Who is to blame for dispute between Finance Ministry, Israeli teachers? - poll

Israelis have their say on the ongoing teachers' crisis as no agreement made yet, two days before Israel's schools are set to open.

 EDUCATION MINISTER Yifat Shasha-Biton visits a classroom last year. Will this school year open on time?  (photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
EDUCATION MINISTER Yifat Shasha-Biton visits a classroom last year. Will this school year open on time?
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)

Education Minister Yifat Shasha Biton (National Unity) received a failing score for her functioning during the ongoing salary dispute between the Finance Ministry and the Teachers Union, a new poll by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) found.

On a scale of one to five, Shasha Biton received a score of 2.72 on her conduct regarding the dispute.

The Finance Ministry and Teachers Union have been holding ongoing talks for weeks but have not yet come to an agreement, two days before Israel's schools are set to open. The teachers are threatening to go on strike and delay the beginning of the school year if a deal is not reached.  

The poll was taken as part of the IDI's monthly Israel Voice Index for August and conducted by Prof. Tamar Hermann and Dr. Or Anabi. It also found that on a scale from one to 10, the average grade given to the education system as a whole is 4.62. Interestingly, this number was higher amongst Arab Israeli participants (5.18) than Jewish Israelis (4.51), despite the fact that the Arab education system receives fewer resources, and its students on average have lower educational achievements.

The poll asked a number of additional questions regarding the education system, including whether or not participants supported opening private schools, whether the education system should shift from a six-day to a five-day week, whether improving teachers' pay will improve the quality of teaching, and why participants thought no deal had been reached yet.

 YAFFA BEN-DAVID, head of the Teachers’ Union, greets teachers participating in a demonstration in Tel Aviv in May demanding better pay and work conditions. (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90) YAFFA BEN-DAVID, head of the Teachers’ Union, greets teachers participating in a demonstration in Tel Aviv in May demanding better pay and work conditions. (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

Israelis think all parties to blame for teachers' crisis

Regarding opening private schools, the poll did not find a clear inclination either way, although there was a slight advantage to those who oppose this move. Among Israeli Jews, 56% of those who identified as Center-Left opposed the move, versus a slightly smaller 49% on the Right.

A majority of participants (55%) supported switching to a five-day school week. Support was much stronger among Arab Israelis (70%) than among Jews (52%). In addition, people with below-average incomes, of whom some work six days a week, were less likely to support the move than people who earned average or above-average wages.

A clear majority of 70% believed that improving teachers' working conditions, including increasing their salary, would bring better teachers to the education system. Of these, 88% of people who defined themselves as left-wing believed this, versus 70% of those who belonged to the Center and 69% of people on the Right.

Finally, asked why no agreement had been reached yet between the Finance Ministry and the Teachers Union, 32% blamed the Teachers Union for power issues or political considerations and the exact same percentage blamed the Finance Ministry for the same reasons. 22% of participants believed that the lack of an agreement was due to the distance between the two sides' positions.

However, a clear split emerged between people who voted in the previous election for parties in the coalition versus people who voted for parties in the opposition. 42% of coalition voters blamed the Teachers Union versus just 25% of opposition voters, while 40% of opposition voters blamed the Finance Ministry, and just 28% blamed the teachers.