A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
August 31, 2008- Olmerts Last Gasps- New School Year Begins Inequity in Special Ed.
Prime Minister Olmert's term in office is most likely rapidly coming to an end. He seems determined to leave some positive mark on history (at least from his standpoint). Thus, he continues the charade of negotiations with Abbas on a final settlement framework. Today the absurd idea of bringing in the international community to settle the issues of Jerusalem was advanced by Olmert. How reckless. It has been Israel's policy to remove the international community from the question of Jerusalem, and despite this, in order to put off very difficult decisions about the city, Olmert has made this offer. Kadima elections will take place in a little over three weeks, luckily Olmert can not do too much damage between now and then.
Israeli schools open tomorrow. This year the school year is not opening with a strike, although one is threatened to take place after the holidays. At the moment approximately 15% of the students in Israeli schools are classified with learning issues. This is a number that has been growing in Israel as it has been growing in the rest of the western world. What is troubling however, is that there is a great disparity between the number of children classified in rich vs poor communities. The highest percent of children that are classified with learning issues are in North Tel Aviv, the lowest the Bedouin town of Rahat. Why? Because most of the kids that are classified are tested by private testers and then submitted. The Ministry of Education allocates money only for 1,000 students from seventh graders and on to be tested. The school system that is supposed to be the great levelers certainly fails in this area.
Schools also open in the Arab world tomorrow. In Egypt all of the teachers have been forced to undertake tests on general world knowledge. The Egyptian concern that is shared by many secular Arab governments is that the teachers have too little general knowledge and much too much Islamic knowledge. It's interesting to note that more then 50 years after Nasser's Socialist revolt in Egypt 41% of Egyptians are considered illiterate.