I found this entire episode completely perplexing. So this is what I understand. The ultra orthodox Jews in Israel already enjoy a whole host of exceptions that are not available to other Israeli's. The fact that this kind of intellectual hypocrisy and stupidity is evident is not surprising, any country created on the basis of religion will keep on having to take decisions which make people turn around and say, "are you guys mad or what?". This intersection between religion and politics is always contentious, but certain decisions that the state makes can be seriously stupid.
So, in short, the Israeli government will be forced to fund the studies of 24,000 students who will now be exempt from acquiring any knowledge of useless and way too stupid subjects such as English, Mathematics, Biology, computers, etc.
We see this behaviour day in and day out. Every time a country steps into the religious arena, it creates a boo boo. (Not that education is a panacea, check this out, for all those who think that educating people will reduce support for terrorism, a recent survey found that Almost third of Muslim students on Britain's campuses believe killing in the name of religion can be justified) And I have no reason to believe that these ultra-orthodox Jews, with their "special" education, are any different.
But what about the state? Surely the state has a duty to make sure that all its students are educated? If you mistreat your child physically, the state will take your child away. But here we have a situation that some idiot seniors actually are forcing the state to keep their children in ignorance. I do not mind that they are home schooled or what have you, but here's the amazing thing, you not only force the state to support absolutely useless mouths but force the state to perpetuate that.
Here's a research paper from the Bank of Israel and Ben-Gurion University that I found (unfortunately in Hebrew, but the English abstract was alarming). I quote some excerpts:
Haredi poverty is exceptionally high, with a share of 20% of the Israeli poor and a population share half that size. Its major causes are very high Haredi fertility (a population growth of 6% p.a.), reducing household income per capita and the mother’s earning capacity; its independent education system’s neglect (particularly among boys) of materially important subjects for future earning capacity such as Mathematics, English and digital skills; and low labor-force participation of Haredi men, due to prolonged learning in religious seminars (Yeshiva), often deeply into the prime working age.
Some more background here, but it was seriously strange to read about how somebody can actively stop their children from learning and a supposedly liberal and intelligent state will allow hundreds of thousands of students to grow up ignorant and a drag on the citizens of the state going forward. Truly, sometimes religion does sound like a virus. Makes people do something very strange indeed.