Teachers, it is difficult to demand more commitment when salaries are below the EU average

by Mario Pomini

Sometimes the long-standing issue of the modest salary of teachers in Italy and their almost non-existent economic progress comes to the fore. Certainly those who choose a career as a teacher do not do so for economic reasons and not just in Italy. The data of Education in sight 2020 we are told that, on average, a European teacher receives an income equal to 94% of the income of a diploma from the same country. In Italy the percentage falls to 77%. Therefore, the choice to go to class for a diploma from an economic point of view is certainly not convenient. The situation is different for the school manager, here the situation is reversed. A principal in Europe earns about 46% more than the average graduate, including in Italy 88% more. So the Italian principals can complain about many things, but not about their pay.

Two education ministers, first Lorenzo Fioramonti and now Patrizio Bianchi, have moved to bridge that pay of teachers compared to other professions with different approaches and different happiness. Both are economists and this allows us a unique comparison. The minister of the 5 stars of the Conte II government had asked his government team a contribution of about two billion euros to address the issue. Money provided to significantly increase teachers’ salaries. Given the large number of teachers, a salary increase of around two thousand-three thousand euros per capita per year could be estimated. Not a big deal though significant economic recognition and especially social.

In this case, the minister threatened to resign, which was accepted because the government had decided not to satisfy his demands. There is no money, it was said. Pity that two years later the Draghi government found out six billion euros, still debt, to reduce taxes on medium to high taxpayers, with a tax reduction of around 100 euros a month. So it was not a question of resources, but of strategic choices.

Now another Minister of Education and Economist, Patrizio Bianchi, has intervened in this matter, benefiting from the legislative train of the PNRR. The recent law of 30 April, which reformed access to the teaching profession, also addressed the issue of teachers’ careers. This time, we are not talking directly about money: the text, very complex at this point, provides for teachers doing three-year training courses. can anticipate salary increases. But not all, only 40%, and not immediately, but from 2026.

Minister Bianchi fully embraced Confindustria’s dissertation, which always wanted to increase loan increases in schools as well as to increase productivity, ie to additional teacher activities. Reasonable idea in private sector but not applicable for school where productivity measurement it is very problematic, to put it mildly. It is not surprising that this tarot liberalism of the Pd minister, much more work for a few euros in a few years, found direct and total opposition from the teachers first and from the unions later. A general observation remains.

Is there a school policy of the progressive front on this issue? Apparently not. Fioramonti’s extremely bold but necessary ideas to bring teachers and knowledge back to the center of political strategy were not supported. nor by his party who would rather give MP Fraccaro breath in the insane (economically speaking) construction bonus of 110%. To make matters worse, the Democratic Party, which aligned itself with Confindustria’s theses, without, however, putting the necessary resources on the plate to reward the increased productivity of teachers. It is not surprising, then, that traditional progressive schoolchildren turn their backs and turn elsewhere.

At least at this point, the conservative front is coherent: from the middle-right school almost nothing important and plays the usual card of electoral populism by promising to stop on Legis to all precarious. Meanwhile, the knots of our school system remain guiltily unresolved. True, the teacher does not look much at his economic career, but in fact Confindustria is right, which links productivity to wages, even if that has to be read differently. It’s hard to expect a greater commitment from Italian teachers when their salaries, compared to the income of a graduate, they are at the bottom of the European rankingsHowever, teachers are also responsible for refusing to approve Minister Luigi Berlinguer’s competition in 2000, which, despite its limitations, would have been the turning point for her pay career. It’s probably from then on that we start again, perhaps with the necessary adjustments.

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