Sa’ar: Civics supervisor’s firing was fair

Teachers argue Education Ministry worker was sacked for political reasons; School trips to be subsidized by 40%-80%.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar_311 (photo credit: Muki Schwartz)
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar_311
(photo credit: Muki Schwartz)
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar defended on Monday his ministry’s director-general’s decision to fire Civics Supervisor Adar Cohen, saying it was fair and well-thought out.
“I fully back the decision,” Sa’ar told the Knesset Education, Sport and Culture Committee.
“I am not saying that Cohen is not talented, but in the end, things were examined fairly, and the ability to think critically will not be harmed.”
Several teachers in the meeting argued that Cohen, who was hired during the previous education minister Yuli Tamir’s time, was fired for political reasons.
“Although we want to educate our students to be critical and creative, they are getting the opposite message from the institution, which is that they must be obedient,” Pedro Goldfer, a teacher from the Nofei Tzur school near the Gaza Strip, said. “I came to Israel in 1981 from a military dictatorship in Argentina. I must say that I see signs of totalitarianism in the education system, and we must be careful.”
Yael, a civics teacher, said that Cohen’s firing damaged teachers’ trust in the Education Ministry and would reverse progress made in the civics curriculum.
MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beytenu), a former Education Committee chairman, told the teachers they were turning the committee meeting into a circus.
“Those who do not take their job seriously, and use their authority for their own personal goals, must take personal responsibility, he said. “The Education Ministry’s decision not to give Cohen tenure was professional and responsible.”
Sa’ar responded that he did not know who would replace Cohen, but he expected the ministry’s decision to be respected.
He added that Tzvi Tzameret, the former chairman of the Education Ministry’s pedagogical department, recommended that Cohen be fired a year ago, but Sa’ar took the advice of his ministry’s director-general to give the civics supervisor another chance.
“Meanwhile, nobody touched a hair on your head, and you are expressing yourselves freely, as in a democratic country,” Sa’ar quipped to the teachers.
Cohen’s firing was raised at an Education Committee meeting in which Sa’ar presented preparations for the school year that begins on August 27.
At the meeting, Sa’ar announced that the price of class trips would be subsidized at a rate of 40-80 percent, depending on the socioeconomic status of each school’s students, which would cost the Education Ministry NIS 270 million.
The Education Ministry would emphasize ”trips with values that deepen the love of our homeland and nature,” Sa’ar said.
Almost 80% of three- and four-year-olds will receive free education this school year, and Sa’ar said the ministry was working to reduce prices of schoolbooks.
Teachers’ Union secretary-general Yosi Wasserman said he was happy that the 2012- 2013 school year would open “respectably,” without a strike, and that preschool teachers would work 36 hours per week like other educators.
Education Committee chairwoman Einat Wilf (Independence) closed the meeting by saying she would continue to follow the issues raised.
Wilf added that she would continue to allow teachers to use her committee as a platform to raise their concerns.