Matthew Lipman
Matthew Lipman

An open letter to Education Minister Yoav Gallant

Dear Mr. Gallant,

I am writing to you as a very concerned parent. It appears that the Minister of Education has decided to invest his energy and resources into blocking recipients of the Israel Prize from receiving their award. Whatever the political views of Oded Goldreich, it seems unconscionable to me that instead of supporting schools and teachers to educate our children, the Minister of Education has instead embarked on a personal crusade to dictate which political views are acceptable and which are not. 

The pandemic era has been a challenge for everyone, especially children who have had their sense of stability severely shaken over the last year. Israel’s recent success in bringing Covid-19 under control has been very impressive. I am truly grateful that many industries and businesses have been able to reopen. A cautious sense pervades that normalcy is beginning to return. Our children are slowly being able to return to their pre-pandemic lives of chugim, meetings with friends, and attending their youth movements.

The one facet of my kids’ lives that seems to be taking longer to return to normal, however, is their schooling. Despite the enormous efforts of teachers and school administrators, our children’s schooling has suffered this year. I am not only referring to their academic studies but also to the social and emotional development that comes with being part of a classroom community. In years gone by school represented a constant, a part of their routine that gave their lives a valuable structure. The onset of the pandemic removed that structure, and it is now time to return it to our children’s lives.

The inconsistent and seemingly ever-changing regulations of the Ministry of Education has made it impossible for schools to give their students a consistent schedule. Some days my children go to bed not knowing where, when and even if they have school the next day. In the beginning of the pandemic I preached understanding and patience to the frustrated parents of my children’s classmates, but now is the time to end this chaotic state of affairs.

The priority of the Ministry of Education has to be our children and their education. The hundreds of hours of instruction that have been lost will not be made up. I recognize that the lost time caused by shorter school days and the shortening of the school week will not be returned to our children’s futures. In this light it is even more imperative that a robust plan be implemented going forward. I absolutely believe in the value of non-academic subjects such as art and physical education, but how can it be that a child comes to school for four hours of classes and none of them are academic subjects such as history, math or science?

The education of our children is of the highest importance for their own personal futures and also for the future success of the State of Israel. The strength of Israel’s civil society, her economy and her security are dependent on the quality of our children’s education. We need to move forward from this damaging year and provide our children with the educational framework that they deserve.

It is now time for the Ministry of Education to return a fixed and reliable schedule that children and parents can follow without needing to then keep track of a hundred last minute, late night WhatsApp messages that flips things on their heads. These constant changes not only damage the sense of security for our children but also wastes the valuable time and energy of the teachers and further detracts from their ability to focus on educating their students.

I wish to see my children return to their schedule and a sense of stability. I wish my children to learn that it is okay for people to have views different from their own and I wish my elected officials to take their responsibilities seriously and to focus their energies on the areas of policy to which they have been tasked to attend.

Sincerely,

Matthew Lipman

About the Author
Matthew Lipman is an Israel educator at Makom. He lives with his family in Modi'in and he is on a mission to share his love of Israel, Judaism and "dad jokes" with his wonderful children. He writes in a personal capacity.
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