Last night I attended the graduation ceremony of the 1,420 8th graders in my city of Ramat-Gan, my son was one of them. It’s a big ceremony as graduating 8th grade marks the move from elementary to high school.
Some statistics they pointed out very proudly in the many speaches they had there was that there are no drop-outs in Ramat Gan. Strangely enough, I didn’t think the possibility of a dropout even exists, since the law in Israel defines education till the age of 15 “mandatory”. It goes to force both the parents and the local supplier of education to put the kids in a school.
But still, it sounds pretty.
I have a lot of criticism on education and education systems. There aren’t real alternatives to public education in Israel (only semi-private systems, that are still, in most cases, controlled by the cities/local councils).
There’s still a very long way to go before the many problems of education will actually be solved, but if there’s something I can be proud of in my city is their constant effort to innovate and change in education. Next year, for example, they are going to open up registration zones. This means that kids going to elementary school and their parents can choose the school that most fits the childs interests and won’t be forced to send their kids automatically to the closest school. To make the choice of schools interesting most elementaru schools in the city defined a “specialization”: arts, sciences, games, nature and environment, design, technology, leadership and more.

The other thing that makes me proud of this city’s education is the kids. They are actually good kids. Schools are safe and provide a friendly environment, at least in the social context. If you could see the 1420 students perform spontaneous group hugs on the stadium’s field at the end of the ceremony, you’ll know what I mean. This, which happened when most of the audience – families of the young graduates – was on the way out, was actually the height of the event in my view.

Ramat-Gan, by the way, is the city right next to Tel-Aviv, on the east. About 150,000 live here. The city is marking its 90th anniversary this year. That’s about a decade younger than Tel-Aviv and about 30 years older than our country. The population here is very mixed, socially, financially and anthropologically. It’s an interesting city to live in, with a mentality of a small town, really. Everybody knows everybody.

A little more about my town: http://www.ramat-gan.info/ramatgan/sister-cities/home-page.htm