Politicians will need approval to enter schools - Education Minister Kisch

Previous Education Minister Shasha-Biton called the move a 'giant step towards dictatorship'.

Likud MK Yoav Kisch (photo credit: Courtesy)
Likud MK Yoav Kisch
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Any politician who wishes to appear in a school will need approval from Education Minister Yoav Kisch, according to a letter sent by Kisch's office on Tuesday evening to regional educational directors and first reported by Channel 12.

"I wish to clarify that in any request sent to you or your subordinates by a politician from the Knesset or government, from all sides of the political spectrum, the minister's office should be notified," the letter said.

"Furthermore, there is no approval for any politician to directly or indirectly enter the territory of institutions belonging to the Education Ministry without the minister's approval," the letter added.

Harsh criticism against the letter

The letter, which was penned by Kisch's chief of staff lawyer Asif Kazoula, drew harsh criticism from the opposition.

"Minister Kisch's decision that he is the only one who will approve the entry of politicians into schools, and decide who is allowed to enter and who is not, is scandalous and brings us giant steps closer to a dictatorship in the education system as well," previous education minister and National Unity MK Yifat Shasha-Biton said.

Yifat Shasha Biton (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)Yifat Shasha Biton (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

"The decision introduces partisan politicization into a system that believes in the education of children. The coup d'etat is happening in the education system as well, and from now on any decision on the matter will be painted in political colors," Shasha-Biton said.

Labor MK Gilad Kariv announced that on Thursday he would visit a school in Herzliya at its principal's request.

"Minister Kisch believes in privatizing the education system up until the point of teaching democratic principles of education and active citizenship, where he is interested in monopolization and control," Kariv said.

"Perhaps the minister forgot that he is the education minister and not the reeducation minister, but he will discover that the principals, teachers, local authorities and especially parents, will not let him fulfill his disastrous intentions.

"His belief in policing people's thoughts will not enter our children's schools," Kariv said.

Yesh Atid MK Moshe Turpaz wrote a letter to Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara in which he argued that Kisch's directive was illegal, since by law Knesset members are allowed to enter any place in the country that is not private property.

In addition, Turpaz argued that "this prohibition directly affects the work of Knesset members, since it is their professional and moral duty to meet with the public and learn about the difficulties it faces in order to have the capabilities to assist in a professional manner."

The Education Ministry said in response:

"The Education Ministry's role is first and foremost to protect and advance all of Israel's children. No parent in the State of Israel agrees or wants a politician on the Right or Left entering our children's schools or preschools without prior approval. The minister's chief of staff's message was meant to remind the existing law, in order to prevent schools from becoming political arenas on the Right and Left and in order to maintain the neutral public reputation of the education system and its workers, as is appropriate. The only thing that stands before us is the welfare and advancement of all of the children of Israel."