A holy land at risk

Israel's education system faces some familiar-sounding problems:

The Dovrat recommendations included giving school principals the right to sack poor teachers and reward the better ones with higher pay, which they currently lack. But such moves have been blocked by Israel's two teachers' unions, one of which has paralysed secondary schools with a series of long strikes over the past few years. At the end of last year it settled for a wage rise in return for token increases in flexibility, but other reforms remain blocked.

That's from The Economist's special report on Israel in its sixtieth year. Israel ranked 39th out of 57 OECD countries in the 2006 PISA rankings and had the biggest gap between high- and low-achieving students.

And this isn't helping things, says one commentator.