9/05/2008

Breakfast with Bibi

I was at a bris this morning where Opposition Leader Bibi Netanyahu (as well as Sara Netanyahu, Gideon Saar, Limor Livnat, Natan Scharansky, and other members of the Likud brass) was present as well, and it gave me the opportunity to ask him about his educational plan.

[No, I was not one of the bloggers invited to the press conference earlier in the week. My friend and neighbor, father of said baby, told me about a week and a half ago (just before said baby was born) that he wanted to assemble a team of “Bibi’s bloggers”, starting with a press conference that would be taking place that Sunday. This friend is a close aide to Bibi who is also a big believer in the political power of blogs. I suggested that he get in touch with Stephen from WebAds, whose finger is definitely on the pulse of English blogs in Israel with a political bent. Apparently, my friend did just that.]

Bibi was actually very willing to give me the time of day. I asked why he wasn’t emphasizing the same principles of privatization and increased competition in educations as he has with industry. Wouldn’t it be great if schools had to compete for good teachers and for students?

He answered that he is interested in promoting measures that would increase competition between schools. He mentioned “outsourcing teachers” and having “vouchers” (that’s right, he mentioned vouchers before I did, which was music to my ears!). I asked if he saw privatization eventually replacing the entire public school system, and he answered that it’s unrealistic to think about it that way, but that “even if we can only accomplish 60% of the revolution, it would be good” (I believe that’s the direct quote). To me, this suggested that he’s really in favor of full privatization with a voucher/ charter system, but that he’s looking at things realistically. Fair enough.

He may have just locked up my vote.

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