School Desegregation: Cross-Cultural Perspectives

School Desegregation: Cross-Cultural Perspectives

School Desegregation: Cross-Cultural Perspectives

School Desegregation: Cross-Cultural Perspectives

Excerpt

Inadequate educational preparation in school is a decided economic disadvantage in both Israel and the United States as elsewhere. In both countries there is a high correlation between the person's socioeconomic status and the adequacy of his or her educational background. Without good training in the lower grades and in high school, opportunity to go on to higher education is closed off. In our increasingly technified world, access to high level jobs virtually requires preparation at the university level.

Both in Israel and the U.S. membership in certain identifiable subgroups seems to handicap the person in obtaining the requisite educational credentials. Whereas in the United States each of these identifiable subgroups is a relatively small fraction of the population, in Israel the disadvantaged group, Jews with a Middle Eastern or North African background, is slightly larger than the educationally advantaged group, those Jews with a Western background whose roots are in Europe. In his chapter, Adler reveals some startling statistics regarding the educational and job opportunity handicap suffered by non-Western Jews. The data present a striking parallel with the situation in the United States.

Official concern with the problem in the United States antedates such concern in Israel by more than ten years, but it was not until the mid to late sixties that programs to implement educational reforms aimed at reducing group-related educational deficits got underway in both countries. In the U.S. more than ten years had elapsed between the momentous 1954 Brown decision and the first intervention attempts. Israelis were aware of their problem even before they achieved statehood but did nothing about it since they were otherwise occupied with a succession of three wars with their Arab neighbors. They also believed that the army served the purposes of desegregation, which it did, but only in part.

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