Oct 25, 2006

Youth IS the future

Teachers, students, parents will hit the pavement today in Greece in a mass rally for education.

The teachers have been on strike for six grueling weeks. The government isn't showing signs of faltering. Personally, I'm proud of the teachers. In fact, I'm OK with any working sector that raises its fist and demands the self-evident right to a decent salary or better working conditions. The media and the government have slung a lot of slandering boolsheet at the teachers and they've been without a paycheck for six weeks. I hope they don't cave in. Teachers are our kids' role-models, if they back down now, society will lose more than a few school lessons, it will lose its dignity.
It's not only about teachers' wages, the demand for a better education has been instigated first and foremost by the students themselves!
When you have a student movement as dynamic as this... then the future looks promising!

English news sources: here and here.

Οταν έχεις ένα τόσο δυναμικό μαθητικό κίνημα... τότε το μέλλον μοιάζει πιο ελπιδοφόρο! Μη μασάτε παιδιά!

Φεγγαράκη μου λαμπρό.. Βιβλία, όχι πύραυλοι Δημόσια και δωρεάν παιδεία


nuntius said...

Youth is the future... if they (we) allow it to grow up

melusina said...

I don't really agree - there are, of course, some points I agree with, but many I don't.

Teachers all over the world are underpaid. The system in Greece is not the best, and it needs a hell of a lot more than better paid teachers to fix it. In fact, I think paying the teachers what they are asking for won't actually change a damn thing. There needs to be a system of checks - for teachers and students - way before students end up taking their national exams. Teachers should not have instant tenure, nor should they have the highest salary the minute they start teaching. There should be a tiered pay scale, based partly on experience, partly on effective teaching, partly on dedication.

If I had my way, teachers would be paid as much as movie stars or sports figures - but in order to pay teachers well, I want something in return. I want something that proves they are doing their jobs, that they are good teachers, that they are dedicated to their positions. Not that they got stuck to their career by test scores on the national exams and keep teaching because it is a permanent position and it is better than being unemployed.

There *are* things the government can offer to give teachers what they want, but if teachers aren't willing to compromise too, it isn't going to work. Teachers willing to strike for six weeks - which is a full grading term in Tennessee public schools - are not teachers dedicated to their jobs. The government and the teachers should have come up with a viable compromise after the first week.

At this point, I have very little hope for the education system in Greece. It doesn't show signs of improving.

Flubberwinkle said...

Nuntis, Oh, they'll let them grow up alright. "They" just want to change young people's dreams and demands of a better world to fit their system and not upset "them".

The educational system in Greece s-u-c-k-s. I'd be naive to support that raising teachers' salaires will undo the evils of greek schooling, (which I clearly didn't).

The fact that teachers all over the world are underpaid says a lot about the global system's economic priorites and social ethics. I think we concur that health and education should be numero unos on every country's agendas.

I agree with you that teachers (and other public servants) shouldn't have instant tenure, it should be earned. But, since most things in Greece are crooked, I'm afraid that evaluating a teacher's performance will revert us to the witch-hunt days e.g. political or personal discriminations of ye-olde days (not very far back, which Greece is still licking its wounds).

If the Greek Ministry of Education truly cared about the quality of education our kids are getting, they wouldn't allow private tutoring centers (frontistiria) to flourish on every other block.

It's like telling the teachers that they're doing a shitty job, that the school program is lacking and it points a guilty finger at parents "are you really doing the best for your kid?"...

So, we send kids off to 7 hours of school in the morning and then another 4-6 hours in the evening.
Oh, by the way, kids, these are the best years of your lives, ENJOY! Yeah, kids love us adults...

The greek government's idea of upgrading the issue of education is "amending" article 16 of the Greek Constitution, and altering that little annoying part regarding "free education". The government has begun to set the stage for this by gift-wrapping last year's students for private college and IEKs (vocational institutions).
Without improving or upgrading ANYTHING in the rotten school system, the Ministry decided that whoever can't make it above the 10 mark minimum grade at university exams, he/she will not have access to higher educational levels.

