The education policy debate — most notably the decision to cut funding for the high school civics curriculum in favor of increased spending on Bible studies — in Israel last week is turning out to be rather uncivil.
The decision — overturned after national uproar — reflects Israel’s ongoing internal discussion over the limitations of operating as a “Jewish democratic state,” and whether or not those two qualifications are inexorably polarizing. The new funding cuts would have given high school students less opportunity to learn about democracy and government; some schools most likely would have shut down their programs. Even with the policy reversal, the civics budget, according to Haaretz, “will still be about half as last year’s.”
A stated goal of the new education minister, Gideon Sa’ar, has been to introduce more Jewish studies programs, according to the Los Angeles Times. That means more time spent on yeshiva-style learning, like Tanakh and Talmud, as well as Jewish philosophy.
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