translated from Spanish: Why did Chile «decide» to close hundreds of public schools and leave them without teachers?

To keep everything as it is today, in a few more years-or perhaps a couple of decades-Chile could run out of ESC Public Uelas and without teachers. The foregoing is not mere political fiction or an excess of creativity: there is data to suppose that we have a big educational problem. Part of its cause is that educational reforms tried to respond to social demands to strengthen public education, but rather worked in the opposite direction. Perhaps because the reforms failed to involve those who demanded the strengthening of public education.
Let’s leave for the public schools. This year must be published for the fourth time School management, a procedure conducted by the Agency for the quality of education that categorizes educational establishments primarily based on the scores of the standardized measurement SIMCE. The year 2018, a total of 218 schools were classified with insufficient performance for the third consecutive year. According to the law, if these schools are re-classified as insufficient this year, they would be losing ministerial recognition. It is estimated that half of these 218 establishments are public. In other words, the new local education services could start their activities by losing public schools. Repeat this in its gravity: the new public education could leave closing part of their schools, by work and grace of the management of educational establishments based on the SIMCE.
The creation of the school management procedure and that of the same agency of the quality of education is located in the remembered ‘ agreement of the raised hands ‘ in the hall Montt-Varas of the Palace of the coin, which sealed the commitments by which the class Policy processed the demands of the «No to profit» that the students carried out with the Penguin Revolution of 2006, and redirected them in a neoliberal sense. Thus, 12 years after the Penguin Uprising, instead of strengthening public education, reforms have done and are making public establishments lost by design. The cost of having made a last reform that did not take over this issue is that we will have the SIMCE closing public schools, year by year.
Let’s continue with the teachers. According to at least two studies, one of the Teaching observatory of the Center for Advanced Research in education and another of the lobby group chooses to educate, in the coming years we would have a shortage of educators to cover disciplinary areas in different regions of the country. The increased demand for covering teacher hours implies that many teachers of the system will be people who have not been trained in pedagogy, and who work with provisional permits. The main cause of the projected deficit is a design: one of the objectives of the reform of the teaching career carried out during 2015 was to reduce the offer of pedagogy programs.
As we know, the reform was resisted by voting for more than 95% of the teachers, and it meant a strike of 57 days at the time of their public discussion. While the Magisterium claimed to consider the nature of pedagogy, collaborative work, and an improvement to the precarious conditions in which teaching occurs for all teachers, the reform decided to promote greater technocratic control over the profession and training institutions, salaries based on competition between colleagues (mediated by standardized tests), and classifications of teachers in performance categories.
Teachers have come to call the latter the «double Evaluation of teachers», although in practice the situation deviates from the pedagogical sense of the evaluation and is rather in a process of allocating «tariffs» to teachers and professors. We stop evaluating and we simply use categories to segment markets and «workforce». The rhetoric about «teachers are the most important» was mixed contradictoryly with policies of control and elimination of professional autonomy that, except for the teaching profession, no other profession has in Chile. It was believed that by decree a greater selectivity of candidates to be professors could improve the prestige of the profession. The error of this approach is perhaps illustrated by the introduction of gratuity in higher education, which probably displaced the preferences of prospective applicants to pedagogy towards other careers.

Today, we see that not having listened to the teachers and their demands makes us project an unhonorable consequence of such reform: they will not have fulfilled their promises to make the profession more attractive, nor to improve the quality of the system. Those who tried to do so since the previous government were perhaps confronted with interests that did not seek the same. The problem is that the country is faced with the cost, again, of losing the strengthening of its public education system by not considering the foreseeable decline of the professional appeal of an activity in which it is difficult to work with tranquility, and which He only has the resource of vocation.
We must be frightened, for the problem is deeper. Closing public schools and depriving them of teachers have an explanation that shares the same root: neo-liberal education, as an activity, is doing very little to organize democratic life and much for ordering on the basis of the principles of «human Capital.» It treats us like machines that only decide the good or the bad in function of a supposed rationality of clients, where we should choose the «best offer» for our options, whether of school, of activity, of friends or of games. We stop feeling that education is an opportunity to cultivate knowledge, understanding of our humanity, its relationship with the environment and nature. Today we are faced with a system that seeks that any decision should be meticulously submitted such as those of investors in the trade exchange, that each decision implies a consequence on ourselves, and that our motivations should be oriented on the basis of Incentives and penalties. The system tells us: Do not choose this school because it will close, do not choose this profession because it is second class and will not make you happy. That is what this model of public policy in education points out.
The two scenarios previously mentioned-the closure of schools and teacher shortages-are a current reality and are projected even worse. This policy initiative is a scandal that in history will remain as the time when Chile ‘ decided ‘ to close its public schools and deprive the system of its teachers. How to reverse such madness? How can we reinstall the substantive discussion on pedagogy, on education and on its role in this society?
It is imperative that the forces of change motivate a debate in a more honest way, that we clearly express that the formulas that guided the recent reforms had mistakes that need to be reversed. We must understand that education and pedagogy do not work with the incentives that are invoked in any company or supermarket sale, nor can they be made behind the interests of the actors of the system: teachers, students, families. We need to think again about how education is a space of integral personal and social growth, a space for reflection on our place in society, a space for promoting and amplifying democracy. We cannot continue to reduce the educational problem to a subject such as the quality of the offer and its choice, whether from schools or teachers and their «services», or as a problem of adequate or inadequate incentives. It is not a question of «guiding a market», as the Brunner report of 2004 said, but it is a question of putting into perspective a historical project of reaffirmation of our autonomy by living in democracy, in a democracy other than the market and in which education has a role Articulator.
We can, as a country, go through the consequences of our quality «meters» and do something about it. Today, these meters act on two elements of the system in the same way: on the one hand they measure and categorize to close schools, on the other hand they measure and categorize to eliminate the interest by being a teacher or teacher. These meters never went through the filters of democracy, and today it is necessary to question them. It is necessary for the country to re-discuss whether we want to have an educational system organized in this way. Let’s discuss how and for whom we want education to be organized. Let’s discuss whether merit is a school organizing principle or a veiled form of maintaining class privileges. Let us talk about who should be held accountable in a democracy: whether to politics ordered by our democratic interests or to a market where we are clients of educational services. Let’s discuss again and change reform in the direction it always had to move forward: towards greater democracy and strengthening of public education.

The content poured in this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of the counter.

Original source in Spanish

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