The Structural Change Proposal in the Israeli Schools: Conflict and Conquest

Publication Date01 Jan 1970
The Structural Change Proposal in the Israeli
Schools: Conflict and Conquest
A conflict of interests between two groups of educationists over
proposed legislation for a school structural change is examined.
Compromise is not achieved and evidence shows that the party
which possessed more political power eliminated the threat of the
other party. The process of conflict resolution is shown to
reflect both a continuous utilization by the parties of legitimate
influence and a gradually increasing use of illegitimate influence.
Evidence also suggests that both parties adhered to the principle
of minimization of waste of influence resources. A brief discus-
sion of governmental organization for education in Israel pre-
cedes this case in educational politics. Hypotheses based on the
work of Iannacconne and related to administrative and political
influences of the parties to the conflict arc stated. A cross
cultural dimension is added along certain theoretical constructs
by comparing state politics of education in Israel and in one
American State.
The following is a case in Israeli educational politics. It des-
cribes activities of educationists which were intended to influence
educational legislation or which have had a demonstrable effect
upon the course of educational legislation.1 The specific case is a
proposal advanced by the Israeli Ministry of Education which
called for a change in the public school structure from an 8-4
system to a 6-3-3 system. The change was first made formally in
January of 1965 by a public committee which was appointed 16
months earlier by the Minister of Education. In July of 1968 the
proposal—somewhat modified but essentially unchanged—was
enacted into law by the Knesset or parliament.
DR. NAFTALY S. GLASMAN is Assistant Professor of Educational Adminis-
tration at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He holds the degrees
of B.A. of Wesleyan University and M.A. and Ph.D. of the University of
California, Berkeley. Dr. Glasman is a former researcher and planner in the
Post Primary Education Authority of the Ministry of Education in Jerusalem
and a former parochial school principal in California.
Israeli Schools 89
The leadership of the Teachers' Union—A Histadrut (General
Federation of Labor) affiliate and the largest educational interest
group in the country—bitterly opposed the proposed change. One
purpose of this paper is to show that the conflict which arose
between the Union and the Ministry was resolved in a "con-
quest"2 type manner in that one party, in this case the Ministry,
eliminated the threat of the second party, the Union. The con-
quest is shown as characteristically "political" in nature in that
it involved activities and relationships which resulted in, or were
intended to result in, decision by the Knesset. The process of
conflict resolution itself is shown to reflect two phenomena: (1)
a continuous utilization by both parties of legitimate influence,3
and (2) a gradually increasing use, again by both parties, of
illegitimate influence.4 Another purpose is to substantiate the
assertion that both the Ministry and the Union exercised the use
of both types of influence only to the extent that it was necessary
and usually no more than that, i.e., that the principle of minimi-
zation of waste of influence resources was followed almost
religiously by both parties.
The introduction to the case constitutes a brief discussion of
governmental arrangements for education in Israel. It also
includes some hypotheses related to the influence of both the
Minister of Education and the Union's leaders along the adminis-
trative dimension as well as the political party dimension.5
Further, state educational politics in Israel and in one American
state will be compared and their similarities and differences
Article II of the Israeli Transition Law 5709 (February 6,
1949) states that "the Government, on being formed, shall im-
mediately present itself to the Knesset and shall announce the
distribution of functions among its members . . ." One of the
functions constitutes provision of educational services. This, in
effect, means that education in Israel is a national responsibility
and, as such, is assigned to a cabinet member who is officially
responsible for the functions of the Ministry of Education and
Culture. By virtue of being appointed by the Prime Minister,
this individual occupies a position which is political in nature
and which is, thus, customarily given to an elected Knesset
member. The term in office of the Minister of Education is
usually identical to the Knesset's four-year term. When the
Government as a whole resigns or when it receives a non-con-
fidence vote in the Knesset, the Minister of Education must also

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