The following is a brief summary of the basic rights of students and their parents. For more detailed information please check the resources provided in this article and at the end.
A. General Education
The State Education Law 1953 stipulates that education will be provided, as a rule, by the State on the basis of an educational program that is supervised and approved by the Ministry of Education. The law recognizes two streams of education: State education,(Mamlachti) and State religious education (Mamlachti Dati) . The law also sanctions non-government education institutions, recognized but not official institutions that are supervised by the Ministry of Education( such as as Chinuch Atzmai, Maayan Hatorah and other semi private School Systems ) , and independent institutions that are recognized but not supervised by the Ministry. Although parents have the right to choose the stream of education which their children will attend they are not allowed to choose the specific school their children will attend. The local school board refers children to schools, in accordance with the policy of social integration.
The Compulsory Education Law 1949 stipulates that education in Israel is compulsory for children ages three to fifteen inclusive, or until the completion of ten years of schooling, and beginning at age five. The law allows the Minister of Education to grant an exemption from compulsory education in special cases, such as when a child is educated privately, or cannot be integrated into a regular school.
According to the Compulsory Education Law 1949, children and youth ages three to seventeen have the right to free education. Although complete implementation of free education for children age’s three to four has been deferred for budgetary reasons; such free education is provided in some towns and neighborhoods. In the remaining towns, free education is provided from age five, although the local authorities in these towns provide pre-compulsory education from age three-four for a fee. This preschool tuition is progressive, and is set according to socio-economic criteria.
Extended School Day and Enrichment Education Law 1997. The law stipulates that at least four school days a week will be eight-hour school days. It is being implemented gradually, first in neighborhoods and towns whose education systems need reinforcement.
B. Special Education
The Special Education Law 5748-1988, as amended, establishes the right of children with physical, mental, emotional, or behavioral disabilities to an education suited to their needs and development, and ensures that education frameworks are adapted appropriately. The law stipulates how eligibility for special education is to be determined, and that an individual study plan is to be made for each and every child, so as to enable him to fulfill his potential.
The law also expands the type and scope of services provided in the framework of special education. Under the law, special education is provided to children and youth ages three through twenty-one; the law also increased the number of special education hours, lengthened the school day and year (special education schools are open during vacations), and established the right of children to paramedical services (e.g., physical, occupational, and speech therapy), expressive therapies, and assistive devices.
The law expresses a policy of integrating disabled children into regular schools to the extent possible, by requiring that children be given the assistance they need in the “least restrictive environment.” Services provided under the law, however, are allocated mostly to children in special education schools and classes, while funds allocated to children who have been mainstreamed are limited and considered insufficient.
The Free Education to Sick Children Law, 5761-2001 authorizes the Minister of Education to determine a program for education for children who are hospitalized or are sick and stay at home for a period exceeding twenty-one days. The program will reflect the needs of such children, their medical disabilities, and their education program before they became sick. Education under this program will be provided to the sick child at home or at the hospital. The law provides that the State and the local education authority will finance the education of a sick child.
The Rehabilitative Day-Care Centers Law 5760-2000 is meant to ensure toddlers ages one-three, who suffer from a disability, mental retardation, or some other handicap, an appropriate rehabilitative, therapeutic, and educational framework, financed by the State.
C. Humane School Discipline
Students’ Rights Law, 5761-2000, as amended, declares its objective:
To prescribe principles for students rights in the spirit of human dignity and the principles of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child, while guaranteeing the dignity of the student, the education worker and the education institution team, as well as guarding the specialty of the different education institutions… and in order to encourage the creation of an atmosphere of mutual respect in the educational institution’s community.
The law prohibits discrimination against a student based on ethnic, socio-economic, and political grounds in registration, admission, or removal of a student, determining educational programs and class composition, as well as student’s rights and obligations, including implementation of disciplinary rules. The law recognized a right of a hearing for a student and his parents prior to a permanent removal from an educational institution.
The law provides that discipline in an educational institute must be implemented in a way that befits human dignity, including the right not to be subjected to physical or degrading disciplinary measures. Additionally, an educational institution must not employ a punitive measure against a student for an act or an omission by his parents. (resource #9)
Every child has the right to acquire basic education and to enhance their personal, intellectual, and social abilities that will enable him or her to be an independent person and to provide for his or her own needs. It is a parent’s duty to send their children to suitable Schools. The Education Department must provide suitable Schools Parents may choose the School they want their children to be educated in. Parents are entitled to know the curriculum. Parents may choose to transfer their children from one School to another.
Students have the right to be respected and their privacy maintained at school and beyond. No person has the authority to harm body or dignity of the student. The educational institution has a duty of confidentiality regarding the affairs and the student’s personal details .The school staff can only give reports of the student to the parent/ legal guardian.
