by Mario Pomini *
The Minister of Education, Patrizio Bianchi, announced an extraordinary plan for school construction, at a cost of around two billion euros. Maybe he inherited this passion from the then Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, which launched an ambitious program, rhetorically called “beautiful schools”. Then this project got lost along the way, both due to the reduction of funds and administrative slowness. Now the minister Pd we try again and probably the outcome will be the same: a temporary media coverage and some streams of funding.
One wonders if the problem of the Italian school really consists of buildings and infrastructures that would be poor and not very functional. Much has been done in recent years by virtuous Municipalities and Provinces, and probably much remains to be done. But a management of school buildings – in my opinion – should not have a great emphasis and be part of a correct ordinary management of public assets, with the consequences that can be imagined on the quality of teaching. School building can be a problem that can be solved with interventions lump sum as in the seventies when he had an exceptional impulse, but the knots of the Italian school probably lie elsewhere. The two billion unearthed by the minister could be better spent, again for school. The answers can be many and we indicate one.
Recently also Confindustriathrough the voice of the President of the Agnelli Foundation, he insisted that one of the structural problems of the school is the lack of a real economic career of the teachers, as well as of the administrative staff. She also understood it Brunette, well-known flogger of the slackers of the public service, that the competitions of the PNRR are deserted because a graduate is not interested in earning 1,700 euros a month, taking into account the various expenses to be incurred. If we then consider that the starting salary for a graduate teacher is 1,450 eurosthe problem becomes even more acute.
How then to remedy this situation of low attractiveness of the teaching profession? One solution could be to start treating teachers like all other professionals (graduates). The legislation provides that these over a three-year period carry out mandatory updating activities. The teachers, it is not known for what reason, are excluded from this obligation. To ask for something more, of course, you also need an economic incentive. Here then is that the two billion from Minister Bianchi could serve the purpose. It could be possible, in a very simple way and without accounting distortions, to increase the remuneration of teachers’ function, on the model of many other professional categories of the public service, and at the same time make a didactic and disciplinary refresher course compulsory. Taking into account that the teachers are about 800,000with the sum proposed by the minister, an incentive of 3000-4000 euros per year can be offered to teachers.
A scandalous proposal? Certainly not, because these incentives are quite common in the world of private companies, and even more substantial. Certainly, in this way, teachers of series A (those who update themselves) and teachers of series B (those who remain in their current position) would be created, but the wind of neoliberalism is too strong to be able to obtain more significant results. Maybe this business of professional updating it could be on a voluntary basis as foreseen, among other things, by the NRP. Too bad that the National Plan does not indicate the resources and starts everything from 2026, therefore a project without any conviction.
The president of the Agnelli Foundation recently wrote a book to prove who the school is blocked. Thesis acceptable in many respects, but largely insufficient. The school is not only blocked but widely opposed by a political class, as well as by a large part of public opinion, which does not yet consider teaching as a real profession, but as a sort of privileged status (which in any case requires the achievement of a degree). This old populist ideology dies hard. Curious that economists, when they are in the professorship, do nothing but enhance human capital and the acquisition of knowledge, that is education, while then when they are in government, like the economist Bianchi, they act in a completely different way. Schools perfectly refurbish and gleaming but with unmotivated teachers, they are simply empty fortresses that are of little use.
* Associate Professor of Political Economy, Padua