Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Compulsory education in Israel from age 3

In the past months, a lot of debate has been going on in Israel about providing government-funded preschools from the age of 3. Recently, the Knesset approved compulsory education from age 3. Most of the talk was, really, about "free" education, while the compulsory factor was treated as a non-issue - because, really, who in their right mind would keep a preschooler at home? 

For a long time, I was confused, optimistically thinking that we are only talking about free, not compulsory, preschool attendance, but recently I've been disillusioned. In particular, today we have discussed this with some other mothers who live nearby (as you may recall from my previous post on home education, our neighbourhood is unique in the sense that most 3-year-olds are at home with their mothers). 

So, the way things are looking right now, those who still keep their 3-year-olds at home are now trespassing upon the new law, but in reality parents are hopefully going to be pretty much left to their own devices until the children reach the age of 5 (well, at least in small communities like ours, I'm not sure what will happen in towns or cities). Among us, the moms in question, there was consensus that the new law shouldn't really make a difference to us. Those who have been planning to send their child to preschool/kindergarten next year, will do so, and those who intend to keep the child home for another year will do so as well, trusting that no one will actually knock on their door and harass them to enroll their child in school. 

So what does this new law get us? First, in my eyes, it is yet another step in detaching mothers even further from their young children. In areas where the new law will be more zealously upheld, some mothers who would otherwise have wanted to keep their preschoolers home, will send them to school. And I'm not under an illusion this is the end of it:

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), who chairs the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women, welcomed the new law.
“I welcome the Prime Minister’s full commitment to changing national priorities,” she said. “Education is one of the central obligations of any state to its citizens and it cannot be that so many families have to bow to the burden of educating their children while other families avoid proper education of their children for financial reasons. This is the essential first step in the revolution that would give free education already from the age of thee months.” (emphasis mine)

Financially, the law will hurt those who don't benefit from it - such as people who do not wish to send their children to preschools. You see, to fund free preschool, they are detracting off the budget of other things. So ultimately, the government hand once more finds its way to the taxpayer's pocket. 

On the other hand, I can perhaps imagine that this law might prompt more people to fight for official, easily attainable permission to homeschool, once those who could have "unofficially" kept their children at home at least until the age of 5 will find themselves unable to do that. 

The key word here, in my opinion, is choices. The education of children has always been the responsibility of parents, and Jews have always had strikingly high literacy levels, even at periods of history when this was most uncommon. I don't believe there are parents in Israel who don't wish their children to be educated in the best way possible. Taking this responsibility out of our hands is like saying: you are inadequate, you are incapable, you don't know what is good for your own children. We do, and we will make you do things our way.

Regardless of what their personal educational choices might be, I don't think Israeli parents should take this implied statement in their stride.


Gothelittle Rose said...

If you've never found your way to HSLDA, you might want to take a look.
The Home School Legal Defense Association is a group of lawyers, funded by yearly member subscription, that provides legal representation *to* its members as they need it. They also keep an eye on the laws in their areas, letting us know of problems and changes.

Last year, they let me know about a bill in my state that would have lowered the compulsory school age to age 6, unless the parent got a doctor's note. Now, compulsory school in Connecticut can include a homeschool program. Still, we opposed the law on several principles.

I called my representative to let his office know about my opposition to the bill. He called back and started asking questions. I found him links to a couple of studies that showed that some kids, particularly boys, are simply not ready for formal learning as late as age 8... and yet, once they start, they catch up with the other kids within less than a couple of months. I told him that these kids, forced into school *or* exempted by doctor's note, will get the idea early on that there is something wrong with them and/or schooling is "just not for them", when it's totally not true.

He rousted his fellow legislators, and they voted down the bill.

HSLDA does do international work. If they don't already know about the situation in Israel, they might like to. They might be able to help.

In fact, here's the country-specific link:

Audora said...

I don't know the state of things in Israel, but such a law in the U.S. would seem to fit with the ruling cultural class' agenda of socializing (read indoctrinating) children into the secular spirit of the age: sex education beginning in the early elementary years, a materialistic view of life (i.e., science over faith), acceptance of same-sex "marriage" and abortion "rights" instead of family life as G-d designed it.

I think you nailed it, with your statement " like saying: you are inadequate, you are incapable, you don't know what is good for your own children. We do, and we will make you do things our way."

Linnea said...

Now, coming from a land where compulsory education starts at the age of 7 (and even then the schooldays are only 3-5 hours per day), the idea of a three year old in any kind of "school" sounds just crazy. I mean... they are just little children!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Audora, in Israel there are plenty of religious school options. However, it is still institutionalized education with all the problems it has by default, such as large classes, lack of individual attention to each child, and a lot of time wasted on discipline problems.

Salyan said...

"...the revolution that would give free education... from the age of three months."
Seriously?!? Who in their right mind would think that three-month-olds need any kind of formal education? They need to be close to and nurtured by their mother.

Mrs. Anna T said...

"Free education from age of 3 months" translates into "government-funded babysitting to induce mothers to go back to the rat race as soon as possible."

angela said...

I dread the day this happens in the US, but I know one day it will. The Government has many plans for our children, but the first step like you said is to remove them from their mothers.

Anonymous said...

