School, we’re already starting on the wrong foot

We are a month and a half from the start of school in Emilia Romagna, set for September 15, and already now unions, principals and teachers know that again this year it will start wrong. As always. In our province there are almost a thousand vacant professorships, that is, with more than a thousand missing teachers, distributed in each order of school classes. It’s been that way for years. You ask yourself: But if we already know at the beginning of August that the situation will be like this, is it possible that we cannot run for cover before? No. For reasons that are difficult to explain to the students’ parents. One particular: Precarious teachers, who may have taught as substitutes in the school for years, are not employed permanently, but only temporarily, to save money and limit their rights.

There is a shortage of teachers in all subjects, that is true. Barely 500 professors in the upper secondary school alone. But the biggest scandal concerns support teachers, that is, those who are delegated to look after and help children with disabilities. In Italy, about half of the necessary ones are missing. The inclusion of disabled students in public schools has long been an excellence of the Italian school. In many countries of the world, students with disabilities do not actually attend schools for so-called “normal” students, but differentiated schools, as was also the case in Italy until the 1970s.

It is clear that no excellence is born by chance: these children need more support and help. And a support teacher dedicated to only one or a few of them costs the state as much as a teacher in a class of 24 or 28 so-called normal students. That is, 24 or 28 times more. In fact, it is no coincidence that private schools tend not to have internally disabled students, but possibly also of foreign origin.

Another thing that many parents of pupils do not know: for about ten years no substitutes have been appointed in the school if there is an absence of a class teacher. How do you compensate for this? Of course always to save on the skin of the youngest?

Or by dividing the students into classes other than their own – maybe you put 5 children from 1st grade with them from 1st grade and have them draw a picture for four hours. Or use the support teachers to replace the classroom teachers. Simply put: to leave the student of the class to himself and take care of the whole class.

It is clear that opening schools for disabled students, but not providing the necessary teachers as in the past, creates significant problems. Not only for teachers, but also for students. So much so that some students’ parents, but also some teachers, begin to feel punished by the presence of disabled and foreign students in their class or in their child. Because the same thing happens to foreign students: they are welcomed in our classrooms, but then the necessary staff are missing and the teachers have to be as angry as they can be. This leads to the promotion of the private school to the detriment of the public one. Inevitably. Or the regret from different teachers and parents in different classes. Because in the private school, that is paid for families who can afford it, parents are sure that they do not have students with disabilities or of foreign origin who are not followed, which can slow down the learning of their Italian children and “not disabled”. That would blow up the private school bills.

This is how racism is born.

A kind of insidious state racism promoted by the public school itself. A true paradox.

An excellence – the inclusion of students of diverse abilities and of foreign origin, which until a few decades ago was considered a flagship of our public school – risks becoming its opposite. Or it already has.

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