Maverick grade school strike fizzles

Most parents will be sending their young children to school as usual on Sunday morning after a call by a maverick parents association to strike elementary schools as well was largely dismissed. Meanwhile, representatives of the Seconday School Teachers Organization (SSTO) and the government were meeting at the National Labor Court on Saturday night. Eti Benyamin, head of the Parents Forum which represents 80 communities all over Israel including those in the major cities, told The Jerusalem Post Saturday night that they had no intention of striking. "We oppose using children for any such purpose. We are not striking the elementary schools," she said. On Thursday, a group called the Parents Organization called for a comprehensive strike of students from first to twelfth grades on Sunday. However, it is unclear whether the Parents Organization actually has any authority over parents or students. An aide to Education Minister Yuli Tamar said in a statement that the organization did not have the proper accreditation. "The Parents Organization does not have authorization from the registrar of non-profits and therefore its legal status is not in order," the aide said Friday. Benyamin told the Post that the Supreme Court had decided in August that the organization did not represent parents. She also accused the SSTO of using the Parents Organization to try and further its cause. "The SSTO is attempting to drag our little children into the fray. This is a gross violation of the Mandatory Education law," she angrily declared. "Their strike has already crossed all red lines. We are sympathetic to their cause," but this is not the way to handle it, she said. "As soon as the children are returned to the classroom, we will join the SSTO to demand better conditions for the teachers and for the education system," she added. Beersheba Parents Committee head Shlomo Ben-Shushan also criticized SSTO head Ran Erez's tactics. "Erez expected us all to follow him like sheep after the shepherd, but that is not how it works here," Ben- Shushan told the Post on Saturday night. "We have good teachers in Beersheba and he doesn't represent them," he added. As the possibility loomed that the National Labor Court would issue injunctions forcing teachers back to work if no agreement was reached by Sunday morning, Erez said the teachers would not return to work even if the court ordered them to do so. "As far as we are concerned, we are not going back to work if there is no agreement," Erez said in an interview with Army Radio on Friday. Erez added that without Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's intervention, there was no chance of ending the strike. On Sunday, the Labor Party is expected to demand that Olmert intervene to solve the crisis.