Dovrat worries Education portfolio has become a booby prize

Hi-tech entrepreneur speaks at EduAction Forum on the relationship between education and economy in Israel.

Shlomo Dovrat (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Shlomo Dovrat
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Education Ministry is in danger of becoming a “compensation” portfolio, hi-tech entrepreneur Shlomo Dovrat says.
Dovrat, who headed the government-appointed 2003-2004 Dovrat Commission on reforming the education system, spoke on Wednesday at the EduAction Forum on the relationship between education and economy in Israel, which took place at the YMCA in the capital.
President Reuven Rivlin said that teaching the “core curriculum [in haredi schools] should not be a condition for coalition negotiations, that is a mistake. To my great regret, each community and ethnic group is entrenching itself and building walls. I await the day when the intended education minister declares that he received the most important portfolio in the State of Israel and outright rejects the Defense portfolio.”
The forum opened with a discussion about the Dovrat Report on its 10-year anniversary.
The forum is sponsored by the Mifal Hapayis national lottery.
Dovrat spoke about the state of kindergartens and said the system cannot allow them to become merely babysitters for parents, as this is a critical time in a child’s development. Class sizes can be brought down to 28 children per class if the education system can cut overhead from its current 17 to 10 percent of expenses, he said.
MK Shai Piron (Yesh Atid), who until recently was education minister, said his way to get things done was to act quietly with the teachers unions, rather than making a lot of noise. He mentioned his satisfaction that the plans for the 5775/76 (2015/16) school year will stay in place, as it is too late for a new minister to make changes.
Piron said that it is important for the incoming education minister to understand that having a national education council would not tie his or her hands and that the considerations must not be political. He invited those elected to the council to discuss the state of the education system with him.
Yossi Vaserman, head of the National Teachers Union, said that he has already been in touch with Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, likely to be the next education minister, but thinks there may still be surprises with regards to the identity of the incoming minister.
Prof. Alvin Roth of Stanford University, 2012 recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, joined Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in a discussion on education and the implementation of economic theory in the public sector. Roth is well known for his practical work in the public sector, such as his changes to the application process for students seeking admission to high schools in New York and Boston.
Other issues discussed at the conference included minimizing social gaps through education, the importance of financial education, the exclusion of women and their trend to earn less, core curriculum (i.e., math and English) in the ultra-Orthodox world, the level of technological education in Israel, and the practical skills gained in institutions of higher learning.