Calenda, the school program reminds me of De Amicis: utopia, good intentions and an overview

by Mario Pomini *

The parties and small parties begin to present theirs election programs in light of the upcoming autumn elections. Among the many chapters that will be taken into account, one certainly cannot do without the one about school and education. The world of schools involves almost a million electors/electricians, and therefore winning their consensus becomes an important asset to any election strategy.

That Action programthe coveted and highly active little game created by the indefatigable Carlo Calenda, which is proposed as the novelty between the two banks, right and left. I was hoping to find some important ideas and instead reading the action program struck me not for what it contains, but for what it does not contain. In particular, there is no suggestion of the main characters of the school, the teachers, who I think are totally ignored. Here are some points, not all.

Calenda’s program opens with the project of a strong contrast tofunctional illiteracy and early school leaving. As you know, these two plagues affect Italian society, but they are tasks that, so to speak, belong to the social administration. Of course, the school can contribute, but in an indirect way. If Italian adults don’t read, is it the school’s fault?

If the school dropout rate is high in many areas of the country, I don’t think the teachers as such can do much. It is a task that essentially belongs to families. Even the idea of long time for everyone in elementary school it is perfectly acceptable, a proposition that has always clashed with his own, however high costs. But even this is a question that does not concern teachers in the proper sense.

Then there is also a small breath of utopia when it is proposed to send the best teachers to the most disadvantaged areas and pay them more. The book of Edmondo De Amicis, A master book, which tells the story of the elementary school teachers of the late nineteenth century, true educational missionaries who gave up everything for love of their students. But precisely that is a very literary fiction far from reality. Then one tap for the circle and one for the barrel. For Calenda, the right to free educational choice must be respected and at the same time investments in primary schools provided by PNRR, very few in fact.

In this school with good intentions what is missing? There are no specific proposals for teachers. Proposals that concern their professional status and their economic career. Something has been seen in the Draghi government, which has just foreseen, albeit from 2026, an acceleration of the economic career of teachers on the basis of a specific educational activity. Why the reformer Calenda did not follow this path is difficult to understand. There is no shortage of funds. If 16 billion of Pnrr were used, just to give an example, but many others could be raised to fund the super building bonus, a handful of billions could be found to start solving the problem of the economic career of teachers. Instead, Calenda also preferred to follow the usual paths of entrusting the school with tasks which are very important but which are not its constitutive element, which is to train and prepare the students well.

At this point the program is too Italia Viva by Matteo Renzi is more advanced because it includes three professors: introductory, regular and expert with different levels of responsibility and remuneration. Here the problem is different. Matteo Renzi was prime minister and could include this hypothesis in his reform of Good school, which I think no one remembers now. Instead, he preferred the path of a pseudo-corporatization led by school leaders (aka principals), which does not seem to have borne much fruit, but has further worsened the school climate. It therefore does not seem very credible.

While in the center, we have fun with vague suggestions of inclusion and improvement (we await the left), the right is much more effective electorally. Giorgia Meloni has already said that she wants to eliminate the Invalsi tests (Actually, I don’t think it can) and I’m already hearing applause from many teachers who, by the way, are against it for very different reasons than Melonis. That brand proposition will be even sharper League by Marco Pittoni, who will re-propose the recruitment ope legis (European) of temporary workers with more than three years’ seniority. Indecent proposal on its merits, but which has its own significance given that the Ministry does not do public competitions.

To curb this school populism There is a need for serious and useful proposals for teachers who intentionally represent the focal point of the education. The progressive front, if it wants to say something new to the teachers and convince them to vote, must start from theirs professional expectations. Of course on a voluntary basis and gradually. But also with sufficient resources.

In this connection, I took the liberty of doing some calculations on the proposals for action, and I estimated by default a number broadly over 10 billion of euros. Since Calenda has stated in another part of the program that he does not want to increase the public deficit, it will be interesting to understand where he finds the money.

* Lecturer in political economy, Padua

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