Parents can contact the school or the Ministry of Education to obtain information about the school where their children are learning. Parents can request information about their child’s personal file, minutes of meetings relating to the student, and correspondence with various parties related to their children.
Schools should distribute to parents the Student Rights Act
Schools should provide options for parents to meet with teachers and other educational staff:
The class teacher should set fixed times to be available to parents and students at least once a week.
The teacher can ask for a parent meeting to discuss the state of the student. The teacher can choose whether to include the student.
If the teacher allows it, parents can contact them by phone at reasonable hours
Schools should commit to two days per year for parent teacher meetings
Schools and teachers should inform students and parents of all contact information at the beginning of each School year.
Parents cannot freely visit school classrooms without permission from the School
Learning disabilities is a general name for a broad range of disabilities.
Special education enrichment and complementary therapies available include:
Diagnosis and Treating of children with learning disabilities
Mental retardation. (Down’s Syndrome, Fragile X , Cerebral Palsy, Autistic traits, Hyperactivity)
ADD & ADHD
Emotional disorders and psychological disorders
Developmental & language delay
Deafness and hearing impairment
Career education – Young entrepreneurship project and induction to the IDF
Multi Sensory Therapy
Children between the ages of 3-18, who require a special framework can request an assessment from the Ministry of Education Requests are made in writing by parents or by the school to the Chairman of the Placement Committee of the Ministry of Education Decisions can be appealed. Learn more.
Some cities and communities have developed diagnostic systems and support for the learning disabled. Check what is available in your community.
Pre School: The parent or teacher can request an Ivchun from an educational Psychologist in the local municipality or Merkaz Lhitpatchut Hayeled
Elementary School: Parents who think their child may have a learning disability should speak to the teacher. After consulting with the teacher and School personnel the child can be referred for an evaluation through the local Educational Psychology Dept. of the Municipality or Privately.
From Grade 7: Parents can pay for an Ivchun- privately. If the family cannot afford a private evaluation, they can apply for funding from Misrad Hachinuch for evaluations for Ivchunim before Bagruts.
For more information about Ivchunim in English, visit: http://www.olim4olim.com/articles/99-educational-evaluations-in-israel
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD, ADD)
Kupat Cholim funds diagnoses and treatments for children with ADD/ADHD in a merkaz lhitpachut hayeled up to age 9
Parents of a child with ADHD/ADD and have been approved by a Va’adat Hasama are entitled to two annual credits from Mas Hachnasa. In order to get the tax credit you need to bring the document from a Va’adat Hasama that approved your child (A va’adat hasama is a placement committee [meeting] to Mas Hachnasa.
Students who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities are eligible for accommodations for their Bagrut (matriculation exams). Students from families with financial difficulties may receive education ministry funding for diagnosis. http://www.mercazrakefet.org/articlenav.php?id=98
Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia
Kupat Cholim funds children up to age 9 for diagnoses and treatments – at Merkaz Hitapchut Hayeled. Children up to age six are eligible for diagnosis and treatments at Merkaz Hitpachut Hayeled
Diagnosing Learning Disabilities
Diagnostics is designed to map the difficulties and skills of the student to find the most appropriate solution for the development of their capabilities. Early diagnosis of learning disabilities is essential for dealing with disturbances arising from them and increases the possibility of improving the current situation. Diagnosis contributes to understanding the origin of the difficulties of the student and cognitive processes, including language, memory, motor and perception processing.
Stages of the diagnostic process
Diagnosis is conducted in several stages. It is necessary for parents and school staff responsible for the child, to collect data of the child’s achievements and difficulties, including information about the assessments and tests. It is also necessary to provide data on the child’s early development and his family. After assessing need, testing may be done in the following areas:
Diagnostic skills – reading, writing, and math .
Diagnostic cognitive processes – memory functions and language, organizational ability, perception.
Personality traits, emotional, behavioral and social.
Signs of developing learning
In many cases you can identify cognitive difficulties that characterize learning disabilities in Pre-School. If the parent or educational staff notices difficulties, the parent should seek expert diagnostic revaluation according to the age, developmental stage and environment of the child. Please note some of the difficulties can also occur in children who are functioning properly. Common features of developing learning that will help parents to assess their child.
Preschooler difficulties of language and cognition:
slow development of language
difficulty learning letters, names, colors forms
difficulty distinguishing between similar words and forming a true statement
no interest in listening to stories
difficulty counting and building sequence up and down
difficulty in arranging by size
Fine motor difficulties: avoiding activities that require motor ability such as cutting and painting
Behavioral problems and difficulty participating in group activities
Difficulty in understanding social situations
Lack of acceptance of the rules of the game
ADHD: hyperactivity- distracted easily, difficulty completing tasks.
Visual perception: difficulty in distinguishing details and the background image.
