Author Archives: mayad

Stuart Brown

Mr. Stuart Brown is a Trustee and Treasurer of the Naomi & Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, where he directs its philanthropic activities dealing with Israel and the American Jewish community.  He also serves as Chair of American Friends of Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel, and as a member of the Taub Center Board.

 

Prior to focusing full-time on his philanthropic activities, Mr. Brown had a 25-year career as an attorney specializing in federal taxation.  He completed his legal career by serving as Chief Counsel for the Internal Revenue Service during the Clinton Administration (1994-2001).  He had previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation of the US Congress and as a partner in a Washington, DC law firm.  He received his BA from Yale College and his JD from Harvard Law School.

Classroom Discipline and Student Achievements

Since this Report, the issue of learning environment has risen to the forefront of education policy discussions in the country. As little research has been done examining the relationship between class environment and student achievements, Taub Center Policy Fellow Carmel Blank and Taub Center Education Policy Program Chair and Tel Aviv University Professor Yossi Shavit chose to examine this issue in Israel’s non-religious state schools.

Blank and Shavit examined the characteristics of schools and classrooms using a questionnaire that asked students about school and class discipline and environment, school enforcement policies, and the student’s own behavior with regards to absences and tardiness. Afterwards, they assessed the impact of these characteristics on the likelihood of a class being considered “undisciplined” (that is, falling in the upper quartile of disciplinary infractions) as shown in the first figure. Their results show that the teacher’s role is important: when students perceive a teacher as unfair, the likelihood of that class being undisciplined is double that where students consider the teacher to be fair. Furthermore, in classes where the parents of the students have an above average education level, there are fewer disciplinary infractions. The overall school climate plays a central role as well. There are twice as many undisciplined classes in schools that have more than the average level of disciplinary infractions compared to schools that have fewer infractions. Similarly, in schools characterized by relatively strict disciplinary enforcement policies, the percentage of undisciplined classes is about half that of schools with relatively nonstrict enforcement policies.

Eng Discipline Fig 1

Disciplinary environment is important in terms of its ultimate impact on students’ learning and educational achievements. The study’s central finding is that class disciplinary infractions have a significant negative effect on student achievement regardless of the student’s own behavior or past performance.

The second figure shows that MEITZAV (a Hebrew acronym for Measures of School Efficiency and Growth) test scores are negatively correlated with both the student’s individual disciplinary infractions as well as with the infractions at the class level. The impact of disciplinary infractions at student and class levels are quite similar. An 11-point achievement difference (80.4 versus 69.4) exists between a particularly disciplined student and an especially poorly-behaved student. The difference in test scores between a student who learns in a very disciplined class versus one in an especially undisciplined class (controlling for the student’s previous achievements and individual infractions) is 8.4 points (79.1 versus 70.7, respectively). In contrast, the study found no achievement differences between students studying in schools with varying discipline levels or different discipline enforcement policies.

Eng Discipline Fig 2

The Taub Center study is part of a growing effort to examine the role of discipline in order to improve student achievements. Even so, it is one of the few studies to focus on classroom level characteristics rather than only on school characteristics, which allowed Blank and Shavit to discover that there are differences in the level of disciplinary infractions between different classes in the same school. It also identified that lower levels of disciplinary infractions and stricter enforcement policies at the school level, together with fair treatment by teachers, all have a positive impact on class discipline.

Finally, a student’s own level of discipline has a significant impact on the student’s academic achievements and, even after the student’s own characteristics are accounted for (by controlling for these statistically), classroom discipline also has a significant effect on student achievements. The Blank and Shavit study identifies the importance of classroom discipline, directing policy makers to the important role of school disciplinary climate and enforcement policies, together with the role of teachers’ treatment of students in promoting a positive and productive classroom environment.

The State of Israel’s Education and its Implications

The Taub Center’s annual State of the Nation Reports have put a bright spotlight on the impact that education has in determining living standards and income gaps. This document summarizes main points of this issue through a brief visual roadmap that underlines the importance of education for Israel’s society and economy, the state of the country’s education, and the implications.

