As an educator and a mother and grandmother of children who went/go to school in Israel I have mixed feelings about our current teachers' strike that is now into its third week.
First of all I do believe in the right to strike and I do believe that our teachers are underpaid. That said, I must also state that I have found that this country has too many teachers who are in the business for the short days and long vacations.
I am trying to be fair. I started teaching when I was five and my kindergarten teacher said, 'Marallyn, will you go over there and help Jonny?'
That was it. That was when I discovered the joy of sharing knowledge. I firmly believe that real teachers are born not made.
Most of our teachers here are babysitters...not educators. If they have to be on page 9 by Tuesday, come hell or high water they are on page 9 by Tuesday. Never mind that most of the class is looking at her like she is from Mars.
But at least 10% are angels. Really, takkeh angels and if your kid is lucky enough to have this teacher he/she will be truely blessed.
The norm in this country is that the teachers talk and the parents teach. And if they can't then they hire people like me to do the work.
For fifteen years I built and ran a learning center in Jerusalem for learning disabled kids and for kids who got lost in the classroom. I am appalled at the lack of education going on. Most families have private tutors for English, Math, and Grammar? Why? What's going on in the classrooms?
I know the classes are large. I know the teachers are underpaid. I know that the budget has been cut back drastically and that the last intifada almost broke the bank. But a teacher has a sacred trust--she/he is to impart knowledge. They don't have to like their students. They just have to teach them.
And they don't.
We need more men in education and in order to attract them we have to give them a decent wage so that they can support their families. We have to give women a decent wage so that they are proud of a job well done.
It is like a dog chasing it's tail. Everyone has a complaint and everyone is right.
What would I do? I would start from scratch. I would fire all the teachers. All of them. And during the two months of the summer review their qualifications...their class results. The principals of every school know exactly who their staff is. And someone has to evaluate the principals.Then, start rehiring them. And in the meantime I would begin a massive educational program in the universities to attract people to join the education family. High standards...high expectations...and the students finish with a degree they can be proud of.
We have a huge untapped resource here and what is more important than our children? These are smart kids. I have never, in all my years of teaching, met a kid who doesn't want to learn. I have, however, met hundreds who couldn't learn without help.
Years ago I interviewed a family to start studying at Shar Patuach and I will never ever forget what the young kid said to me. He said, 'I'm only smart on the weekends.'
'Why?'I asked. 'Cuz that's when I'm home with my Mom.'
Kids are smart every day. Kids are wonderful every day. We just have to find their special spark and help them shine.
What upsets me the most about this strike is that they are useing the twelfth graders as hostages. Our twelfth graders go into the army right after they finish school in June. Some go immediately and others have a few months' wait...depending on their birthdays. And their winter matriculation exams are in December and the summer ones are in May through June with a second chance to redo English and Math (that's a whole other blog) in July.
As it stands these kids will not be ready. And trust me the striking teachers know that. Kids should not be hostages. If you have a good enough complaint then it should stand alone. Strike in the summer and during the holidays in September and October. Do something...anything.
Our teachers see our kids more than we do. They have a phenomenal influence on our children. And they have an obligation.
Should the teachers be paid more? Of course they should. Should the classrooms be smaller? Of course they should. Should more money be poured into the school system for art and music and computers and and and? Of course it should.
So now you know why I have mixed feelings.
For the time being I have put my trip to the states on hold. As soon as they all go back to school I will probably have twelfth graders who need to get ready for their matriculation exams. No problem. I wanted to see the snow...I'll see the spring...or summer...or whatever.
Never a dull moment in Israel. And I haven't even mentioned that mamzer Achmadinadoodle who wants to vaporize us! Sigh.
OK, off I go to meet my wonderful Cousin Sheldon, the dentist. Another check on the teeth. They are great. Happy, lucky, smiling me. :)
Have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.