Tirosh blasts maneuvering to benefit haredi schools

MK accuses Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar of "blurring the lines" of his coalition agreement with Gafni's party.

ronit tirosh 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
ronit tirosh 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
A day before the Knesset Education Committee began preparing the so-called Gafni Law for its second and third readings on the Knesset floor, MK Ronit Tirosh, who is leading opposition to the bill, accused Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar of "blurring the lines" of his coalition agreement with Gafni's party. Tirosh said that the bill, which would force local governments to subsidize the Agudath Israel and Shas-run recognized non-governmental schools, was supported by the government after it phrased the coalition agreement in such a way as to block a legal veto of the agreement. As part of it, the government agreed to support and pass a law to fund recognized non-governmental schools, without singling out the two haredi tracks as the sole benefactors. Other systems, such as the democratic schools, are also part of the category, but are not included in the Gafni Law, which specifies the two haredi tracks as the only recipients. Two weeks ago, the bill, which seeks to require local authorities to provide full funding for haredi schools that do not teach all of the nationally required subjects, passed its first reading on the Knesset floor by a vote of 39-25-1. Tirosh reiterated that should the law pass - as it is expected - its second and third readings, she would petition the High Court of Justice. The law would require local governments to provide a 100% subsidy for the two school systems, despite the fact that they do not teach courses of study required for government-sponsored schools. As a result of a law passed together with the 1992 budget, the government currently pays 100% of the funds available to schools run by United Torah Judaism and Shas - as opposed to 75% for other schools in the same category. Under the Nahari Law, local governments are required to fund all of the schools in the category by 75%, parallel to the national levels of funding. Tirosh said that in arguing that the UTJ and Shas schools already receive 100% funding from the national government, Sa'ar is "adding unfairness on top of already existing injustice." Furthermore, she argued, Sa'ar is giving up on the last "lever" that can be used to encourage haredi streams "to teach basic content - not even the entire national curriculum - but merely things that one needs to survive in the world, like basic computer knowledge and the basics of working as part of a democratic and civil society."