A teacher's salary of 1000euros (particularly if you have a family to feed) is scraping by, not living... So, most teachers make extra money at frontistiria and private lessons. And it all goes round and round. A sound and stable educational policy for a better public school for all parties involved could put a stop to all this madness.

p.s. Daughter#1's frontistirio (NOT schooling, because she attended public school, just tutoring) for her senior year of high school alone was 3,420 euros (that's about 3 and 1/2 months salary for me). I'm not even tallying foreign languages and other extra-curricular learning activities.

p.p.s. Greek MPs' basic monthly salaries start at 6000 euros, not counting participation in special committees and whatever b.s. boards they come up with to get more money.
But, teachers asking for ~1300euros is bad for the greek economy.

p.p.p.s. The irony of all this: According to the Greek government, 1200 euros monthly income for a four-member family is below the poverty level.

mamselle said...

wow! 6 weeks is a long time to be on strike
1000 Euros per month?
that is low
in Canada they are paid more
this depends on their level of education as well, and years of service, too
you know i am a public school teacher...the system is slowly...but surely...turning me off
i think that if i had children, i would send them to private school or teach them at home
that's a terrible thing to say from a teacher, isn't it ;O
there is so much politics in teaching...when i started it was still such an 'old boys' club
now it's becoming an affirmative action experiment
it's rarely what you do ... it's who you know or now, what your background is
also, there are some very poor teachers in my school...and nothing will ever happen to them because of the union we are in
i don't know what the answer to any public education system is
i think that's what burns some teachers out...it's the inequity of so many things - salaries, duties, allowances, favouritism
i think that's what bothers so many people in life in general...the perceived inequity of things
i'm rambling now
1200 euros a month is poverty - hopefully the teacher has a spouse!

Flubberwinkle said...

Mamselle, Thanks for your insight and input, which has an extra added importance, since you are in fact a public school teacher. I've seen many friends who are teachers start off with high hopes, only to have their wings clipped by the same factors you mentioned.
It's sad that nations around the world aren't putting more weight (aka money and resources) into public schooling.

melusina said...

Flubberwinkle, I think in spirit we agree. In general the entire Greek system (not just education) is so effed up, I find it sad, not just because I live here, but because I think the people of Greece, not to mention the cultural standard of Greece, deserve so much more.

Education and health care are what I think to be the two most important issues in the world, unfortunately, very few heads of state agree with that stance.

Greece needs a major overhaul of their educational system, and fast, otherwise educating children here seems almost pointless. I hate the frontistiria system - the fact that it is needed and required. I hate the fact that national exams are the end-all, be-all of a child's educational experience. I hate that one thing determines your fate for life (unless of course your family has some pull somewhere) which probably leads some (many?) people into a career track they don't want.

Of course, all this is not to say that the U.S. system is much better. Somehow the best teachers end up getting punished in that system. I have many friends who are elementary level teachers in Nashville and my innocence was completely broken the first time I heard the group of them talking about life as a teacher.

What I had read about the teachers here was that they were asking for an increase from 900 euros a month to almost 1500 euros a month. To me, that sounded unreasonable for an instant demand - I could see coming to an agreement that ended up with a higher salary (even higher than 1500) over time and with experience, with a smaller increase now, but obviously a jump that high would be enormously difficult for the government to provide. I guess the press doesn't do a good job with the facts.

I just don't agree with a six week strike - for any reason, but especially for teachers. In America, if a child is out of school that long without home schooling he or she has to be held back a year. I don't see how kids this year can continue without being held back a year. Also, though, I come from a country where striking is relatively rare, except in the factory and hard labor market (or truckdrivers and that sort of thing) - and even then it has been relatively rare. So the way Greeks strike is a bit shocking to me.

Yea, the government people get paid too much considering how little public employees are paid. But to be honest, I haven't been overly impressed by most public employees I've had to deal with.

This is an interesting debate, but it needs to be more than that. Wasn't there some writer, Huxley or Orwell or someone like that, who said something to the effect that the happy government is one that won't educate their children? Or something like that. It seems to be coming true.

Beerli said...

The truth is, the young ones are the arrows to the future and they need to be nurtured and educated so they can manage their lives and our world. Teachers write on the lives of students as well as filling their heads. I hope the Greek teachers are heard and it's nice to know they have support.