High Court blasts haredi school curriculum

High Court says Ministry of Education failed to introduce core curriculum in haredi yeshivot.

haredi children (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
haredi children
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The High Court of Justice on Sunday blasted the Education Ministry for allegedly ignoring a ruling it handed down four years ago ordering it either to introduce the teaching of a core curriculum in haredi schools financed by the state or to stop financing them. A panel of three justices including Ayala Procaccia, Salim Joubran and Acting Justice Uzi Fogelman ruled that had it not been for the fact that the Knesset last week passed a law granting 60 percent state financing for schools that do not teach the core curriculum, they would have accepted the petitions calling for implementation of the court's ruling. The petitions were filed by the Religious Action Center of the Progressive Movement in Israel and the High School, Seminar and College Teachers Association. They called on the court to order the ministry to implement the court's 2004 ruling and immediately introduce the core curriculum in yeshivas for children of high school age or deny them any state funding. The core curriculum in high schools includes Jewish studies, civics, geography, Hebrew, English, mathematics, science and physical education. It is not taught at all in the yeshivas for haredim of high school age. Four school years have passed since the original court ruling without the Education Ministry implementing it in the yeshivot for boys. "The Education Ministry did not prove it made any real and determined effort to use the three years granted it by the High Court at the state's request, to advance the core curriculum in secondary education for boys in the haredi sector and to fulfill the obligation and responsibility of the ministry in this matter," wrote Procaccia. "The 2008 school year began and ended without the core curriculum being put into operation and without even showing the first signs of a genuine preparation to put the curriculum into operation any time soon. The picture that emerged before the court regarding the degree of awareness of the obligation of the ministry and the education minister to fulfill their duty in accordance with the original ruling was very woeful." Procaccia charged that the state's behavior regarding this matter undermined the rule of law. "The significance of the lack of adherence to the verdict by the authorized body is very great," the judge continued. "It extends beyond the issue at hand, as important as that is. Indeed, it goes to the heart of the rule of law and the obligation on the part of the branches of government to observe proper administration." According to Procaccia, "the aim of the core curriculum is to develop among students basic knowledge, proficiency and values of a communal life which will enable each one to function independently in a pluralistic and Israeli society. The core curriculum is based on a broad common denominator, on humanist, universal values and on the fact that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state."