Similar to many other countries, an educational reform anchored in a managerial discourse was proposed in Israel in 2004 by the Dovrat Committee, encouraged by the 'inter-state education gap' social problem that economist Dan Ben-David formulated on the basis of international examinations, such as PISA and TIMMS. Through a neo-Weberian approach this study follows the construction of a managerial discourse from the 1970s onwards that led to the Dovrat report. In the first period, managerial discourse was constructed around decentralization, parent choice and school autonomy 'social objects' by an expanding reformist network of educational scholars and figures from the Ministry of Education and local authorities. The pervasion of managerial discourse paved the way for the nomination of Shlomo Dovrat, a philanthropic entrepreneur, as head of the committee for revision of the education system. The second period was characterized by an increasing involvement of public policy departments and philanthropic associations in the formulation of education policies and the construction of social objects, mainly: evaluation; standards and measurement; principals' training; and teacher status reforms. The construction of these social objects, despite the rejection of the Dovrat reform, shows that the managerial has already pervaded the professional and public arena.
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We can argue that the decentralization of the Ministry of Education in Israel began formally in 1975, when a law to directly elect the heads of local authorities was enacted. Later, the recommendations of the public Commission headed by the economist and statistician Moshe Zinbar2 (1981) suggested delegating control from the central to the local governments and delegating pedagogical responsibilities to local education authorities. Supported by Shimshon Shohani,3 the then General Director of the Ministry of Education, the Education Administration of the municipality of Jerusalem was transformed into a Regional Education Administration (REA), namely, a Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA ‘Manchi’) in 1988 (Dror, 2006).
- Dovrat reform
- Managerial discourse
- Philanthropic associations
- Public policy departments