Henry Taub: The passing of a gentle giant

Henry served as Henry TaubChair of the Center’s Board from 1994 to 2005 and as Honorary Chair in recent years, providing leadership, counsel, and guidance to the Center and its professional staff.

Together with his brother, Joe, and childhood friend, Fred Lautenberg, Henry Taub was a founder of Automatic Data Procession (ADP) and served as its Chairman from 1949 until 1970. He retired from ADP in the mid-1980s when the company was processing pay checks for one tenth of the US work force. Today, ADP is one of the world’s largest providers of business outsourcing solutions.

In the early 1980s, during Henry Taub’s tenure as President of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the idea arose to create an independent, professional, social policy research center that would provide the Israeli government and the general public with cutting-edge policy research on the primary social and economic issues facing the country. Taub recognized the need for such an impartial source of evidence-based research, quickly becoming one of the Center’s founding fathers along with a few other JDC leaders.  They realized that in order for such a research center to provide balanced, viable, and critical analyses and policy recommendations, it would have to be completely independent of the Israeli government. The Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, as it was called at the time, was established in 1982 and has grown to become one of Israel’s premier research institutes. In honor and recognition of Henry Taub’s long-standing support, the Center was renamed in 2003 the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel.

Henry Taub was a symbol of the modern Jewish-American community leader: quiet and unassuming, but with rare foresight and vision that saw far beyond the more common preferences for tactical perspectives and symptomatic solutions.  In addition to his decisive role in the creation of the Taub Center, Henry Taub’s strategic approach towards creating a better future for Israel was also in evidence during his thirteen years at the helm of the Technion’s Board of Governors – one of the world’s leading universities that has figured prominently in Israel’s becoming the “Start-up Nation.”  His role as one of America’s foremost philanthropists was cemented in the large number of leadership positions that he undertook in some of the Jewish community’s most important organizations, including the chairmanship of the United Israel Appeal.

Along with his wife, he established the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation which has provided generous support and resources to many important causes including the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and The Aging Brain at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital as well as the Taub Urban Research Center at New York University.  His philanthropic and public activities extended beyond, though, and he also served as a member of the Board of the Rite-Aid Corporation, Hasbro Inc., Bank Leumi and Trust Company of New York, the Interfaith Hunger Appeal, and the New York Shakespeare Festival.

Henry Taub passed away in New Jersey on March 31, 2011 at the age of 83. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Marilyn, three children, and ten grandchildren.

We will miss him greatly.  May his memory be a blessing.

In Memorium: Dr. Israel Katz

Dr. Katz was one of the designers of Israel’s welfare state from the early 1960s. His positions over the years formed a tapestry both within the discipline of social work and in the social system itself. At the end of the 1960s, Katz served as the Director-General of the National Insurance Institute. While in this position, he acted as the Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Commission on Children and Youth At-Risk which became known as the Katz Commission. The commission brought about a change in the perception of welfare for at-risk children and youth.

Israel Katz’s association with the JDC began early. From 1973-1977 Katz was the Director of the newly established Brookdale Institute of Gerontology and Adult Human Development (which today is the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute). He then returned to government service and served as Minister of Labor and Social Welfare under Menachem Begin between the years 1977-1981. At this point, Dr. Katz renewed his association with JDC. Leaders at JDC had long understood the centrality of social planning and the idea of a research center had long been on the agenda.

In 1982, during Henry Taub’s presidency and Ralph Goldman’s administration, JDC established what would become the Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel (and later the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel) and asked Israel Katz to be its first Director. JDC quickly understood that unlike other programs, this Center would have to be independent of government involvement in order to provide policy and decision makers with high level research and viable policy alternatives that were apolitical and non-partisan in the social and economic arenas. Israel Katz headed the Center until 1992 when he retired and Yaakov Kop succeeded him.

Israel Katz always sought to raise social issues to the top of the public agenda whether in the government, in the Knesset, in professional and academic circles, in the media, or in other spheres. He continued to give his support to the Center and its activities to the end.

We mourn his loss and extend our sincerest condolences to his family.