Language difficulties: poor vocabulary, difficulty expressing verbally, problem solving and perception of time, discrepancies between verbal non-verbal communication (difficulty translating thoughts and actions into words)
Reading and writing difficulties :slow reading , disruption and replacement of letters and words, difficulty in reading comprehension and the ability to link letters to sounds, guessing words by context or by visibility, difficulty following instructions.
Math difficulties: difficulty to acquire and remember the basic arithmetic operations, computational techniques, solving word problems, processing a sequence of numbers
Attention and concentration : a tendency to distract easily, lack of attention to detail, difficulty to pass from one subject or opposite tendency to quickly switch between threads, hyperactivity, a tendency to act on impulse, irritability.
Visual perception: difficulty holding a pencil in a stable manner and tendency to apply excessive force on the tool of writing, handwriting is not clear.
Motor: slow performing tasks that require control of fine motor skills.
Social: tendency for involvement in fights, rejection and social isolation, lack of understanding of social situations and rules of behavior in society.
Types of diagnosis
There are two methods to diagnose learning disabilities: didactic and psychological as well as an additional method for diagnosing ADHD.
Didactic assessment: individual diagnosis lasted an average of five hours, during which memory capacity, reading, writing, math, organization and planning ability and perception are tested. The parents are provided with a detailed report, including recommendations for treatment and a detailed explanation of the results.
Psychological assessment: designed to assess the child’s mental, emotional and behavioral strengths and weaknesses.
In severe learning difficulties, the student will be referred for diagnosis that combines the two methods. Sometimes recommendations are made for further testing by speech therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, neurologists and others.
ADHD : If a parent is concerned that the student suffers from ADHD, a neurological examination is necessary. In addition there are computer based tests for Attention Deficit Disorders known as TOVA or BRC. The test assesses attention based on 4 functions.
Computerized tests are not included in the health basket; however Kupat Cholim supplemental insurance policyholders get partial reimbursement.
It is important for parents to remember to bring all documents relating to the condition of the child: medical opinions, prescriptions, school reports and previous tests.
Remedial education classes are conducted through individual or very small groups (2 – 3 children) directly targeting the specific learning difficulties
RIGHTS OF OLIM STUDENTS
The Ministry of Education allocates special hours for teaching Hebrew as a second language. .
Hours are allocated for immigrant students according to their date of Aliyah and the number of students in an educational institution:
The Israeli high school system prepares students to take the Bagrut (matriculation) exams. These exams are necessary in order to be accepted into universities or vocational colleges. Bagrut exams are given from 10th through 12th grade. The Bagrut system accommodates new Olim and makes certain allowances to help students succeed in the exams. New Olim are eligible for certain leniencies. A student who has a tourist or temporary resident status is eligible for the same leniencies as Olim Chadashim. Children who arrive in Israel when they are entering the 10th grade (or when they are 15 years of age or older) are classified as Olim Chadashim (new Olim).Children who arrive in Israel before 10th grade, or before they reach the age of 15,
are classified as Olim Vatikim (veteran Olim).This status determines their rights and will hold true for ten years. In order to receive the special test booklets and Oleh accommodations, you will need to get approval from the school’s guidance counselor. There are three caveats to the provision of Oleh Bagrut leniencies: one applying to budgets, one applying to minimum requirement of students in school requesting the accommodations, and one applying to the availability of staff to administer the accommodations. These caveats basically give the Misrad
HaChinuch the ability to rescind the leniencies.To determine the eligibility of your child, you will need to be proactive with your child’s homeroom teacher (mechanech/et) and school’s guidance counselor.Translated exams are only available in the “summer” testing period (i.e. the second semester of the year when the majority of the exams are offered). http://tomorrowsgenius.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/bagrut-matriculation-exam-leniencies-for-olim.pdf
References and Resources
Education Laws in Israel: http://cms.education.gov.il/NR/rdonlyres/80371F5E-6AFC-445A-81A5-2DB9EAFC6184/130303/sectionA.pdf
Education Rights ( hebrew) http://www.kolzchut.org.il/he/%D7%97%D7%99%D7%A0%D7%95%D7%9A
Special Education study: http://www.science.co.il/Education/Special-Education-in-Israel.pdf
Special Ed in Israel: http://www.kinneret.co.il/benzev/yacov/spedartc.htm
Higher Education for Learning Disabled http://leshem.telhai.ac.il/
Disabilities/Special Needs organizations http://www.jafi.org/JewishAgency/English/Aliyah/Aliyah+Info/Thoughts+on+Aliyah+and+Israel/Articles+about+Israel/Disabilities.htm
Educational Advocacy http://www.pwp.org.il/articlenav.php?id=40
NEFESH B’NEFESH EDUCATION PAGES
Thank you to Dr. Yaakov (Jonathan) Ugowitz, Psychologist who provided some of the information in this article