Curricular Choices of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Communities: Translating International Human Rights Law to Education Policy
Abstract: This paper employs the provisions of international human rights law in order to analyse whether and how liberal states should regulate Haredi educational practices, which sanctify the exclusive focus on religious studies in schools for boys. It conceptualises the conflict between the right to acceptable education and the right to adaptable education in international human rights law, and analyses four case studies of Haredi education that exemplify different socio-legal approaches towards this conflict. The case studies show how education laws are transformed along the cogwheels of education policy, in which there are plural normative orders and many agents who implement them. Based on the case studies, I suggest that policies providing financial incentives for implementing educational standards may facilitate the realisation of the right to acceptable education in Haredi schools more than policies devised to enforce this right. I also suggest stipulations for effective conditional-funding policies.
Abstract: This paper analyzes the challenges embedded in the conflict between the right to accessible education, which implies a prohibition on discriminatory practices in school admission, and the right to adaptable education, which accommodates children’s cultural affiliations. It shows that a normative lens, which examines the ways by which legal rules correspond to conflicting rights and interests, cannot fully capture the tension between legal prohibitions on discrimination in education and the sociocultural norms in religious communities. Thus, the paper offers a socio-legal lens, which focuses on the context of admission policies to Jewish religious schools. Based on three test cases of admission policies to Jewish religious schools in Israel, England, and Flanders, Belgium, the paper demonstrates how the legal rules regulating the admission policies are influenced by social forces. In Israel and England, these forces have facilitated a descent down slippery slope, originating with religious criteria, but concluding with discriminatory criteria. They also shaped admission practices reflecting the asymmetric power relations between the institutional school systems and individual families. The paper highlights the benefits of the Belgian policy, which proscribes religious classification of school candidates. This policy circumvents the ambiguous distinction between religion, ethnicity, and social class, and expands educational choices.
From the Constitution to the Classroom: Educational Freedom in Antwerp’s Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Schools
Abstract: This study explores how the constitutional right to educational freedom penetrates to the schools of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish (Haredi) community in Antwerp, which is one of the largest Haredi communities in the world. The findings indicate that the constitutional educational freedom is altered by various legal rules, social norms, and implementing agents that transform it on the way down to the Haredi schools. The complex, illusive operation of the cogwheels of education policy demonstrates that education laws should be shaped with considerable thought, taking into account their long journey across the arenas of education policy.