Doesn't anyone care about the children?

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?

25 comments:

  1. There is something amiss with the director's behavior. Why would he insist that no government help was available when clearly there was? And it took no more than a trip to city hall! Was he just too lazy to ask himself? Can't help but feel that he is brushing something under the carpet.

    Good for that persistent woman! Folks in general here accept their plight too readily.

    Best of luck w/solving the problem and advocating for the education of the kids! Unbelievable that so much time has already passed with no replacement teacher.

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  2. There was a similar situation here with my landlords grandson and I have a question that maybe you can answer, if you don't mind.
    1. When the teacher is out on leave are they paid their regular salary? (I have my doubts about this; but don't know) is that why they can't afford to hire another teacher??
    My landlords grandson is at the level in public school where they are beginning to get a class in English. His teacher was away on maternity leave and he was without a teacher and no one seemed to care or think that it was odd. Then they got one for a bit and then he was gone and they had no one again. Not sure if she is back again or not as I haven't asked him lately.
    Also, how many days a year are kids supposed to go to school here? They seem to be on vacation more than they are in school.
    Good luck with the fight for a good education for your children, it is so good that you didn't take the director at his word and just leave it be.

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  3. I'm not at all surprised. I was briefly a substitute teacher in a private elementary school down here and then briefly a preschool teacher at another school. While a sub, I found out (AFTER I had taught for two days) that the school wouldn't pay me. It was up to the absent teacher (someone I'd never met) to arrange with me how much HE would give me for filling in, even though it was the school's director who had "hired" me. At the second school a teacher went on leave, and nobody told me, even though she was in charge of half my class twice a week. I sent my kids to her classroom only to discover later that no one was there. When I confronted the director about it, she told me I would have to find the replacement myself.

    So, although I'm not at all surprised, I do think it's terrible. Good for all of you to work together to find a solution! Kudos to the mom who went to city hall. I'm glad to hear things are looking good. Keep us updated.

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  4. Our inlaws little boy hasnt been to school in over a week because the teacher is out for whatever reason! WOW...the kids just dont have to go to school...because there is no teacher! This amazes me! Wonder what they do in a private school? Makes me really think twice about sending my son to school here in Mexico. We are facing this choice as he is 5 and in the US should Kindergarten in the fall. Homeschool? Private? Dont want to go with public...not here in Reynosa!

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  5. Sunshine, the best thing I ever did for my youngest 3 children was home school them. They had a very solid foundation in the basics (reading and math), so when they wanted to try public school they excelled. And if you home school for the entire 13 years, colleges will be knocking at you door because your child knows how to handle the work load. Judy

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  6. Wow this is kinda scary, although I do like the homeschool idea, Issac and I have discussed since kids are really only in school half day here we plan to also homeschool them aside from the public system here, plus this will help us keep up with American history lit and English. Good luck with this Leslie, I cant believe how uncaring this guy was.

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  7. Amazing. Education really is Mexico's biggest issue.

    I agree with Amanda, Mexican schools for social experiences and language and whatever else they can get out of it and supplemental home schooling for a well rounded education.

    Suerte!

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  8. That is outrageous! I can't believe there is no one to supervise those kids! I'm always surprised at how little qualification it takes to become a caregiver for kids. Keep us posted.

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  9. Holy Crap! I can't believe that no one was even there!!! I can't even possibly fathom the notion that it was the TEACHER'S responsibility to find a replacement! I'm gonna start paying more attention to my kids' class... i'm always hearing about random substitutes!!! How infuriating!!!

    Stay strong and keep to your cause!

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  10. Oh so familiar a story! We too have a child in a Mexican village, La Manzanilla, and we are shocked, even after 2 years, at the amount of time they are out of school. And that it usually ends up that on wednesday we get notice that they will be out on Thursday. We went without a director for the first part of the year. We've decided next year to start a home school program in the afternoon for our child.

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  11. LEAH: We all thought the same thing about the directors attitude. The man clearly has something to hide, because he did not want us to bring in the SEP (Secretaria de Educacion Publica) or the government.

