Groundbreaking Research Identifies Opportunities to Increase Educational Equity in Israel

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Trauma-informed education creates the conditions for peace in the Holy Land; reGeneration’s first-of-its-kind research identifies solutions to increasing much needed access to trauma-informed education.

At reGeneration Education, we believe that more peaceful childhoods promote a culture of peace.

reGeneration’s report charts a visionary path forward by uniting parents and teachers who are Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish Israelis to work together to close barriers to trauma-informed education.

Today, reGeneration Education announced the results of its 21-month study of systemic barriers that prevent children in Israel from accessing trauma-informed early childhood and elementary education. The authors of reGeneration’s study, “Closing the Gap: Increasing Access to Trauma-Informed Education for PCI/Arab Communities in Israel Through Waldorf Education,” identified Israeli governmental policies and societal phenomena that prevent trauma-informed Waldorf kindergartens and schools from opening in communities where Palestinian citizens of Israel (PCI) live. At a time when Israel’s new governing coalition has signaled receptivity to positive reform, reGeneration’s report charts a visionary path forward by uniting parents and teachers who are Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish Israelis to work together to close barriers to trauma-informed education.

Research shows that trauma-informed education can play a key role in supporting children’s healthy development in a diverse society. While any Israeli child may experience real hardships, a confluence of stressors merges in uniquely damaging ways for children who are Palestinian citizens of Israel. These societal stressors or Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) — localized violence, communal poverty, regional instability, acculturation, and discrimination — affect the everyday mental state of children who are Palestinian citizens of Israel and, if left unaddressed, can hinder their long-term intellectual, emotional and physical development and later participation in society. Trauma-informed education helps inoculate the stress experienced by all Israeli children and lays the foundation for a peaceful future.

“Children who are Palestinian citizens of Israel deserve an education that frees their spirit, honors their heritage, and allows them to realize their full potential. Trauma-informed Waldorf education empowers students to create a culture of possibility that transforms their community and the world at large so that all children and families may thrive,” said Muneer Waheed, Board of Directors at reGeneration Education. “reGeneration’s research illuminates the challenges that Palestinian citizens of Israel face when trying to access healing trauma-informed Waldorf education. It is incumbent on all of us who want to see a peaceful future in the Holy Land to support the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish parents and teachers working together for peace through trauma-informed education.”

reGeneration Education’s research sought to understand the cause of the trauma-informed Waldorf school movement’s struggle to scale in communities where Palestinian citizens of Israel live. Throughout its 21-month study, reGeneration identified five key systemic obstacles preventing its expansion, affecting every stage of an educational institution’s growth: systemic and individual governmental biases; school fundraising in the face of communal poverty; teacher hiring difficulties caused by anti-Arab employment discrimination in other fields; inaccessible and culturally irrelevant teacher training; and widespread teacher burnout.

“Trauma-informed education bolsters schools with proactive strategies to empower children to meet their own needs for learning in healthy ways. Further, trauma-informed education is underpinned with ethics of equity, care, and unconditional positive regard for all members of the school community. The holistic Waldorf approach to learning has the potential to be highly valuable for trauma-affected children, especially those growing up in crisis zones,” said Dr. Tom Brunzell, M.S, Ed.M., Ph.D., Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and Director of Education at Berry Street Victoria.

While many pedagogical approaches to trauma-informed education are used worldwide, the most widely embraced system in Israel is Waldorf education. Over 200 Hebrew Waldorf kindergartens, elementary schools, and high schools support Jewish Israeli families, making it the country's most popular trauma-informed secular school movement. Despite significant and long-expressed interest from parents who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, the number of Arab Waldorf institutions has not kept pace with the rising demand. Less than three kindergartens and only one trauma-informed Waldorf school serve Palestinian citizens of Israel in Israel. Children who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, who have predominantly high exposure to ACEs, therefore cannot adequately engage with the benefits of trauma-informed education.

“At a time when there is such a need to change the status quo, we must find ways to reach across divides and build more bridges between Jews, Muslims, and Christians. As we outline in our research, trauma-informed education through Waldorf methods has a historical track record of both successfully lifting children in crisis zones up and building inclusive school communities of families that welcome diversity,” said Shepha Schneirsohn Vainstein, M.A. LMFT, President of reGeneration Education.

Grounded in the recommendations of its research participants, who are Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish Israelis, reGeneration’s report includes the Arab Waldorf Growth Platform, a roadmap for navigating the obstacles that impede the growth of trauma-informed education in communities where Palestinian citizens of Israel live. In an Israeli society shared between Jewish and Palestinian citizens, reGeneration Education’s Arab Waldorf Growth Platform unites both peoples to work together to implement strategies for positive change.

Please visit the complete research report or executive summary of “Closing the Gap: Increasing Access to Trauma-Informed Education for PCI/Arab Communities in Israel Through Waldorf Education” here: https://regenerationeducation.org/what-we-do/knowledge-center.

About reGeneration Education
reGeneration Education is a U.S. 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing peacebuilding through innovative approaches to the education, development, and resilience of young children in crisis zones so they are able to imagine and create a better future. Since 2005, reGeneration has laid the groundwork for peace by nurturing over twenty thousand Palestinian and Jewish Israeli children with trauma-informed early childhood education and training over twelve hundred teachers in groundbreaking trauma-informed pedagogies. Learn more at regenerationeducation.org.

For press or other inquiries, please contact:

Thea Lavin
Communication, Development, and Middle East Programs Director
reGeneration Education
thea@regenerationeducation.org

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Thea Lavin