Friday, 8 January 2016
Publicly-Funded School in D.C. Glorifies Israel and Teaches Hebrew to Children
[ Ed. note – The Sela School is a “public charter school” located in a poorer neighborhood of Washington D.C. The article below includes a video of a news report by an Israeli TV station, filed by a reporter who seems scarcely able to believe his eyes that such a school exists in America. And indeed, you may hardly be able to believe your own eyes as you read what follows…
A public charter school is a privately-owned school that operates independently of any public school system and is given considerable leeway on what it’s allowed to teach–but which still is funded by public tax dollars. Supposedly, such a set-up brings more “innovation” to the schooling of children, or at least that’s how the schools were touted when they first appeared back in the 1990s.
But what we have with Sela is a school where children are taught Hebrew and steeped in Israeli culture–and it would appear almost to be little more than a school operated by AIPAC and using public money to indoctrinate children into Zionism. Indeed, as the author of the report below mentions, in addition to public money, the school has also received a grant from the New York-based Hebrew Charter School Center, one of whose board members also sits on the national board of AIPAC. The HCSC, by the way, is a nonprofit organization–meaning of course that those who donate to it, get to write the donations off their federal taxes. Which in essence means that the HCSC grant to Sela, at least indirectly, was public money also.
As you watch the video, you will note Israeli flags at the school as well. ]
With the school privatization movement taking over public school districts across the United States, wealthy donors have seized on education reform to finance the creation of publicly-funded classrooms that teach young children to look to Israel “as a model for both democracy and diversity.”
That’s how one group described a proposed Social Studies curriculum in its 2012 application for a charter from the D.C. Public Charter School Board, which cleared the way for their Hebrew language school to open its doors to elementary school-aged residents of Washington, D.C. the next year.
Gil Tamary profiled Sela Public Charter School for a story that aired in Israel on Channel 10 last April. In his report, Tamary expresses shock upon seeing a room full of kindergarteners—most of them black—singing and conversing with him in Hebrew.
After noting that the Israeli Declaration of Independence and a map of Israel adorn the bulletin board by the school’s front entrance, Tamary reports that “the majority of the students are from the nearby neighborhoods, from local families, most of whom are not very fortunate.”
Publicly available statistics for charter schools, mandated by D.C. law, show that 74% of students enrolled in Sela PCS last year were African-American.
In the District of Columbia, charter schools are given $3,000 in government funding per child, per school year, while maintaining the freedom to manage their own budget and curricula, according to the Public Charter School Board website.
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