MKs propose replacing parental school fees with tax money

Knesset Education Committee chairman Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad) concluded after a discussion of parental school fees on Wednesday that the only option was to fight for tax money to replace the money parents now contribute to cover their children's school expenses. Education Minister Yuli Tamir (Labor) told the panel the ministry had spent six months developing a progressive plan for school fees, administered by the National Insurance Institute, which had both the experience and statistics to collect them. But the institute's new director-general, appointed a month and a half ago, she said, who did not support the plan at all. "[At that point] we tried to find alternatives - there aren't any," Tamir said. While the progressive-fees plan seems to have been stymied, other MKs and experts favored an alternative mechanism - eliminating school fees altogether and increasing taxes to cover the shortfall. NIS 2.5 billion per year was needed to make up the gap, according to Tamir. "We must stop school fees once and for all," said Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, executive director of the National Council of the Child. "Stop the addiction to this drug." MK Zevulun Orlev (National Union-National Religious Party) agreed. "I was in the minority who thought this [ministry] model would never work. Why should parents pay what amounts to a fine? Why shouldn't the entire population pay? That is the Langerman model," Orlev said, referring to the The Langerman Committee which decided on the tax money model. Tamir said that Langerman represented the second-best model, but that she was willing to give it her full support. "We cannot have free education and collect fees," Melchior said. "There is only one option: to accept Langerman. But we know the Treasury won't accept that. So let's draft legislation and go for it full speed ahead, and hope to get the cabinet's support, and we'll fight the Treasury on this."