Students Staff Strike Tent to Express Support for Teachers

In its nearly five-week strike, the Secondary School Teachers Association has so far not enjoyed a massive show of support from the student body. However, many students do support the strike - despite the fact that it runs contrary to their best interests.

The protest tent which the teachers set up in front of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem hosted more teachers than students on Tuesday. But the tent, set up by Boyar High School, was meant to be "an alternative school" that would recruit more teenagers for the cause.

Liz Maman, an 11th-grader at Boyar, was one of the few students who came. "We had more students coming in before," she says, "but that's how it goes." In other words, teens can't be expected to resist the temptation to sleep late, and instead drag themselves to the tent still covered in dew in the morning chill.

"Maybe they got tired," Maman says, referring to the 300 teenagers who came to the tent on Sunday night and never came back. The people who organized the event, the members of the Jerusalemite Forum of Teenagers for Education, are now working on the next event.

Those few students who did come to the tent on Tuesday said they were in full support of the teachers. But after Maman's friends dutifully and convincingly recited the cliches regarding the teachers' fight, they went on to acknowledge that the strike would have negative consequences for the student body.

The students share the teachers' long-term interests of improving education, but realize that in the short-term they will end up holding the short end of the stick. They speak of the damage the strike has caused to their prospects of succeeding in the matriculation exams, and the massive loss of time and material.

"We've already lost 20 history classes," Maman says. "They'll have to take some of the material off the exam."

Gal, Maman's classmate, says she shares the concern, and regards the strike as a belated uprising "after years of problems" which requires an immediate change to the system. "We're very worried about the matriculation exams, but we won't be the ones who tell the teachers to pack it in," Gal said. "We're ready to sacrifice our studies."

Another student, Bar, says that after he got involved with the struggle, he found the teachers had sacrificed a lot for the students. "They could have done something else with their education, but they chose this job which pays nothing."