The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality has spent considerably more money on weak elementary schools in the south than on stronger schools in the north in recent times, but there has been little or no improvement in results, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Tel Aviv. In national tests of Hebrew, English and mathematics done on pupils completing sixth grade, southern schools showed dismal results, with more than half their students failing in all areas.
According to the report, in the last academic year the city identified a number of "weak" schools and decided to give them significantly greater funds for extra lessons to enable them to close the gap. One school, Achva in Jaffa, received three times more money than any school in the north of the city, enabling it to add 104 hours of extra lessons in the 2006-7 school year. But the money did not help - 62 percent of pupils there failed the English test and 60% failed the mathematics test.
The report said three other schools, all in the south of the city, also showed particularly poor results. At Amiel Rambam, Haba'al Shem Tov and Lev Yafo, fully half the pupils - at the end of 6th grade when they were tested - had reading and writing levels equivalent to those of children in 4th or 5th grades. Similarly, their mathematics and English levels were well below what they should be.
A spokeswoman for the Amiel Rambam parents' committee said the extra lessons funded by the city were not enough. She said many students came from broken families with numerous children, and they needed more support.
And Meretz councilor Rifat (Jimmy) Turk said money was being sent to schools without any specified plans or control mechanisms, in an attempt to "keep things quiet."
"The city gives the principals a budget and lets them tear their hair out. That's why the results are so bad," Turk said.
A municipal spokesman said there had been some improvements at the southern schools, but the results were still unsatisfactory and the city would continue to invest in them. He denied that the money was being sent in an uncontrolled way, saying that Tel Aviv encompassed 13 neighborhoods in "rehabilitation" - the equivalent of several cities the size of Dimona or Yeroham - and that there were successes in some and problems in others, and the city was working on closing the gaps. He also said the city could not do "everything" for the students and that families had to support them, although he admitted that some families were incapable of doing so and the gap would probably never be entirely closed.