Working Parents and School Vacation in Israel: Proposal

Next week begins the three weeks of school vacation for the seven-day Passover holiday. The organization Working Parents for Change is working for the government to have fewer vacation days from school and more activities for children during the summer holidays.

You can find the Hebrew proposal on its website.

Suggestions:

  • Quality supplemental, educational and fun frameworks for the summer holidays, subsidized by the government, municipalities, and independent organizations. “Working Parents for Change” has initiated contact with the umbrella organization of community centers. The goal is to include values currently lacking in the educational system.
  • Increase the number of vacation days for workers through legislation, and development of a code for fair employment.
  • Shortening summer vacation by two weeks (currently kids are off all of July and August), Passover vacation by one week, and abolishing the days off for “Isru Chag.” [Isru Chag is the day after the holidays of Passover, Sukkot (Tabernacles) and Shavuot (Pentecost). ] Knesset Member Michael Melchior, chairman of the education committee, is working on introducing the law to the Knesset. [I’m surprised they want to leave the week of Chanukah alone.]

I’ve adjusted to the current schedule, and don’t even complain about isru chag any more. I’m happy not to have to get my kids out early the day after a holiday, and rely on my kids for Pesach cleaning. But parents working outside the home have a huge amount of pressure this time of year. Even with the extra vacation day workers may be more productive when they know their kids are cared for.

On the other hand, if the school system is so bad as the organization implies in its first point, pushing for more school days seems counterproductive.  And I wonder what teachers  think of the idea.

What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Leah Peretz says:

    I also don’t mind the Isru Chag days. It won’t make the vacations much shorter anyway.
    I do care about the way too long summer vacation, which could even be cut into half and have a “bein haz’manim” (even THAT is too long for the kids, I would say).
    Another option could be to divide the country into zones (as in Holland) where each zone starts and ends the summer vacation in a different week. This is done to avoid too large crowds in tourist sites and airport. This won’t be happening in the charedi sector, but could be done in the other sectors.
    From what I heard once, is that also teachers would like shorter summer vacations, because their salary isn’t the same and also they have children at home, but because of technical (too much changes needs to be made) and financial (making changes cost money) reasons the government won’t change the current system. But it’s high time! Haven’t met ONE person who’s happy with the long summers!

  2. I’m happy not to have to get my kids out early the day after a holiday.
    This is exactly why I hope that they don’t do away with the isru chag vacation days. (Admittedly, I work from home, and so I don’t have to worry about day-care.)

    But it would be great if they shortened the so-called “big vacation” (i.e. summer vacation) – or at least moved day camps to the middle of the summer. As it is now, most camps begin the day after school ends and run for three weeks only.

  3. Make the school year longer? With 40 kids in a class? How can we be assured of quality during the extra time, shouldn’t the quality be improved during the school year?

    This is not such an issue for me now, as my youngest is about to enter “junior” high school, but for elementary school, I would rather they extended the day so the kids don’t get home by 1:00; but again can they do this with “quality”?

  4. Here’s waht the teachers think: That’s a horrible idea! I really like my vacations thank you. Working parents are those who don’t work as teachers. There are kaytanot Pesach where kids can be for that extra week. I don’t even send my kids there. I would take even more vacations if I could. Why would anyone want to take away those precious vacation days?! I must say that I do like when my kids have less vacation than I and I get to be home alone. It’s nice to have some down time, once in a while.

  5. I would be happy with a longer summer vacation. It usually seems too short for all the things I would like to do.

  6. mominisrael says:

    I wish the summer (weather) were shorter.
    Baila, I agree that putting them in school for more hours with the problems the system has now is probably not the way to go.
    Mrs. S., the day camps see themselves as an extra month, with a week’s vacation at the end (like Chanukah). I would also prefer it in the middle, but maybe the idea is to allow time to travel? But I don’t send since we started our cooperative camp.
    SP–So now Leah knows one.

  7. I love all their suggestions. I do not think the burden should fall on the school system though. Non profit day care and camps should be established to help working parents such as myself.
    BB, most working parents cannot afford to send their kids to kaytanot – we are barely getting by as it is. When is the government going to recognize child care as a work related expense and give us a tax break?

