The world of education is mobilising against the reform planned by Renzi-Giannini. A Bill rejected by the unions for the impact that it could have on the education system. But, how about the Job Act and Italicum, the government does not seem intent on going ahead, once again showing little inclination to dialogue. So today, thousands of representatives of school sector, will protest under the banners of the main trade-unions. To talk about the strike, we interviewed Francesco Scrima, General Secretary of the Cisl school.
Scrima, could we say that the school reform has already obtained a result: it has done away with divisions and conflict amongst the trade unions. Today you will all join in together. Yes, after 7 years we shall be acting together to defend education. As this law will not lead to’ good schooling’, but an internal and external conflict. And to think that, at the beginning, we had welcomed the intention of Renzi to put this sector at the heart of the government’s programme.
What happened then?
We noticed that no project was based on a good knowledge about the academic world. The first Commission’s proposal was based on two aspects: the stabilisation of the staff and willingness to restore pride to the teachers. But the facts showed otherwise. First, Renzi had said it would solve the problem of insecure jobs by hiring all teachers who are in low rankings. Quite a silly thing if you consider that it would not go to cover all the precarious jobs. Then in the ‘good schooling’ they included the postponement of the renewal of the collective agreements till 2018 and the blocking of seniority steps, which is the only instrument to protect the remuneration of teachers, which is amongst the lowest in Europe.
How did you respond?
We went to schools to raise awareness of the true nature of this reform. Today the advancements have all been reintegrated although hiring has dropped from 150 thousand to 100thousand and the issue of ATA staff (administrative, technical and auxiliary) is yet to be determined. People do not recognize the effort and sweat, passed from being the children of lesser God without God.
One of the most controversial aspects of the Bill are the increased powers granted to headmasters in the evaluation of teachers.
Something that is quite out of any sense or logic. They say that doing so strengthens the autonomy of schools. But the school has always been autonomous, only if it were allowed to operate. Today we want to identify the establishment with a boss. But the school is a different thing: it is an educational community made up of many professionals that must act in synergy. How do you tell if principals need to hire teachers from a territorial register to improve competitiveness of the institutes? And then what do we do next: If the results are not good do we go on to select the students? There is a lot of superficiality in this reform and little confrontation with those who have been working on this issue for years
Another unsolved issue relates to the 200 million for so-called merit shots. Can it work?
No. The work of a teacher has its peculiarities and cannot be judged by a figure like a monocratic executive. The assessment must pass through dialogue with colleagues. We’re not manufacturing nuts and bolts here: the school is an educational enterprise made of sharing, collegiality, co-ownership. It must be assessed a sit belongs to one and all. Among other things they tell me, that they are thinking of introducing a parent or even a student in the assessment team. You can’t give such a delicate task to somenoe who is out of the school reality.
Renzi says that without the reform there would be no hiring.
This statement has a name and a surname: blackmailing Parliament. The Premier speaks of hiring as though it were a miracle. Forgetting that from the Prodi government onwards, through the mediation of the Unions, 220 – 230 thousand teachers were hired without upsetting the system. If Renzi thinks there are no topics for discussion, then he should extrapolate the part on stabilisations and let Parliament do the rest, without forcing his hand.
What is your idea of a good school?
The one that comes from the Constitution. Made of inclusion, participation, education, training for the country’s democratic values, which ensures and guarantees the rights of citizens. This is the statement that must be enhanced, because on the one hand it allows the introduction of young people in the workplace and teaches them our fundamental principles. Those proposed by the government is, instead, a selective school, which is based on a business model.
The premier accuses you of impeding the change.
Before saying that they do not want to leave the school in the hands of teachers i.e. to those who teach and now he has something against the unions. He does not understand that it is the sector itself to go against him, In th last consultations, we obtained 92% consensus and hence we are more than legitimised to move.
What participation will be there today?
There will be a large mobilisation because people feel this problem so much. The school belongs to the country and when one intervenes on it, it must be done by all. Top-down reforms have never worked.
And if the Government were not to lend an ear to you? What will you do?
In the meantime, we’ll see how the story ends: the government has the power to propose but legislative sovereignty rests with Parliament. If the Commission were to go all the way we will then decide on how to move.