Monday, October 23, 2006

Betrayal of faith

Rabbi James Kennard, headteacher and leading Jewish educationalist, is known for his mild manner. But, as we sit in his office at Barkingside's King Solomon high school, one of the biggest Jewish schools in Europe, listening to Alan Johnson talking on the radio about faith schools, he becomes livid.

When the education secretary announces that every new faith school could, through an amendment to the education bill about to come back before parliament, be obliged to take a quarter of its pupils from other or non-faith backgrounds, Kennard turns off the radio despondently. "I was present when a public assurance was given by a government minister to a group of heads of Jewish schools in 1999 that 'this government will never interfere with your admission arrangements'," he recalls. "This government has done precisely that."

Kennard, in his third headship, feels doubly betrayed. He has chosen to spend the past 15 years in Jewish schools in the state sector. And he is a long-time Labour supporter - his house in the largely Hasidic district where he lived in 1997 stood out because of its array of Vote Labour posters.

He is convinced the tide is turning against faith schools - a factor in his decision to quit the UK at the end of the academic year to teach in Australia. Alarm bells have rung several times in his two years at King Solomon, when existing legislation looked likely to force the school to take non-Jews if it had even a handful of places empty. "I have been noticing that, although those who seek to abolish state-supported faith schools are a very small minority, there is a more subtle threat, which we now see coming to the fore," he says. "The growing consensus among politicians of all parties, and within the educational establishment, is that faith schools should take a significant minority of their pupils from outside their faith."


In a worst case scenario, could they get away with accepting a secular or reform Jew?
How would a goyishe 7th grader cope with Gemorrah if he can't read hebrew?


And that is why the Gedolim were always against accepting money from the gov't for chinuch.


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