New Education Min. Expected to Undo Controversial Policies

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar intends to meet the teachers' organization heads this week to discuss potential cooperation. The organizations expect he will change some of the previous minister's policies that led to disputes and confrontations.

Sa'ar said he did not believe in "dividing [and conquering] the teachers' organizations." He was speaking during Shabbat Tarbut at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art yesterday.

He is scheduled to meet Secondary School Teachers' Association chairman Ran Erez this evening and Teachers Union head Yossi Wasserman tomorrow evening.

Sa'ar said he intended to discuss the New Horizon reform education, introduced by his predecessor Yuli Tamir, later this week.

The reform, which has been implemented in some 800 schools over the past year, led to disputes between Tamir and the SSTA, especially over its implementation in junior high schools. Two weeks ago the SSTA petitioned the Regional Labor Court in Jerusalem against the education and finance ministries, demanding to halt the introduction of the reform in more schools. Most of the schools that adopted the reform are elementary level.

In the past year the SSTA published ads attacking Tamir over the reform. Tamir said Erez had threatened and extorted the Education Ministry for years and was largely responsible for some of the education system's failures.

Erez accused Tamir and the outgoing government of breaking their agreements with the teachers.

An Education Ministry official said yesterday that he expected Sa'ar to cooperate with Erez. "Tamir preferred to work with the TU, which signed the reform agreement. It was convenient, but led to confrontations with the SSTA. Sa'ar will try to cooperate with Erez," he said.

Sa'ar submitted a no-confidence motion in the government on the Likud's behalf about a year and a half ago.

"These tactics of divide and conquer between the teachers' organizations will get you nowhere," he said, addressing Tamir. "I suggest you don't try to isolate the SSTA."

An SSTA official said yesterday that the association expects the new minister to take a different approach.