Following the mobilisation on 5th May, the school has taken to the streets again in an act of protest against the government’s school reform ‘good schooling’, a bill drawn up by Renzi-Giannini to return competitiveness to Italian public educational system. The strike will involve all staff: teachers, principals and Ata alike (i.e. administrative clerks) and is part of a larger initiative that has been sub- divided into three different appointments, 5th may (with the participation of the three major trade union confederations), on 6th May and the appointment for today. While in the two previous occasions, representatives of elementary and kindergarten personnel took part, today sees the participation of the lower primary and high school including technical and professional schools.
The mobilisation will last a whole day and was organised by various trade-unions including CobasScuola and Asa, as well as Unicobas, Autoconvocati Rome and USI. Crucial points of the reform under objection are: strengthening of decisional powers of the school-principals thus increasing school autonomy, changes in the system of performance-assessment of teachers and invalsi. At the heart of the dispute are the tests that students should be taking in this period . Some unions have thus provided an alternative to the mass protests on the squares referred to “short strike of employees”. This should take place on a regular basis at school where the teachers though presenting themselves donot hand the tests to the pupils. It was in particular the Usb to propose this type of protest but the Ministry of Education and Research has not yet clarified whether this type of action will mean a reduction in the salaries of teachers.
According to research of Skuola.net carried out on about 2 thousand students, as many as 45% of the pupils have declared that there will be protests against the test in their schools. This datum mainly comes from pupils from high schools, while those from technical and professional schools account for less. Only 17% from primary school pupils consider the invalsi tests useful for an assessment of schools and a way to improve the quality. The remaining percentage is not satisfied with the content and modalities of the survey: about 1 out of 3 thinks that one single national test cannot take into account the different contexts, but there are also those who are opposed to the system of multiple question tests (15%) and those who would be forbidden to use the test to a performance rating (14 percent). In addition, a good 14 % consider the invalsi of no use whatsoever owing to irregularities that often occur due to the boycott on the part of teachers and pupils themselves. The same poll suggests that one pupil out of five has no idea at all on what the invalsi test is and does not understand what its purpose is for. There are doubts on the same on “Student Questionnaire”, often at the centre of controversy because of questions about family background and socio-economic students, albeit entirely anonymous. 27% do not understand what its purpose is, and 17% is totally contrary in giving such information on invalsi. 18% have doubts on the correctness of their teachers and fear that they could “peek’ the test for other purposes.
Following the general strike on May 5th, the government has intervened on the school reform in an effort to meet the demands of the personnel. But the changes brought to the test seem more soft than it was thought at first. Specifically, the new bill will clarify that all temporary school staff will be hired till the supply list of teachers has been closed. Only 23,000 kindergarten-teachers will be taken on at a later time, when the reform on education 0-6 years will be in force. The public contest will cover 60,000 winners and next regulation will assess educational degrees and professional carreer. Let us examine the three most contested points: first of all, an amendment has been approved whereby the principle of the school will direct the three-year plan of training, the teachers will process it and a school board will approve it. As regards to the issues, they will have a sub-provincial territorial capacity and will hire all people on temporary contracts. Teachers can be chosen by the school-principal depending on their curriculum but teachers too, will be able to apply to a particular school. As for the 200 million bonus’ to be distributed to teachers, the choice has been left to the principals who will be supported by an assessment committee comprising in two teachers, representatives of parents and pupils. The bonus can also be used to “withhold” teachers considered valid in the school where they already teach.