Few austerity measures make a society feel more vulnerable than education spending cuts. Whether exacted on a federal or local level, the consequences tend to be the same: a lessening of opportunities for young people, and a heightening of class differences between those who can afford to pay for their schooling, and those who cannot.
When histories are written of the Euro Crisis, it will be crucial to determine how badly public education in the EU was damaged by the cuts demanded by Brussels. Though economists tend to focus on universities, and their role in creating competitive workforces, elementary school education is just as important, albeit further removed from the labor market.
The following Sinistra Critica flyer, posted outside of a squat, in Turin, is eye-opening, in this regard. With few English-language resources available to study the politics of Italian elementary education, it gives a good sense of the crisis, despite it’s obvious political partisanship. Americans, in particular, will find many commonalities here. Chicago, anybody?
Two schools, two educational projects: Rosselli middle school and Spinelli middle school
At the beginning of the year, with a Turin Municipality managing disposition (2012 45113007,) a controversial proposal has been proposed for a “usage plan for school buildings” that has already raised the ire of teachers, parents, city inhabitants and council members.
The Municipal council and council member Pellerino thinks that, in order to solve the problem of Spinelli middle school, evicted by the Province and for years in search of a suitable location, it is possible to evict another school.
Even if using the spaces of the closed Muratori elementary school, Rosselli and Spinelli middle schools would (still) be crammed in the building on Via Ricasoli.
Suggestions of the transfer are varied and imaginative; unfortunately none of them takes into consideration the childrens’ needs and the education project that in recent years, thanks to the teachers’ work and to their parents’ active participation, has made the Carlo and Nello Ricasoli school increasingly beautiful and attractive for its didactic methods.
Probably the council member of Education Politics ignores that a school is not only a building with corridors and rooms to be crammed, but a complex system of relations and educational processes; moreover, thinking about the unification of two schools, in order to adapt the location and furniture, it’s necessary to have money that – it is said- will not be allocated.
Not finding a proper arrangement for the Spinelli school within the large number of public buildings, but confining to the buildings already housing the Rosselli and Muratori schools, illustrates the will of local and national administrations to reduce the infrastructure and the resources for public educational services and to support private schools.
In the choices made by municipal administration, Sinistra Critica sees the will to apply austerity and impoverishment politics that are destroying PUBLIC EDUCATION, and will eventually privatize it. For the rich children, there will be excellent educational routes; for others, professional low-level schools. This is demonstrated by the suggestion to reduce high school by one year in order to cut down costs and educational quality.
Sinistra Critica fights against austerity politics that compel schools and hospitals to shut down for the lack of money. The government finds money for bomber planes, for military weapons, for huge and useless (public) works, such as the tunnel for high velocity train in (the) Val di Susa, fin order to give money to banks and speculators.
Turin Municipality is in debt and has destroyed its territory to host Olympic games, donating public money to private companies and to building speculation.
Sinistra Critica wants different decisions to be taken, defending and granting excellent scholastic instruction for everyone. There are resources, as well as educational ability of teachers and other school operators; there is no reason to reduce school infrastructures!
Different choices, different politics, are necessary!
Sinistra Critica fights for a public school supported by the necessary resources!
Sinistra Critica in the local council supports teachers, school workers, (and) pupils’ parents demanding adequate investment for educational activities.
Sinistra Critica Torino via S.Giulia 64
Tel 0118177972 cell. 3463588091 www.sinistracritica.org
Translated from the Italian by Giulia Pace. Introduction and photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.