School, parents, and community.

PositionEducation of Arabs in Israel - Statistical Data Included

Parents' Attitudes toward Education and the School

Relations between parents and the school have a major effect on the formal and informal educational processes that go on in the schoolroom. The parents are important partners in the education process, whether their role is active or passive.

Arab society in Israel is basically that of the rural peasant remnant of Palestinian society that survived after the urban, affluent, and intellectual elite departed in 1948. Many of the first post-1948 Arab generation considered education as vastly important, although they themselves lacked it. The new elite made sure that its offspring acquired formal education at any price, evidently to compensate for its own inability to have done the same. This was manifested in a large increase, albeit within a small population base, in the percentage of academically trained among Arab citizens of Israel since the 1960s: from 1.5 percent in 1961 to 11 percent in l993. (23)

This interest in education does not seem to be matched by active involvement in the school process. Parents' attitudes toward the school are marked by extreme indifference. All the teachers and principals interviewed pointed out that a high percentage of parents never visit the school at all: many do not attend parent-teacher meetings and refrain from visiting on an individual basis. The result is lack of public review of the work of the school staff; including the principal, teachers, and other officials. On the one hand, this gives the staff carte blanche to do what it believes best; on the other hand, the parents' apathy and the absence of feedback deprive the teaching staff of a sense of appreciation and encouragement.

A few exceptional parents do visit the school frequently in order to monitor their children's progress. Generally speaking, they are the parents of good students, and most are educated persons who hold white-collar jobs. Another noticeable pattern is intervention by parents, usually village notables or the socioeconomically privileged, with teachers and principals to ensure their children's scholastic success. They accomplish this by building personal relationships with staff members or by applying indirect pressure.

Parents' social standing is an important factor in determining their children's status in school. Parental status has considerable influence on teachers' attitude toward students, with respect to behavior in class, grading of examinations, and other activities...

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