I just got back from Israel at 4am this morning. The trip focused on Israeli innovation – it's really quite remarkable how a mini-Silicon Valley has emerged there. As my cousin correctly put it: "Israel is the only other country that does start-ups right."
But, like us, Israel's future is threatened by a poor-and-getting-worse public school system, which was a shock to me because if there's one thing that's defined Jews for 4,000+ years, it's an overwhelming focus on education. But check out page 27 of my school reform presentation (posted at www.arightdenied.org/presentation-slides) – Israel is the ONLY developed country in which FEWER young people get a college degree today than 30 years ago.
Why is this happening? Mostly the same reasons as here: teachers are unionized and it's nearly impossible to fire a bad one, only the lowest caliber college students become teachers, and there are big achievement gaps between Israeli Arabs and certain Jewish immigrants (like Ethiopians). Once big difference: teachers are VERY poorly paid – about 4,000 shekels/month ($1,100) vs. an average income of twice that.