Monday, October 22, 2007

And the Strikes Begin Again

Some of you know already that Israel's public sector is continuing on it's usual trajectory of strikes, strikes, and more strikes.

Merrily, last week there were three announced strikes:

One by the high-school teachers. What is it about? Why, the teachers don't get paid very well, despite the fact the public education budget is huge enough to send every kid in the country to private schools in America and there would be money left to by them all tickets there.

So the teachers, in their glory, have made a deal with HR companies, to find them temporary jobs while they clamor for a doubling of wage and a suspension of the pro-accountability reforms. Note I am not kidding about that one.

Israel has practically no private schools (only 60,000 children are in private schools), and homeschooling is virtually banned except for a few dozen families. So what this means is that the union will be able to extract yet more money from the hapless taxpayer. It's only a question of when and how much.

The second strike was by the Union of University Directors (Irgun Rashey Ha-Universitaot). These didn't even have the common decency to demand wages – they were making a raw political demand, an increase in the budget of higher education. They got it. Several hundred million shekels.

Scarily, the government caved before the strike even technically began.

Israel has no private universities, only a few private colleges, which are hamstrung and crippled by the government. To close down all public universities effectively means shutting down all public education.

And yet nobody in the media asked if it is even legitimate for a public servant to deny citizens the services which are their right under law in order to demand political reforms. (Bear no mistake – the size of a budget, any government budget, is a political issue).

And so, on the heels of this one came the strike of the senior university staff. They will not conduct any lectures until their wages are increased. Again, this essentially shuts higher education down for a few days (over 60% of university lectures are shut down).

So here you have it: Education is ostensibly a 'right' under Israeli law, but unelected officials are enabled by the state monopoly on education to deny it to us on a whim or a political demand.

The only way to fix this is not to adjust labor laws, reform salaries, or increase budget.

The only way to fix this is to kill the public monopoly on education.

Kill it.

Kill it with fire.

Let there be private universities, where people will be able to hire professors based on their individual accomplishments rather then collective bargaining, let there be homeschooling which will promote a variety of opinions and mindset, and for the love of God let there be private schools.

Then maybe we won't have to be holding onto the edge of our seats every time autumn approaches, checking if the public education monopolists decide to hold our education system hostage again.aa


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