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(en) Italy, UCADI #168: DIFFERENTIATED AUTONOMY: THE SCHOOL (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Mon, 20 Mar 2023 09:35:05 +0200

In the application of the differentiated autonomy, the attribution to the Regions of competence in scholastic matters has a strategic and tactical importance . They would be employed by the Region, therefore teachers, school managers, but also all Ata staff would become employees of each individual Region to which they belong. A regional workforce of school personnel would be built, regional competitions banned to provide for recruitment, school management immediately regionalized; regional employment contracts they would regulate the employment relationship, both as regards the rights and duties of teachers and the salary treatment, with the possibility of the different Regions to differentiate salaries on a territorial basis. Mobility would be subtracted from union negotiation. All of this is evident from the contents of the agreements entered into by the Gentiloni government with the Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto regions, which had already formulated their requests on the school.
It is therefore possible to predict the effects of when it is happening, taking into account that a shift of resources for schools from the south to the north of the country of around one and a half billion euro is calculated. With regional education, the exercise of the right to study would be denied in the same way throughout the national territory and a double system between the national and the regional one. Schools would differentiate ever more radically, the South-North gap could only increase, the uniform diffusion of infant and full-time schools would be definitively denied, the legal value of the qualification would be compromised. But what is perhaps even more serious is that the Regions could decide autonomously on programmes, tools and resources.
In this regard, it is not a question of having the teaching of dialect or greater attention to local history but of dictating the contents of the programs, affecting more than today the choice of free textbooks, the didactic approach, the declination of the contents of the programmes, laying the foundations for an ever greater differentiation of the country. Do not overlook the possibility of deciding on the composition of the classes. In the past, attempts in this sense contained in the regional laws were stopped by the intervention of the Constitutional Court which, however, in the light of the reform may have more difficulty in intervening. And this without counting that an autonomy would go against the provisions of art. 33 of the Constitution which gives the Republic the task of dictating the general rules on education.

Differentiated autonomy for the school as a strategic weapon

The school, in its orders and grades, employs around one million people and involves a very significant number of workers/voters. Breaking up, fragmenting, destroying the contractual unity of this sector through regulatory and wage interventions means giving a very precise direction to the modification of the labor market, to wage dynamics, to the exercise of trade union rights by putting an end to the national labor contract, opening the road to wage cages, with the motivation that the different cost of living between the territories of the country would justify this choice which does not take into account the fact that in the southern regions where the real value of the wage is higher other costs such as services, from transport to health, they are more expensive, classy. Regionalizing the wages of such a large category of male and female workers would also have a strategic value in paving the way for the differentiation of all wages, restructuring the social relationships of all in a regressive perspective, through the extension of the same criterion to the whole world of work. But there's more, and this aspect concerns the ways in which wage differentiation is thought to be managed: the use of incentives and resources that come from private individuals operating in the area. Their contribution would certainly be of a different entity, which is already happening in part today a due to the unfortunate implementation of school autonomy mainly due to the "bad school" desired by Renzi, creating further differences in opportunities. With the difference that in the new regulatory context created by differentiated autonomy it would be possible to reimburse the funding received with changes to the study plans or even by increasing the incidence of hours dedicated to school/work activities in the programmes, which many victims and so much exploitation produces and has produced, especially in technical and professional institutes, but not only. The weight of training would therefore decrease, making the pompous name attributed to the Ministry that governs the school, which associates this activity with merit, an ever more evident farce.

