Education Minister Yuli Tamir, until now considered a close friend of the haredi community, is refusing to fund extended hours for private kindergartens. The vast majority of these schools are haredi or Arab. Yated Ne’eman, the mouthpiece of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, promptly ran banner headlines declaring, “Education Minister Declares War On Haredi Education!”. But is it so?
Ynet notes these statistics:
There are 289,380 students in the haredi educational system. 52,998 pupils attend so-called “recognized but unofficial” institutions, which implement a portion of the core curriculum and therefore receive 75 percent of potential funding. 43,318 children study in “exempt” institutions, which are more pedagogically independent and receive only 55 percent of potential funding. 172,949 haredi students are enrolled in kindergartens, special education, and Shas’s Maayan HaChinuch HaTorani and United Torah Judaism’s Chinuch Atzmai educational networks.
Thus, the haredi institutions’ pedagogical independence and right to choose their own curricula comes at a price. In effect, these schools lose between 25 to 45 percent of their potential budgetary funding. Of course, this cutback is self-imposed, but haredi educational officials insist that they basically have no choice.
Shas’s Maayan HaChinuch HaTorani and United Torah Judaism’s Chinuch Atzmai educational networks–both geared to the newly observant and children from non-Orthodox homes–are treated as public schools because these schools include secular studies in their curriculum and meet the state’s educational requirements. The other haredi schools do not.
Fresh from a war where few haredim served and at a time when the country needs to rebuild much of the north, haredim continue to demand special state privileges. Haredim are a tremendous drain on the state, using a disproportionately high amount of welfare and other services and paying in a disproportionally small amount of tax dollars and revenue. In other words, haredim make lots of babies they can’t pay for and educate those children so poorly they cannot function in society well enough to make a living. And they do this by choice, not because of discrimination or other disadvantage.
Yet haredi leaders continue to fight a war against the very secular education that would both bring their education systems more money and also provide their children with a fighting chance of gainful employment– and they do so with a particular noxious flair:
“Just because the father chose a certain type of education, the child shouldn’t receive? That’s why an innocent child who doesn’t know anything has to suffer? If the Education Minister would come and say to us: ‘You – you don’t have total budgeting…’ But to boycott us? We live in a state that still boycotts us? How did we get here? We have many children and educational institutions in the north, who suffered exactly like the rest of the Nation of Israel. So why are they being sentenced like the Arabs?” Rabbi Yitzchak Goldknopf, a senior haredi educational administrator who closely followed the proceedings at the Knesset, wonders.…
We should fund your child abuse because that abuse is your fault, not the child’s? It is that type of confused reasoning, along with gratuitous racism and disregard for fact, that so alienates secular Israelis from haredim and from Torah.