I find myself quite disturbed by the current strike of secondary school teachers on many levels:
For the Kids: Absolutely my major worry. Even though my kids are nowhere near the age of those affected, at some point they will be. The thought that the system is as unstable as it is, annual strikes practically expected and accepted, is beyond my comprehension, and would be funny if it weren't so sad. So far the schools have been out for nearly 3 weeks - doesn't sound much when you say it, but when you consider that they only learn half-days, and that a third of the year is holiday, the same three week period earns significance when you think how little we invest in our kids anyway!
For the teachers: A teacher in Israel is not respected, not valued, not paid. Why anyone able to find gainful employment would turn to the teaching profession in Israel is beyond me. Cultural difference aside, I was brought up in a society that encouraged the best and most knowledgeable to go into teaching in order for our children to be taught by the best. A teacher was held in respect if not in awe as the one who knows, the ultimate authority. Teachers' advice was sought on matters of education, behaviour, parenting, safety, teenage development, social responsibility, extra curricular activities, etc. etc. Why can I not expect the same for my kids?
Against the teachers: Yes, you have the right to strike! Yes, you deserve more! Yes, you are not valued as much as you should be! BUT You chose to be a teacher. You chose to take upon yourself the responsibility to safeguard my children and educate them, not just to pass exams, but to prepare them to enter society as an asset. My children learn their roles from you, how you talk, how you act, how you talk, what you teach, what you allow, what and how you punish. So much they learn from you, and yet the lessons they are currently learning are How to hold the system hostage, How to get away with shirking your responsibility, How to claim the moral high ground by merely being better than the other side rather than empirically good. I would like to ask you why you choose the beginning of every school year to state your demands and strike?
Against the unions: Don't get me wrong, I support workers' rights as much as the next man, and you have rights and regulations for actions in order to attain what is rightfully yours; but let me teach you a word, say after me - R-E-S-P-O-N-S-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y! First of all act in the interests of those for whom you wake up in the morning - your children and my children, and whithout giving any philosophical waffle about long-term good, care about whether our children are learning the skill that will pay for their future rent and bills, or if they are hanging out in playgrounds in gangs at 2am out of pure boredom and lack of challenge. Please clean up shop, and if you need to fight for your rights, at least do it in a way that will still allow me to respect you the morning after!
Against the government: Please take action as part of a long term plan, a stragtegy. Please lead my country to a place it should be. Please take responsibility for the education of the children in your system, they will be the only pool from which your future replacements will be drawn, if you deprive them of education you deprive us all of everything to come. You are the results of the system that has failed us all so far - please give us a brighter tomorrow - it's your job!
Against me, but actually for me and my kids and the teachers and Israel: What the hell is wrong with me, us, you, them? How could we have let this go on so far and get so bad without caring? How can we go about our daily activities and make ourselves not look? Are we not embarrassed? What am I talking about? Just the education system? Wow, no! It appears that I am talking about the social services, and the health service, and public transport, and the military, and the police, and the roads, and the pollution, and the taxes, and the cost of living, and the unemployment, and the organized crime, and the bank fees, and the prime minister, and the government, and the civil service, and, oy, the corruption... and the rest!
Maybe it's time to do something, and maybe it's time to do it properly!!
This is MY country, MY State, and MY R-E-S-P-O-N-S-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y!