"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another Letter from a Teacher to a President

"Campaign for Our Public Schools" in the United States launched a call for teachers, parents, students, and concerned citizens to write letters to the government starting with the White House:
Downloaded from http://campaignforourpublicschools.org/
Most of these letters criticize the "Race to the Top" program of the current US administration. Although these letters deal with public school education in the United States, the thoughts expressed in some of these letters are relevant to the Philippines. As an example, I have taken liberty to extract a couple of paragraphs from a letter written by an eight grade language arts teacher in Illinois, Diana Rogers. These sections, in my opinion, apply to the Philippine situation. The people who currently influence Philippine basic education, I think, need to hear and take these thoughts seriously:
...resources have been taken away from public schools and funneled into privately run charter schools that have not been shown to be more successful. Resources that were not available to support public schools suddenly and mysteriously became available to support these corporate enterprises.
People say that throwing money at a problem does not solve it. However, taking money away does exacerbate problems, even if money is not the only thing needed to solve them. The task of educating children takes considerable resources. As a nation it is not only our duty, but it is in our best interests to provide the considerable resources necessary to give all children the opportunity of a good educations. That is why it is a matter of priorities....
...Instead of addressing the many complex problems that contribute to our national education crisis, the problems in education are being blamed on “bad” teachers, while it is said that what we need are “great teachers.” But great teachers and potential great teachers will no longer be willing to serve in the teaching profession if they continue to face the mistreatment and lack of backing that educators are currently experiencing. If you really believe that great teachers can make all the difference, then the government should do all in its power to attract and support great teachers. It should provide them with the aides, resources, class sizes, technology, in-service education, and all other assistance necessary to help them do their job. And it should pay them like the professionals that they are. It should accord teachers respect rather than heaping abuse on them....
Philippine teachers have been saying these. And some students as well. The League of Filipino Students (LFS) recently issued a statement regarding the railroading of K to 12 in the Philippines' House of Representatives. Here are some excerpts:
...The real impetus behind the educational reforms is the interest of giant financial corporations such as Asian Development Bank and World Bank in exchange for loans. This has been cited by Carol Almeda, former president of ACT (Alliance of Concerned Teachers) in a statement denouncing RBEC. DepEd’s thrust for K-12 includes Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) as a main proponent for bringing in private corporations and business into social services, while borrowing money from the ADB... 
...It is indicated under sections 8-10 of the bill that DepEd can allow educators that have not taken formal units in teaching and education, and who are not licensed, provided that they pass LET after five years of initial teaching. Is this a risk we’re willing to take? This move can only prove economical for DepEd as volunteer educators’ wages are a lot cheaper than licensed teachers. Ultimately, this program makes our teachers susceptible to unjust wages, and unjust labor practices. This has been proven with the implementation of the Universal Kindergarten where the grade 1 teachers are compelled to also teach Kinder (due to the lack of teachers) but their salaries remain pinned down to below minimum....
Unfortunately, their calls are ignored:
I don't think the Philippines public school teachers are of the sorriest lot among our country's professionals. Soldiers and policemen who are required to give off their lives in battlefields and most adverse circumstances are paid much less. And so are midwives and nurses who are more physically burdened. The private school teachers are even most disadvantaged: very few have tenures, many extend teaching hours and related work without overtime pay, and I know of some teaching in ma-pormang schools whose salaries and benefits are lower than the janitors, drivers and messengers of my former office. But they make less noise and their dedicated work shows greater internal efficiency. With higher salaries, allowances and other fringe benefits provided by both local and national government, they are the envy of private school teachers and hence, their heavy exodus to the public schools. Based on the patterns of salary increases and rate of radical politicization, public school teachers will continue to complain and cry of poverty even if you increase their salaries five times more. 
-An Education Leader in the Philippine Government

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