Saturday, October 20, 2007

What Israeli Teachers Want

Yes, there's a teachers strike going on here, but not all teachers are striking.

There are two teachers unions, the Histadrut and the Irgun. Well, doesn't that sound familiar?

As you can probably guess, I'm a member of the Irgun Morim, not the Histadrut Morim. The Histadrut already signed with the government. It signed an agreement which cancels all of the incentives which made it possible for many to be teachers in Israel.

In Israel it has always been possible to work part-time as teachers. Mothers of children under the age of 14 needed to teach fewer hours to be considered full-time. After fifty and then again after fifty-five there is a reduction in the amount of hours to get a full-time salary. Not that a full-time salary is very high.

Since Israeli schools generally aren't very big, many teachers need more than one school for a full-time job or enough money to live on.

In recent years, classes are getting larger. To save money, schools fill the classes with the maximum number of students. Schools get paid per student. A few years ago there was a concept of "minimal class size," kita tiknit. A school got a budget per class. The building I teach in was built during that time. Now we need more kids in each class to cover expenses, and the classrooms are crowded.

The much heralded "reform," which the Israeli Government claims will improve things is just a reworking of the Dovrat Reform, which was horrid. It didn't deal with lowering class size and improving curriculum and teaching methods.

The politicians are convinced that we old teachers, those who taught during the days when Israeli students ranked high in international studies, don't know how to teach. They want young academics to take over. They want "serious" full-time teachers who will keep factory office hours.

That way there won't be time to take professional courses or run errands. Day care will have to increase hours, too. They think teachers are stupid. The teachers quickly calculated the increased hours and the suggested pay and discovered that the per hour pay would be less than it is today.


The Histadrut signed it. And most of the teachers I know who are members never even checked it out. They trust that it'll be fine.

The Irgun is striking, but in my school, we aren't allowed to. That's a problem. I think we ought to strike.

And back to the title..
What do we Israeli teachers want? We want conditions which would make teaching better for the kids to learn. We want smaller classes and less stressed-out teachers. We're stressed out, because our conditions and salaries are substandard.


Anonymous said...

Links to articles on teh strike and other workers / union issues in Israel can be found here:

See also

>> Arieh Lebowitz
>> Communications Director
>> Jewish Labor Committee

Batya said...

arieh, thanks for the info