Lapid attacks haredim over inadequate school system

Yesh Atid party leader says ultra-orthodox schools must be made to teach core curriculum or face loss of government funding.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid 370 (photo credit: Efrat Sa'ar)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid 370
(photo credit: Efrat Sa'ar)
Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid would cut all funding for haredi schools if they do not start meeting minimum requirements in teaching math, English and reading comprehension, he announced at a Tel Aviv press conference Sunday.
Ultra-Orthodox schools have rejected demands to teach the government’s mandated core curriculum for decades. Lapid, who has said he wants to be education minister in the next government, vowed to enforce the core curriculum when he outlined his party’s platform on the eve of the first day of school.
“Education, unlike other issues that have fallen by the wayside over the past several years, must be a cause of unity and equality,” Lapid said. “But education is also the state’s ability to say what it does not accept: Educational institutions that do not teach the core curriculum will not receive a single cent from the state. Schools that do not accept Ethiopian pupils will not open. Principals that expel students with bad grades to raise their school’s success rate in matriculation tests could lose their jobs.”
Lapid declared that the next decade should be the decade of education, in which Israel would put schooling atop its list of priorities in order to return to the top of the world’s rankings in education.
He lamented that Israel had fallen far behind other countries in math and science.
Lapid’s goals include bridging the social gaps, stopping an obsession with tests and transferring the focal point of management from the Education Ministry to school principals and teachers. He would form a professional national council for education in an effort to separate education from politics and set a standard “educational basket” that every child would receive.
Lapid would significantly cut the number of matriculation tests from 12 to only four: math, English, reading comprehension and one elective.
There would still be grades in subjects such as Bible, biology, civics and literature but they would not be measured by standardized testing.
“Teachers should not be enslaved by the testing industry,” Lapid said.
“They should be busy with teaching, learning, enlightenment and education and we should trust that they know how to teach. The insanity over tests must stop.”
In an interview with Army Radio, former education minister Yossi Sarid (Meretz) called Lapid’s plan “demagoguery.”