Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Where Does 2+2=8? In Israel

The brilliant Jews, A Yiddeshe Kop. These are all descriptions used to describe the intellect of the Jewish mind. Well leave it to the Israeli education system to dispel these stereotypes. Only in Israel do school age kids think that 7+8=21.

With all the money that Israeli taxpayers throw at the education system, not only does it continue to stink but it's actually getting worse. According to a report on Israeli test scores that's in the JPost: "In September, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of Westernized countries that measures growth and modernization around the world, placed Israel near the bottom of its report on the state of education systems around the world.
Now the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) exams have placed Israel 24th out of 49 nations, five places lower than its ranking in 2003. In an additional round of science exams, Israel was placed 25th, two spots lower than it had been ranked in those tests previously."

Of course all those who are truly concerned about social justice are out there crying for even more money. Let's face it; the Israeli education system has turned into a black hole.

What's the solution? I am full agreement with the ideas put forth by Dan Ben-David, director of the Taub Center for Social Policy Research and an economics professor at Tel Aviv University. He says, "You're not going to get any results without reform," Ben-David said. "And the reforms we need fall into three categories: teachers, curriculum and management. We need teachers who are qualified to teach, meaning teachers should get a BA in whatever field they plan on teaching and then learn how to teach, not the other way around. We need to go back to the basics on our curriculum, which means kids need to learn the basic skills they will need before going out to the workforce - reading, writing, math; then we can talk about medicine."
Regarding management, "once you have good teachers teaching the right things, you need to give them incentives to continue and try harder. Reward good teachers... for their efforts," Ben-David went on.
"But we're really far away from that," he said. "And until we enact these reforms, don't expect any surprises in test results. There can't be any more shortcuts."


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