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Back to School Blues (greens, oranges yellows, or reds ) depending on the currency used

The ceasefire was announced after 50 days of war. Bibi called the ceasefire himself without the votes of his cabinet. We were all shocked towards the end that the government wasn't doing almost anything about the hundreds of missiles being launched into Israel. Then all of a sudden, at the same time we figured Bibi was just waiting for the moment to really hit Hamas hard, he agreed to the terms of ceasefire and the fighting ended just like that. Almost no one agrees with his decision, nor do we understand how he could just let the terrorists go without dismantling them. But it was obvious that none of the border communities or cities were going to let the schools open with the war still going strong, so Bibi's hasty decision comes at least partly from wanting to start school on schedule.

Now that the war is behind us (for now), we are allowed to go back to voicing our complaints about the way things are done around here. My pet peeve lies with the way schools are run in our neck of the woods.

We are homeschoolers. We always have been since my first son was born. When he turned 11 he decided that he wanted to go to school. Since then the rule in our house is once the kids turn 10 they are allowed to decide if they want to go to school or not.

We've only got one grade school and one high school out here. So you either go or you don't. There's no choices available, no options to consider. The schools are lacking in education and good teachers, I won't get to into all that here. The problem lies with the way they are run. It has become less about education and preparing children for the future and more about how much money the school and other businesses can make off the students and their parents. It has always been like this, and after the war they haven't softened up at all .

There is a law that every parent has to pay for insurance to cover their child in case something happens at school. Fair enough. But we are required to pay 200x that amount for all kinds of things but no one really knows where the money goes. If a parent doesn't pay the "required " amount, the child is ostracized by the teachers. And they threaten to refuse them their certificate of graduation at the end of each year, not to mention that they are separated from the rest of the class for field trips etc. ( I do not pay anything beyond the insurance and the books, but for the entire rest of the year we are hounded and threatened by the school. The debt then carries on to the following year on and on until it is paid. The only reason I allow the kids to continue attending these schools is because they want to be there . I figure at the age of 10 they are old enough to know themselves and make their own decisions about such things. The reason I wrote this, is just to point out what is going on with the schools out here where we live.)

I called the school the other day to ask a question about my son starting there and before even asking me who I was or who my son was, the person on the other end asked me at least 3 times if I'd received the booklet in the mail explaining all the payments we were required to make. I said yes over and over and she kept pressing the point that if we don't pay in time, the child will not receive the books he needs . Then she finally bothered to ask me who I was.

It has become a big business. For some reason we have to pay a lot of money for books which were used by previous students and which will be returned and used again for future students. Why then are we required to pay such a large amount for "renting" the books? And what do the rest of the unidentified costs have to do with the child receiving his/her books?

When the ceasefire was announced, we knew we needed to get ready for the school year. That entails shopping for school shirts with the school's logo on them (required attire) , replacing whatever they grew out of last year and school supplies. We reuse, play hand-me-down and take used clothes and shoes as much as we can to budget, but no one will let us off the hook when it comes to the school . They charge over and above and they never stay within their budget. It never fails ,during the school year after we've paid this enormous amount of money to cover all their demands, they always ask for more for each field trip or holiday party.

My son graduated last year from the elementary school and they have an annual end-of-the-year party for the graduating class. Besides the tuition we paid in the beginning of the year which supposedly covered the cost of the party, they had a running race in the middle of the year to raise more money for the party. It was a huge hit. People came from all over to run and the class made tons of money. During the year they had two more bake sales to raise money. But still this wasn't enough. Right at the end of the year the teachers asked for another amount from each child because they needed more money. Never once was there an explanation of where all this money was going. With all of this, it still wasn't enough and they took money from the school's funds (how does the school have extra money to be giving out?) They reached 40,000 shekels but were complaining that they needed 70,000 shekels . In the end the party was held at a local swimming pool which was donated to them for 3 hours for their party. They used a DJ who was a brother of one of the students who did the job for free. They had a Bar-B-Que with a few hamburgers and drinks. The children were asked to provide the drinks, snack foods, cakes and coffee for the adults. So where did all this money go? My guess is that the mothers on the committee took a nice all-expense-paid trip to Paris or somewhere. When we tried to contact them to find out how the money was spent, the school year was over and there was no one to talk to anymore.

During the school year, no effort was made to bring someone to give an interesting talk or presentation, no field trip to a museum or national park. The field trips are mostly planned to fill the requirement with no feeling or reason behind them. They are boring and the kids learn nothing from them. But the effort and money raised all year long to make a 3 hour party for 5th graders went above and beyond any kind of rationale.

Lockers here are not an integral part of the school even thought they were installed when the school was built and will remain there until the end. The students are required to purchase them each year as if they are buying them. There is an extra charge if we would like service to the locker. We did the math and came up with an insane amount of money that this locker company is making at each school year after year. The question isn't whether or not the kids need them, They are in school all day sometimes until 4 or 5 pm dragging books, notebooks etc from one class to the other . My question is why isn't the school being subsidized for such things? Why can't they buy the lockers from the company, pay a one time fee and leave the kids out of it? The janitor or the school handyman can be in charge of fixing the lockers when the need arises, he works there anyway. We are expected to call the locker company and give them our credit card number every year for each student . If we can't pay, our children don't have lockers. Instead , they have to carry a 10 lb backpack around all day everyday back and forth to school.

My kids bring their own lunches, however there is no cafeteria on campus. There is a guy nearby selling sandwiches, french fries and soft drinks just outside the fence. Kids illegally crawl under or over this fence to go buy junk food for lunch. They either pay cash on the spot for whatever they want or their parents pay ahead of time per month or per year so they are free to go and eat according to the credit they have with this guy selling cheap food . The school has never taken action to remove this guy from the premises . In fact many parents support his shifty business by paying for him to feed lunch to their children.

Why is the school selling itself out to every carpetbagger who comes along? They don't seem to care about the welfare (nor the health) of their students , nor the potential financial difficulty of the parents.

So it seems the Ministry of Education either plays a part in this or has abandoned the schools and let them go unchecked to make poor decisions, hire unqualified staff, and make due with little or no budget to invest in the children and their most basic educational needs. They have put money in front of education, making the school grounds a new place for business and profit, rather investing in our children's future.

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