One would think that something had been learned under communism. I used to think the leaders in Israel were smarter than this, but I guess it's just more anti-God and anti-family in most cases to come up with such idiocy. The same thing is going on in our country and I wonder if it will come to our having to hide our little ones after they are home-birthed, giving them no SS number, etc. Radical? Yes. These are OUR children/grandchildren and NOT wards of the state. May God help us and give us wisdom.
Mrs. L

Ganeida said...

There has actually been a rather in depth study done on institutionalisation of children from an early age. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the book but it looked at the first generation of children raised in modern day care in the States & their findings were frightening. The children, now adults, displayed a lack of empathy for others & an inability to form close, long lasting relationships~among other things. Little children belong with their parents. It's that simple. If you want to foist them off elsewhere don't have children to start with!

Anonymous said...

I understand an objection to this kind of compulsory education for you, but I am curious whether you think it has any benefits, like preventing abuse and neglect, or making sure that students are on an even footing. Are there other institutions set up in your country to protect the interests of young children whose parents are failing them? This is the only reason I can think of that such a policy would be reasonable. Obviously it isn't the only way such a situation could be monitored, but if that is an underlying concern, maybe an arrangement could be worked out on an individual basis with the school to prove that all is as it should be, and still keep the children at home.

Columnist said...

"The same thing is going on in our country and I wonder if it will come to our having to hide our little ones after they are home-birthed, giving them no SS number, etc. Radical? Yes. These are OUR children/grandchildren and NOT wards of the state."

Creating a class of 'invisible ones'! A great idea.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Gothelittle Rose, thank for the tip, I didn't know about this organization.

Anon, specifically in Israel I think the social services pry too much into people's lives already. Every little thing, and you can have social workers/police on your doorstep, for example if you're upset for some reason and look as though you've been crying when you take out the garbage, the neighbours might call up social services and say they think you're a victim of domestic violence, and in no time police will pop up and try to convince you to present charges against hubby. I'm NOT making this up, unfortunately.

You say, "maybe an arrangement could be worked out on an individual basis with the school to prove that all is as it should be" - maybe, but this implies that parents are guilty until proven otherwise.

Rose said...

This is very sad news, indeed. I'm snuggling a child on my lap right now. I can't imagine getting him up and out early in the morning to go and be "educated" by the state.

Analytical Adam said...

And most Orthodox support Tzippy HaToevli. Don't they !! I know some of my relatives in Israel do and some other people on Facebook. Feminism seems to be the socialism of the so called right and religious. In America here they love Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman even though both of them are for big government and if they were men they would be seen as phonies. Rabbinic Orthodox groups love female politicians. Here in the US the Orthodox Union likes Hillary Clinton and Chabad likes Sarah Palin. I know as a man that thinks I have been punished very much for thinking outside the box by the so called religious which is very bad and needs to change if Jews and Jews that believe in God are seen as people that can defend themselves and not be dependent always on someone else because they attack their own men all the time.

It just shows you that when the government gives you something "free" there always are strings attached to it.

Just to put my own 2 cents in here on home schooling I have mixed feelings. It should NOT be done because you don't want to be part of a country as we can't just isolate ourselves. The few I have met on Facebook have NOT been good people. One was openly anti-semitic and anti-Israel just seeing her page. One was promting that only men intermarry which if true the rate couldn't be 50% and it is not true and I have seen more women intermarry in my own experiences although it is limited sample size. But many women who don't have much of a background just like men have no issue with intermarrying. Another one just blocked me because I didn't say what she wanted to hear which I see with a lot of religious women if men don't say what they want to hear they block you. They really view Jewish men as pawns for their own agendas.

Having said this I can see good people who homeschool but at this point I have to say the reason people were homeschooling that I have seen was the secular world wasn't HATEFUL ENOUGH for them as there are some limits to what will be allowed in the secular world which wasn't enough for them so they homeschool where they can teach them to hate certain groups and people without limit.

Analytical Adam said...

My only other comment is I think the issue should be is there any real, tangible public interest in a child at 3 having to go to a public school and I don't think there is.

Saying it is an issue of taking a child from a mother doesn't hold much sway as sometimes for it is needed.

After all she may use this as a rationalization although I think she is wrong the case of Shmuel once he was weaned Channah give him to Eli. And the child was very young. She saw there was a bigger need then just her own needs of being the mother and taking care of him.

Samuel 1: 23-24. So the woman stayed home and nursed her son until she weaned him.

WHen she had weaned him she took him up with her along with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a jar of wine And though the boy was very young she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh.

So in her case there was a public interest in her giving up her son at a very young age. Having said this, there is no public interest in children being sent off to a school at three year olds especially girls who are learning things at home as you said and it does not serve any tangible public interest. I do think there is some religious rationalization based on the bible for this since three is seen as a year when you are fully weened I think.

Anonymous said...

Some governments must honestly be out of their minds if they think a three-year old should be away from their parents, especially their mother! And a burden to teach your child? What in the world!?! It seems as if the government makes children out to be troublesome leeches instead of precious gifts from God that they are!

Thankfully my own Mother was able to stay home with my sister and I until I was six years old. Do you know what I learned in those six years? How to clean a house, organize a pantry, cook basic things, basic gardening and how plants grow, animal care, and probably a million other things. I see other American ladies my age who are completely clueless at how to do basic home management like chores, shopping, budgeting, etc. And as a teacher, I know that the parent will always remain the most important teacher in a child's life no matter what age.