September 3, 2017: Quality of Education

Read today's letters.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Quality of education
With regard to “School daze” (Editorial, August 31), the poor quality of Israeli education compared to the rest of the developed world will remain until the problem is identified and rectified.
Is the quality of Israeli teachers below that of the US, where teachers tend to be grossly underpaid and under-respected? Probably not, or not sufficiently poor to cause Israel to be in 40th place in science among countries in the OECD! Can one even think of 39 OECD countries whose students should be more proficient than those in the country that has one of the best air forces in the world, is a leader in medical research and technology, funds its education system second only to its military and whose classrooms are not overcrowded – although “40 to 50% of [its] teachers leave the profession within the first four years”? Having taught for three years at the Alliance High School in Ramat Aviv, I can tell you the cure for Israeli education in a few simple words: respect for the teacher, perhaps brought about, in part, by teacher toughness. No pupil dared call me by my first name; morati (teacher) was fine or Miss Ruth.
We were not equals – I had knowledge to impart, and they had to absorb it.
The Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research defines the problem as “what is being taught and the quality of the teachers.” If you switch to a different math textbook, the problem will persist. The real cause must be addressed to raise Israel’s shameful educational achievements compared to the rest of the developed world.
An end to good work
I noted with interest the article “MK calls to stop Mevaseret Absorption Center evacuation at the last minute” (August 29), which reported that steps were being taken to challenge the legality of the sale of the absorption center and that there was an appeal to delay the closure for three years.
Without commenting on the closure or the eviction of the olim, I would like to highlight another unfortunate result of the action.
In 2015, Telfed (South African Zionist Federation, Israel) opened a second-hand clothing and household-goods store on the premises of the absorption center at the invitation of the Jewish Agency. It was disclosed to us at the time that our occupancy was subject to a building clause.
The shop, known as TECI YAD 2, was a source for quality items at low cost for residents, as well as for numerous residents of the surrounding areas. It received donations of merchandise from as far afield as Ra’anana, Ramat Hasharon, Herzliya and elsewhere.
Members of the Telfed community were major contributors to the project. Staffed entirely by volunteers, the income generated was utilized for projects benefiting the Ethiopian-Israeli community.
In mid-June, we received a notice from the Jewish Agency to vacate the premises by the end of August on the grounds that the property would be redeveloped.
We appealed unsuccessfully for an extension to the twomonth notice period we had been given. (Presumably, that period was due to the imminent start of construction activities.) From your article, it now appears that there are questions regarding the legality of the transfer of the property to the Jewish Agency’s pension fund.
As a result, there could be a delay in implementation of the transaction and the start of construction.
It seems a shame that we were not able to receive an extension to our occupancy to continue our good work until such time as the premises we occupied were needed for redevelopment.
Our search for alternative premises was unsuccessful, so our volunteers worked toward vacating by the end of August, when our project came to an end. Good work sacrificed by bureaucracy?
The writer heads the Telfed Ethiopian Community Initiative (TECI).
Local attitudes
Like Susan Hattis Rolef (“Smartphone blues,” Think About It, August 28), I received an e-mail and two phone messages on my un-smartphone telling me my Partner account had been upgraded and providing me with a form to sign in confirmation.
Since my phone cannot connect to the Internet, this surfing upgrade was irrelevant. But my local Partner office refused to delete the package, merely pointing out that it was free of charge. I was treated rather contemptuously by impatient clerks.
When my husband and I originally signed up with the multi-national Orange, we were impressed with its customer care. How attitudes seem to have changed since the Israeli company Partner took over.
Those weekly demos
With regard to “Erdan: Protesters against Mandelblit are anarchists” (August 27), I have tried following the Saturday night demonstrations in Petah Tikva, as it is impossible to avoid them in newspapers and on radio and TV.
The demonstrations have been going on for over half a year. I am not sure what the demonstrators are really demanding, but the whole thing is now a big weekly happening for thousands who enjoy the company and seem to have nothing better to do on Saturday evenings. The protests are growing and will soon require a stadium to meet.
The organizers are getting enormous publicity, particularly the main instigators, with a big boost to their egos. But they are costing the courts time and money. They will never get what they demand, even if just to give them the satisfaction of success.
Enough is enough!
Why they leave I have deep sympathy and empathy for the parents concerning “Our children left Israel” (Observations, August 25). It is a heartbreak to lose part of our treasured extended families because of our shortcomings, whether it is the stressful language, Middle East mentality, standard of living, mind-numbing bureaucracy or inadequate political system.
In his haste as a leader, David Ben-Gurion, our first prime minister, was in error to appease the ultra-Orthodox; many of them still live in self-imposed poverty and non-allegiance. It has left us with an inferior and unstable political system that is in conflict because it lacks constituency representation. It has taken away a voice from citizens who wish to debate their frustration and aggravations.
These demoralized and vulnerable individuals are left behind without the umbrella of an indispensable, protective constitution that would include checks and balances against an otherwise flawed system. This has bought out the worst in our political leadership, with a collection of charlatans, including a past president and ex-prime minister, as well as assorted Knesset members, mayors and even a former chief rabbi, who now sit or have sat behind bars as a result of their greed and corruption.
One of our essential priorities should be to change the system of cronyism in party lists for Knesset representation. Continually, we are electing second-rate legislators devoid of caliber and competence who should serve their constituents, not their party functionaries.
To me, yerida (leaving Israel) is an ugly word with a connotation of failure. How successful would we be with a well-functioning government? Is anyone listening?
Sinking low
As an avid reader of The Jerusalem Post, I have been disappointed to watch this revered newspaper sink to the level of The New York Times: anti-Trump, anti-Bibi, anti-religious Orthodoxy. What’s next: anti-Israel?
New York/Jerusalem