Can a country consider itself civilized when every year they fire in June and rehire in September more than 150,000 people for 10/20/30 years? It happens in Italy, in the public school system , it is a global shame!
September is just around the corner and in most Northern hemisphere countries, children, parents, teachers and school staff are getting ready to head back to school. While on vacation here in the States, all I can see on TV and in the media in general are “back to school” ads and commercials. A common links between us all, no matter what country your from, right? What about the teacher’s hiring process? How does it work in your country?
In Italy, the country where I teach and have been teaching for 15 years, as a substitute teacher, the hiring process is more concerned with the firing of rather than the hiring.
Today I want to show you how Italian substitute teachers live all, BUT the “Dolce Vita”.
Every year the Italian Ministry of Education, now led by Mr. Profumo, after Mrs. Gelmini left (Amen to that), when the Berlusconi government fell in December of 2011, hires over 150,000 teachers on annual contracts with expiration dates of June 30th. Some lucky colleagues (every year, fewer) get a contract up to August 31st (thus receiving a summer salary). We, as I am part of the 150,000 substitute teachers, get contracts that do not have a specific start date and vary from region to region and from province to province. Example, up to two years ago I was teaching in Siena, Tuscany and usually sub teachers received their contracts on September 1st. While last year I moved back to my home city of Naples and we received our annual contracts on October 4th. Thus, instead of starting school with our students, we started school a month later and pupils were left in classes without teachers, losing precious time on their education.
There is no continuity in the Italian school system, as sub teachers, rarely get the possibility of returning to the same school the following academic year. My becoming a teacher in Italy happened by pure chance, it all started when I moved to Italy many years ago, but I would have never imagined that my teaching career would have remained on the temporary status for 15 years, now going on to my 16th. Italy is probably one of the few countries in Europe, where a European directive, stating the lawful hiring after three years of reiterating contracts, is not applied. How can it be possible that a country part of the E.U. can decide on its own accord, to not apply an EU directive? How is possible that Italian teachers aren’t protected by European laws just like any other European citizen?
It is absurd that after 15 years of teaching in the Italian school system, I could tomorrow not be re-hired due to budget cuts and be without a job at 42 years of age, with family and kids, after having invested my entire educational and professional life in it. The irony of all of this, just to add a little more to the story, is that I wasn’t even able to purchase a new car this year due to the fact of not having a stable income, which didn’t qualify me for a car loan, even if I can show that I’ve worked for the past 15 years.
Italian substitute teachers are hired and fired in this manner for some, over 30 years and never achieving a stability and a permanent position. The Italian Minister of Education Mr. Profumo says, that Italy can’t afford to hire that many teachers, that we have to cut, cut, cut, there isn’t enough money to give everyone a permanent position. Yet, THEY (government officials and politicians), are able to get two salaries, or more, you see in Italy a Senator or a House Rep, if they are chosen to be Ministers get two salaries, one for being a member of Parliament and one for being a Minister. Let’s not even start talking about all of the benefits and privileges that they get, government cars, cell phone with free unlimited calls, cheaper prices in their Senate or House restaurant, free public transportation, etc. etc. No wonder there isn’t enough money to pay for the hiring of teachers and not, the money is needed for their perks. There is a flaw in all of this, the only ones paying for the crisis created by the governments and banks, are the people. Politicians and governments continue on enjoying all the best their positions have to offer and on living in another reality and caring less about the people who put them there.
As I wrote in one of my past posts, sub teachers have to file unemployment within the first week from the ceasing of their annual contract, which means by July 7th of every year. By July 3rd, my self and hundreds of thousands more teachers, filed for unemployment. As of today August 21st, I haven’t yet received a cent of my unemployment and like myself many of my colleagues all over Italy. Now, one has to explain, how can families survive during the summer months while waiting for the unemployment office, called INPS, to send them their checks? Do they think that our children live of just breathing air during the summer months? I would be curious to know if the children of the unemployment officials live of air like our kids during the off season. The problem is that the body is rotten from the head down. Which brings me quickly to wanting to share with you a brief story on the CEO of unemployment in Italy.
General Director of INPS, Antonio Mastrapasqua, earns in a year 1 million and 200 euros, $1.495M (of which 216,000 – $269,225.97 only from being the CEO of INPS), how is it that possible? Well, Italy is a unique country in itself and unless you live here you may never know, but politicians, government officials (like Mr. Profumo as well), etc. can hold more than one position at a time, the so-called “assignment stratification”. This guy holds 25 positions at the same time and receives salaries for all of them. So why am I telling you all of this? Because this man is the one in charge of the offices that need to pay us our unemployment. How can a man who earns over a million euro not be held responsible for the delays in paying unemployment to hundreds of thousands of families all over Italy? How can he not be held responsible for families not being able to pay their mortgages, gas bills, electric bills, etc? I mean, we all know that bills don’t stop coming just because you are out of job. So where is the merit in all of this? Why doesn’t he get fired for not doing his job well?
Last but not least the employment lottery will begin once again in the next few weeks, some of us will be fortunate for one more year, we’ll be able to manage survival for yet another school year not knowing what the next year will bring, job wise. We still thank God for a yet again annual contract. Is this what we call life? Is this called living “The Dolce Vita?” I can assure you that it is all but, that!
See you next time.