Kadima presents education platform

Education portfolio candidate Reichman wants to help teachers "do their job."

uriel reichman 88 (photo credit: )
uriel reichman 88
(photo credit: )
Prof. Uriel Reichman, Kadima's candidate for the education portfolio, said Sunday, "Our first move concerning the education system will be to call a summit of all the relevant bodies and start a process of talks and cooperation..." Such a process, Reichman said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, must be based on "an understanding that we are all responsible for the success of the education system, but that above all the responsibility falls to the teachers and principals, and that our role is to assist them so that they can do their job successfully."
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"Nothing can be done without cooperation and agreement. Reform must take place organically," Reichman said. "The commanders of the battle for education are the teachers and principals. These are people with unusual abilities, working under very difficult conditions, and we need to understand that we are entrusting our children to them," he said. Reichman's message of cooperation, which is primarily directed at the teachers' unions, clearly reflects an attempt to set a different tone than that which prevailed under former education minister Limor Livnat. Livnat's tenure ended with serious discord between the ministry and the country's teachers. Reichman said there were specific areas where he disagreed with the conclusions of the Dovrat Commission on educational reform appointed by Livnat, but that he had "profound esteem" for the commission's work. Indeed, Kadima's education platform reiterates salient points from the Dovrat report - including implementation of a long school day and redefinition of the responsibilities of school principals, who would receive additional training and be empowered to make decisions concerning the employment of teachers and school budgets. Like others across the political spectrum, Reichman emphasized the dangers that Israel's deteriorating education system posed for the country's future. "In a global marketplace, our economy is dependent on our level of education, and the state of affairs is not good," Reichman said. "At the same time, we are part of a regional environment that resists global thinking, and in which we will not be able to survive without highly developed technological abilities." "The right way to wage this battle is to create government-backed schools on a high standard, and I intend to fight for this," he said. Kadima's initial remedy for the system includes the "1,000 program," which Reichman said would entail immediate intervention in 250 elementary schools for a four-year period. Targeting schools where students' economic situation and scholastic achievements are the lowest, Kadima plans to implement a long school day, subsidized school lunches and smaller class sizes, he said. "The 1,000 program is intended to do away with the circle of poverty and poor education, and create an opportunity for social mobility and the ability to compete in the job market and earn a higher income," Reichman said. In the realm of higher education, Reichman - the outgoing president of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya - said he supported additional funds for scientific research. In addition, he underscored the importance of government-funded colleges in preparing students for the job market. Reichman also expressed support for increasing subsidies for higher education students, at the expense of the budgets allocated to the academic institutions themselves. "In an ideal world, it is the student, rather than the institution, who should be funded," he said. He emphasized, however, that he was referring to budgets for teaching, not for academic research - which he said the state must support on a massive scale. "Obviously you cannot entirely privatize the system, but [providing] greater subsidies to the student is the right approach," he said. Reichman said he opposed privatization of the public school system. "Privatization of the school system would only increase the [social] gaps and sense of alienation in Israeli society," he said. "I see the struggle to raise the level of the public school system as our last opportunity to prevent this."