As if the Minister Would Ever Resign

Livnat's short-lived part in Netanyahu's kindergarten putsch was no accident. Next week will be ladder-building week - making one to get Benjamin Netanyahu down from his roof.

Next week will be ladder-building week - making one to get Benjamin Netanyahu down from his roof - and there is no better ladder for climbing down than the campaign conducted for the sake of the education minister, who was also on the roof and crying for help to get down.

In the end, she did not even wait for the ladder and decided, for safety's sake, to dive down head first, a daring leap reminiscent of her jump on the victor's podium at the recent Summer Olympics.

Livnat's short-lived part in Netanyahu's kindergarten putsch was no accident. As education minister she has long since handed her ministry over to the treasury, and from every practical perspective the Education Ministry is no longer independent or capable of formulating policy on its own.

The ministry director general, Ronit Tirosh, didn't waste time and, the day after the aborted putsch, called in the heads of local authorities and the members of the Dovrat Commission so they could warn of the collapse of the "reforms" if Livnat, heaven forbid, stuck to her word and quit.

The sirens require a calming call - first of all, don't worry, there was never even the slightest chance that Livnat would resign. Secondly, in any case, there is no chance that the Dovrat conclusions will actually be implemented.

The chairman of the commission, Shlomo Dovrat, is a good man with good intentions. Very busy and successful in his realm of activity, he donated a large part of his time, effort and money for the sake of the community, and his commitment to the advancement of education is genuine.

In the report prepared by the commission there are important recommendations that should be adopted, and there are terrible recommendations that should be rejected.

There will yet be a broad public debate about all the recommendations when the final report is finally submitted in another two months. Meanwhile, the recommendations are nothing more than a scholarly paper, without a hint of a timetable or budgets. Recommendations without money and deadlines are meaningless.

Dovrat should be warned. A good man can be exploited by bad people, and that is precisely what is happening to him now. They've already used your commission not to do anything for the last two years: waiting for Dovrat has been interpreted to mean that there's no need to lift a finger for education's sake. Who will give back the two missing years - and the many more years of "preparations" that will yet follow - to the students and pupils?

The government may have declared its commitment to the commission report, but at the same time it continues cutting the education budget, and in 2005, another sharp cut is included in the budget, the 15th cut in Livnat's term in office. Only two examples of many: in 2005, between five to six weekly hours of classroom time will be cut from every student's schedule.

There has never been anything like it since the establishment of the state. Is it easier to cut when one can wave around the name of the Dovrat Commission, as if any moment salvation will arrive for our collapsing education system?

The second example - in 2005, like 2004, there is practically no money for building new classrooms. Maybe, by hook or crook, 700 to 800 classrooms will be built, compared to 2,500 in previous years. The overcrowding in the classrooms is suffocating.

That is how the Dovrat Commission recommendations begin - with a further retreat, and how out of that nothingness will something suddenly appear? Dovrat and his commission members supposedly have solutions.

There is no choice but to ask if one is worthy of being education minister who did not resign over 15 separate cuts in the education budget - more than NIS 3 billion - but pretends to quit over a "referendum"? Maybe we should have a referendum on that important question.

There is in fact an excellent candidate to replace the minister, whose priorities have now been exposed - the settlements in Gaza over classrooms and hours in school. His name is Shlomo Dovrat. We can only suspect he would resign quickly because of his correct priorities after it becomes evident to him that he is being deceived.

Netanyahu, with his world view and policies, has never even dreamt of providing the billions needed by the reforms.