Source: Jerusalem Post
The Knesset (Israeli Parliament) approved a bill establishing a new state school integrated educational system that would provide enriched Jewish studies for both secular and observant Jews. The law provides a framework to incorporate schools that follow such a system, alongside the existing state and state-religious frameworks.
The bill calling for the new system, introduced by MKs Michael Melchior (Labor) and Esterina Tartman (Yisrael Beiteinu), passed its second and third readings, becoming law. There are currently four Jewish school systems: Secular, national religious, Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox and Sephardi ultra-Orthodox. The new framework will offer the opportunity for schools to teach Jewish values and emphasize tolerance and understanding between ultra-Orthodox, national religious and secular Jews.
Existing schools could join the new framework if a two-thirds majority of parents voted in favor and if a simple majority of teachers concurred. Like the state and state-religious school networks, the new framework would have a governing council made up of Education Ministry professionals and representatives of parents, teachers and pluralistic organizations. Teachers would receive additional training and a Jewish educator or rabbi would be appointed in every school in order to make sure the religious content is integrated in the curriculum properly.
MK Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad), who heads the Knesset's Education, Culture and Sports Committee, said that the new act will help bridge the growing gap and polarization in Israeli society.
No new schools will be created in the initial stages; however the program is to be implemented at eight schools by September, 2008.