  8. Not have the children home the week before Pesach?
    but who would clean the house when I am at work???

    Or look after the younger children when I am working (I guess that bit does not make sense since the younger ones would have no vacation either!)

    My older children always find the summer holiday too short, they do not have time to do all they plan, but for small children, the summer break should be shorter.

  9. mominisrael says:

    Ariela–I object to a tax break tied to the mother’s salary. Parents of young children should have options of how they care for their children and we should not give a dual-career family an economic advantage. The only reason for it is as incentive for mothers to work (as opposed to fathers or other arrangements)–which may be good for the economy but not for families.
    Keren–the summer vacation is long enough for us.

  10. Single people and couples without children could make the same argument- why should tax breaks only go to families with children, why can’t we get a break and decide to do what we want with the money we earn? Why should they get an economic advantage?

    The answer is obvious- it’s in the state’s interest to encourage more people to have children, so the advantages go to families with children.

    Similarly, it’s in the state’s interest for more women to work. Dual income means a family is less likely to require state aid, it means the state gets more taxes and it increases general productivity.

    I think most incentives for individual mothers going to work already exist. I doubt more mothers would go to work because of a new childcare tax break. And it makes more logical sense to tie the tax break to a mother’s salary. If she wasn’t at work, she would be home to take care of children.

    As for economic advantage- the reality is, a woman who works not only earns more money than a woman who doesn’t, she pays more taxes to bituach leumi, mas hachnasa, mas briut etc.. She might also have bituach minahalim and keren hishtalmut, which would ease the burden of old age, making her less dependant on state aid in the future.

    So why shouldn’t she get an economic advantage over a mother who doesn’t pay these taxes and might not be saving/earning for the future?

    Every family has to decide for themselves what makes sense for them, but in the end, the state will decide what’s best for the state.

  11. mominisrael says:

    Abbi, what about fathers? What if the mother works and the father stays home? Should she still get the tax break for daycare?

  12. mominisrael says:

    It’s in the interest of the state to give the best start to young children, and not encourage daycare for small babies. That’s why it pays for maternity leave. Allow parents to choose to care for their small children themselves without penalty. I’m not saying they should discourage parents from working–but they should look at what is best for the family, particularly for children, and not just at the bottom line.

    You make good points, and you could also argue that a tax break will allow parents to choose higher quality care for their kids. Or it might mean that babies stay in daycare for longer hours.

    What about parents who work split shifts so that one could be home with the kids? They won’t get a tax break. But isn’t that a better arrangement for the child?

    By the way, Meretz was against the proposed law because it only benefited families where the mother made enough income to pay a sizeable tax. It wouldn’t help the families who needed it most.

  13. mominisrael says:

    And one more thing:
    “I doubt more mothers would go to work because of a new childcare tax break.”
    So why should the state spend the money?

  14. The state should spend the money for the mothers currently working, and I agree with Meretz if indeed it only covered mothers in a higher tax bracket. I can’t really speak to the details of the legislation because I haven’t seen it. I was talking more about the general idea of tax breaks for working mothers vs. mothers who don’t work.

    The state already doles out child subsidy payments, so one could argue that those could be used to offset childcare payments, as one sees fit, for those who don’t qualify for the larger tax breaks.

    I agree that the state recognizes the importance of staying home for the first three months- but it doesn’t actually “pay” women to do this out of the goodness of its heart. The money comes from taxes the woman paid while she was working- which is why only women who have worked for at least a year and a half (give or take i can’t remember the exact number of months) can collect this money. Women who worked less than this can only get six weeks and if a woman hasn’t worked at all, she doesn’t get paid anything. I see the chufshat leida as really just getting back what you’ve already paid in taxes. Going by your logic, all mothers who leave the maternity ward should get chufshat laida, just like they get ma’anak leida. But that isn’t the case, and I think it’s actually fair the way it is.

    Likewise, I see the tax break as a bonus for working and paying taxes. A woman who doesn’t work doesn’t pay taxes so why should she be rewarded in this particular way?

    Also, I don’t think think staying home is by definition the best start for all children, particularly for children from troubled homes and even for children from great homes. But I think that’s another conversation.

    Shabbat Shalom

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