School and territory

But the school, as a single training system, also has a function of social cohesion, especially in those areas where social unease is greater. It offers young people a unitary training space which, by removing them from the absolute and totalizing dominance of families, when not from their disinterest and even abandonment, induces them to develop values and behaviors in a protected environment that make them social actors, of citizens with rights and duties of solidarity, to accept rules of coexistence that allow the growth of awareness of themselves and of others, of the values of coexistence in diversity.
In other words, the differentiated autonomy would increase an unjust differentiation in access to public educational resources offered on the national territory that already exists, not only between Regions, but also within the same Regions and cities: nursery schools, kindergartens , full time in compulsory education, availability of gymnasiums and laboratories, effective availability of choice between several upper secondary school curricula, which in fact differ according to where one lives and grows up. And often these differences overlap with social and contextual inequalities, instead of compensating for them. Proof of this is that against a national average dropout of 12.7%, for example Sicily reaches 21.1% and Puglia 17.6%, while in Lombardy dropout is 11.3%, close to the European target of 9% by 2030.
One of the effects of this strategy which produces an undoubted impoverishment in the quality and quantity of services offered by the public school system is the strengthening of the role and social function of private schools, and in particular that of the largest private operator in the sector which is made up of confessional schools , the world from which the current Minister of Education comes, being a professor at the European University of Rome belonging to the Congregation of the Holy Cross.
Looking at what is happening with regard to the school, the implementation of differentiated autonomy would represent the arrival point of that process of dismantling the public school which had its champions with the Berlinguer law on school autonomy which gave life to the integrated public-private system, accentuated and aggravated by the reform desired by Renzi, self-styled "good school", measures which, in addition to constituting a serious attack on the public school system, have contributed to derailing the political project of the PD that these choices strongly wanted , undermining, attacking and destroying its electoral base, made up of school workers.
It is perhaps for this reason that Bonaccini, at the moment in which he is preparing to exercise his takeover bid on the party secretariat, seems to have decided, albeit amid a thousand ambiguities, to give up claiming responsibility for the school for the region he administers. We don't want to think that his current choice is motivated by the political crisis of his collaborator councilor Bianchi, then minister of Conte 2, known in the news at least regionally, for having motivated the regional request for competences on the school, citing the interests of the Municipalities as an example of the Adriatic coast to have a technical training institute to safeguard the traditional trade of collecting pans
(molluscs) once very widespread on the Riviera!

The real need for reform

Yet, the school would need a serious and articulated plan of interventions for the different grades. The country suffers from the chronic absence of kindergartens and the investments of the PNRR absolutely do not satisfy the needs also due to the inability of the Municipalities and Regions to draw up the projects and present the requests for funding or motivated by the uncertainty on the availability of resources to manage then the built structures. School construction in general would require investments in buildings, structures, laboratories, computerisation, strengthening of the library network.
A serious intervention should be put in place for the training and updating of personnel whose wages, for the same tasks and in absolute terms, are the lowest in Europe. Periodic and scheduled competitions should be envisaged for the recruitment of teachers, giving certainty on the completion times and the speed for the recruitment and entry into the role in order to avoid the shortage of staff that punctually re-emerges at each beginning of the school year. Mobility and relocation procedures should be defined fairly. The updating of personnel should be ensured by allowing periodic permits for training. The shrinkage of roles at the regional level nullifies mobility and drastically restricts it.
In some quarters it is argued that all this would best be achieved with differentiated autonomy without clarifying the fact that a differentiated training and the formation of 20 differentiated school systems would also constitute economic damage, restricting the labor market and introducing a dysfunctional rigidity in the relationship between employers and workers in the use of the necessary skills and professionalism.
The image that emerges from this project is that of a definitive retreat of the country, of its corporatization which will only have the effect of increasing the flight of young people. The number of those who emigrate to other countries and territories today amounts to about 500,000 young people a year, fueling the growing lack of workforce in the area.
It is for these reasons that it is necessary to raise awareness of what is happening and a movement of struggle that has as its specific objective the opposition to differentiated autonomy, both as regards the school and more generally. Besides countering the political project of the right, where the majority party, in the name of the unity of coalition, offers the Lega the scalp of the school and training system, it is necessary to build a political movement that demands the redevelopment of the school today subjected to a regressive management, also from the pedagogical point of view of which an Education Minister is the author who wants to introduce as an educational element the exaltation of differences, the humiliation of students, the mortification of knowledge, an increasingly provincial, restricted, elitist vision of culture, proper to the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and its guru Marcial Maciel Degollado to which it belongs.

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