Monday, March 18, 2013

hell no, we won't go.

you may or may not remember that amalio ran for union president in santiago a few months ago. he didn't win. and while i'm thankful he didn't, it bothers me why he didn't. see, everything on the island is political. you get a job if you are blessed to know someone connected. you get government benefits like bonus-cards for gasoil or food or electricity if you happen to be distantly related to someone in city hall. while we are pretty connected (and no, that's not how we've gotten our jobs), amalio decided to go with a political party that had no chance of winning anyway. this party doesn't have enough pull to be important.
but the campaign was built on that idea. see, if you vote for the union that sympathizes (for lack of a better word... they're way more entrenched than sympathizers) with the political party that is in power, can you really trust the union leaders to question those in power?

in this country you can't. if you did, you'd lose your position. and your position is far more important than the position of thousands of people around you. and so now, the adp (teachers union) is in a sticky situation - they need to stand up to the government appointed officials from their own party. and risk their position.

strikes and protests in latin america often
consist of burning tires - this tire happened
today in a suburb of santiago as students
protested the state of education. (picture
credit: gentetuya.com)
for the past few years, there has been an intense campaign to have the government approve 4% of the GDP to education. when danilo medina took office in august, the battle for the 4% was ended and everyone foresaw great changes in education.

you see. a teacher in the public school system gets paid a base salary of 8,000 dominican pesos. roughly 200 US dollars. to boost up their pay, there are incentives: having a degree (bachelors, masters, etc...), years of service, evaluations, etc...
and even in this country, nobody can have a dignified life on 8,000 pesos. and to spout out rhetoric about the importance of education and pay teachers - educated and dedicated professionals - such a low pay is the equivalent of spitting in the faces of those same teachers. and when you top that low pay with the poor treatment and working conditions, you might as well just pull an r. kelly and pee on the teachers while they're down.

teachers in barahona gathered together in a town square
to decide whether or not to strike after the education
superintendent denied yet another contract request.
(photo credit: gentetuya.com) 
since january they have been in talks, trying to demand a 100% salary increase. and while i don't agree with their demands (because the economical effects on the country would be insane), i believe that teachers deserve a raise and a contract and proper representation and people who will fight for them. they also deserve decent classrooms, less than 60 (yes, 60) students in a class, materials as simple as chalk and as complicated as science labs.

but in order to have someone fight for them, they'll need to put their big-kid pants on and fight for themselves first. does that mean a strike? maybe. does it mean marching and protesting? probably. there is no change in the future if we don't stand up in the present.

this week, i've seen little sparks. people standing up and speaking out. teachers making decisions for themselves and not following the edicts sent down from on high. schools closed. students marching. and if there are enough sparks, maybe we'll see a change.


 
 



1 comment:

Erin said...

For as much as we complain about our jobs here in the US (for good reason, often), this is a good reminder that we have it far better than others. It's all relative, I guess.

I've learned this year how much teachers are abused without unions, so I applaud those who are fighting hard for teachers everywhere. We're with you!!