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True Educational Autonomy: The Solution to Argentina’s Teacher Conflict

By: Marcelo Duclos - Apr 13, 2017, 11:19 am
The solution to Argentina's teacher conflict
Political parties on all sides say this issue is of high priority, but proposals have been limited to increasing salaries and punting the issue for the next administration. (Twitter)

EspañolArgentina’s education system began, years ago, to decline at a drastic pace. Or rather, it died long ago and it seems that neither politicians nor teachers not, unfortunately, parents are aware of it.

The graduation rate is increasingly droppings, violence in the classroom is commonplace and authorities have no solution to it. Students don’t understand the texts they study, because the only thing that actually matters is that they’re in the classroom at all, and not at home during a teach strike. The situation is so precarious that one might ask whether public education in Argentina is even a productive means of intellectual development for young people.

The social reality is so delicate that we can’t leave out of the picture that for many families in emergency situations, school offers at least one opportunity for one meal a day for their children. But that can’t distance us from the debate surrounding improving the country’s education.

Political parties on all sides say this issue is of high priority, but proposals have been limited to increasing salaries and punting the issue for the next administration.

All the teacher’s marches create a scene of thousands of educators mobilizing around a common goal — a uniform mass moving with the same slogan and with the same need. One can be for or against the claim, but …. does anyone wonder why those thousands of teachers have to be paid the same?

Imagine any trade and ask what would result if its workers had been unionized and received the same income regardless of performance and with no possibility of innovation. That’s why this scenario has come about.

 

Though it should sound absurd in the 21st century, the Argentine provinces agrees on a collective teaching salary and all teachers, regardless of their attitude and aptitude, are creditors of the same salary. There is no possibility of innovation in methodologies or curricula. The result is the failure of socialism … that is, of collectivism driven from the state.

Despite the fact that it sounds even more absurd, the only proposal to reverse this situation is to end supposed “provincial autonomy” so that everything is centralized under the orbit of the national state. That disaster scenario would be even worse.

If the supposed “provincial autonomy” were transferred to a true autonomy, the result would be revolutionary. The educational model does not allow for any concurrent competition, so there is no chance of getting out of this maze. The only answer is freedom and competition.

Within the private sector, reform is simple. Ministries of education should stop intervening and impose methodologies and content to unleash innovation and productive incentives. In the state sector, this reform could be applied perfectly if the government subsidy is replaced with demand rather than supply. That is, parents receive educational vouchers or checks instead of the schools receiving their income, regardless of their efficiency. The attitude of the education sector, if it were to attract clientele, if it wants to ensure its subsistence, would look to the results of all other sectors that see progress.

In the same way that socialism failed in each country in which it was implemented, sectors that are subject to collectivism will continue to fail, with no possibility of innovation and where there is no competition.

When an Argentine teacher is free to propose new methods of teaching and encourage outstanding performance, it guarantees him greater economic remuneration. That’s the only way this situation will change and how an unbearable decline can be reversed.

Marcelo Duclos Marcelo Duclos

Marcelo Duclos is a reporter for the PanAm Post from Buenos Aires. He studied journalism at Taller Escuela Agencia (TEA) and went on to pursue a master's degree in Political Science and Economics at Eseade. Follow him on Twitter: @MarceloDuclos