This morning, the 4th grade moms were summoned to a meeting with the school's director, to discuss the current teacher situation. Well, more like the LACK of a teacher.
Nick's 4th grade class has been without a teacher for almost a month. La maestra has been experiencing serious back problems that haven't allowed her to work. She is scheduled for surgery tomorrow. She was granted a leave of absence until June 6th. But it will probably be extended for another month or even longer.
Now, one would think, that in the teacher's absence, the school would provide the students with a substitute teacher. Not so! The children have been left to their own devices, with the director and school secretary checking in on them. Occasionally.
Last week, we all thought that the problem had finally been resolved when the school secretary took over the class. She gave the kids study guides and had them take their exams for the 4th bimestre. But on Friday we learned that it was only temporary.
Today, the director informed us that if we wanted the children to have a teacher for the 6 weeks that remain of the school year, we would have to find the teacher ourselves and pay him/her out of our pocket.
We all pointed out to the director that we thought it was the school's responsibility to provide a new teacher and pay her. But we were quickly informed that it was really none of their business.
Accepting the fact that we were going to have to pay, we asked if the school would be willing to split the costs. But the director was adamant and said that the school did not have that kind of money. Which we all find a little odd, because the school collects about 90,000 pesos a year from the cuotas voluntarias. And that money is matched peso for peso by a quality education program that the school has been involved in for the past 7 years.
Trying to work out some kind of solution, a few moms suggested that the moms take turns coming in to teach the class. That idea didn't fly well with some of the moms. They wanted a certified teacher.
Solution number two, was to see if the local government could help cover the costs of the new teacher. The director quickly dismissed that idea, because he was sure that the government would not be interested in helping. But one mom was very persistent and left in the middle of the meeting to see what the folks at City Hall had to say.
Seeing that the school wasn't going to be of help, we inquired as to how much we would actually have to pay the new teacher. Elementary school teachers work from 8:30am to 1:00pm and earn approximately 150 pesos per day. There are 35 students in Nick's class, so each parent would have to pay a little more than 130 pesos. Which isn't a lot of money. BUT...there are a couple of parents that just don't have that kind of money. So to compensate, we increased the amount to 150 pesos.
Meanwhile, one of the mom's called her sister, who just happens to be a teacher, to see if she would be willing (and available) to come teach the kiddies. Turns out, that she is available and can start tomorrow. GREAT!
At that moment, the persistent mom returned from City Hall. She was told, that the school would have to submit a request for monetary help, along with a copy of La Maestra's leave of absence and the signatures of all the moms. The request would then be submitted for approval at the budget meeting that was set for that same morning. She was also told to contact the Secretario de la Delegacion de Maestros (something like a union leader). The director then scoffed at that idea, saying that the Secretario had absolutely nothing to do with this matter.
Just as the director was once again trying to explain that this is solely the problem of the parents, someone knocked on the door. Guess who it was?
It was the Secretario de la Delegacion! He said, "I just received a phone call from La Presidencia (City Hall) requesting that I turn in the request along with the signatures this very moment."
We won't know anything until later this week.
But this is what really infuriates me...What if we hadn't expressed our concern to the director? Would he have allowed our children to finish the school year without a teacher? It's not the teachers or parents who are affected by this situation, it's the children. Who is going to care for them? Don't they deserve an education?