prevent the budget cut and to allow the next education minister to plan the next school year in collaboration with teachers.