Education System / Passing the Test

The results test. Is our education system really as bad as we love to claim? If we judge it by the results tests, it is impossible to ignore the near-zero rate of draft evasion and the high rate of volunteering for combat service, as well as the fact that our technology industries are among the most advanced in the world. Is the education system truly responsible only for the failures? Then who is responsible for the successes? Television? Parents? No, I won't argue that we have an excellent education system. We have a problematic one, which instills too little knowledge and too few values. But we should question our habit of belittling it overmuch.

The responsibility test. This is particularly difficult to digest, because the less responsible the teachers are for the failures in education, the more responsible, apparently, are we, the parents. Take the example of children's leisure-time pursuits. Fairness demands that we ask whether we can genuinely expect the same results from the education system in this era of multi-channel TV and of the Internet as in the era of the book. Can we really expect children to demonstrate the same knowledge and values as earlier generations? And in a society in which happiness, and not fulfillment and meaning, is the main goal, can we blame the schools for not instilling other values in our children?

The sucker test. There is a general assumption among the public that teachers are essentially a bunch of mediocre women whose only goal in life is to return home each day to their own children. I have no figures to contradict this assumption apart from my expectations as the father of three with a combined 23 years of school. All the teachers I have met were caring people who were willing to invest time and effort on creative problem-solving. Teaching is a profession that by definition attracts suckers, people who work to change the world for minimal pay and with rotten conditions, and I mean that as a compliment.

The parents test. One of the most important distinctions that should be made is between parental involvement and parental interference in the education system. The latter makes teachers feel that nobody "has their back" and that parents will always support their child against the teacher, and then we ask ourselves why there's no discipline in school and why our kids lack boundaries and why they think they can do whatever they like.

The budget test. And as long as we're on the subject of parental involvement, when was the last time we demanded accountability from our elected officials on the number of instruction hours our children receive, on the number of children in each classroom, the number of classrooms in each school, on the implementation of the longer school day and the number of civics, Zionism and Jewish history classes? If we don't demand accountability, then the crisis in education belongs to us more than it does to the teachers, and no less than it does to the politicians. And can anyone tell us how much of the NIS 7.6 billion budget surplus for this year was supposed to go to education?