Despite ongoing efforts to promote ethnic, racial and socio-economic integration, segregation continues to challenge education administrators and legal scholars. Privileged parents seeking to avoid integration employ various strategies such as attending private schools or buying houses in neighbourhoods with good school. This paper offers a combined empirical and legal research of another such strategy: the resort to religious schools. The research is conducted within one specific context, that of Israeli Religious State Schools. The empirical study examines whether “Torani” religious state schools (a category of religious schools that offer enhanced Jewish studies and a strict religious environment) induce socio-economic segregation. The findings indicate that “Torani” schools are indeed socio-economically segregated and serve children from higher socioeconomic class than regular religious state schools. It also shows that “Torani” schools are less reflective of their surroundings than regular religious state schools, and are more likely to be established by privileged parents in poor areas, where they are dissatisfied with the local state schools. The legal research offers an explanation of how legal regulation can determine whether religious schools will become a means for avoiding integration. Specifically, it points to three areas in which “Torani” schools are regulated differently than regular religious state schools–the rules regarding the establishment of new schools; the rules concerning school funding; and the rules concerning student enrolment–and argues that special treatment meant to protect religious interests is responsible for making “Torani” schools socially segregated.
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- education law
- religious education
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