    BRENDA: To answer your questions 1) The regular teacher still gets paid, even if they don't go to work. But this is not the reason that the school does not have money to pay a new teacher. Teachers are paid by the SEP, not the schools. When it comes to teachers on maternity leave, the SEP does provide the school with a substitute. 2) Kids go to school from Mid-August until the first week of July. The amount of holidays is astonishing to me. BUT, I am amazed at how much the teachers are able to accomplish in the few hours of school each day.

    VADOSE: Well now I don't feel so bad knowing that this kind of thing is happening elsewhere too!

    SUNSHINE: Funny that you mentioned private schools. One of the moms is a teacher at the private school, and said the school provides substitute teachers for whenever a teacher is absent. But the director quickly pointed out that, "Of course they can! They have the parents' money!" Being that you're on the border, I'd just homeschool! :)

    JUDY: I am in awe of any parent who homeschools! Kudos to you! :)

    AMANDA: If homeschooling were allowed in Mexico, I would be the first in line. But just as you're thinking of doing, I give them additional school work in the afternoons AND all summer long! :) You will soon learn that Kindergarten in Mexico is more of a daycare than a school.

    MT: So true!

    JAMIE: Outrageous, indeed!

    REFRIED DREAMER: I think that the teacher having to pay for her replacement is just ridiculous!

    VISITLAMANZANILLA: I'm still in shock over the entire situation. And I think that your plan to start a an afternoon home school program is excellent.

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  12. Holy crap! 4t graders...alone? That Director is shady. Granted I don't know much about the education system in Mexico but wow. just wow!

    I will try hard not to complain about my school district and what we should be getting (more hours of therapy etc). They are actually doing an amazing job with my son's special needs and all.

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  13. Thanks for the answer Leslie. Not sure what was going on here with that teacher. To be honest I think it was decided that as it was the English class it wasn't that important, so they didn't worry about it.
    I certainly hope your situation gets resolved and quickly for the kids sakes.

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  14. People complain about the education system in the US and they really don't know how good they have it. As a former teacher I wish people did!

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  15. That's amazing. I have never heard of such foolishness. I'm from Pennsylvania, and here every child is entitled to a free education which is paid by our taxes.
    It looks like things are going to work out, but I can't help but wonder how that director got his job. His interest is obviously money; not children. Maybe he should think about a leave of absence.

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  16. Wow. Truly amazing. It sort of makes me appreciate our seemingly flawed education program in the states a bit more. I can't believe that some of the moms would have rather had NO teacher than let the moms take turns. Hopefully at some level some one is looking into the director. Good Luck!
    Stopping by from SITS!

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  17. I really have no idea how school works down in Mexico, but if you guys can't come to a resolution, is there no way they can send the work home so that the parents could try to help their children- since nobody obviously is? This is so unfair. Hope all goes well, Leslie!

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  18. this is infuriating! is this the public school system? and why is it that i have this impression that el director is hiding something?

    hope everything works out :)

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  19. I actually would.. walk up to that director, look him right in the eye, and say:

    "Though by your appearance it seems you never look at yourself in the mirror, if you did just once, you'd see exactly WHY it's so important for us parents that our kids actually DO get an education... YOU were once my kids' age, and YOU were once the future of Mexico, and voilá! - here we all are!! The only pat on the back you deserve is one that puts you right on it, next to that dingbat teacher that God willing, we'll never have to look at again."

    Unfortunately, because he also did not receive an education, he's not going to have the attention span necessary to get all that... it's a lot for a less than average dope to absorb.

    Perhaps he'd kindly offer to buy me a delicious elote from the stand across the street, which I must admit, would leave me speechless....

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  20. that is so messed up! The director should be booted out on his ass and a new person should be hired who will actually CARE about the students!

    Visiting form SITS

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  21. Awful! We need a 'dislike' button for this. I am so sorry you are having to deal with this!

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  22. Wow. WOW. I think the school needs a new director. That's just unheard of.

    Very cool that the Secretario showed up in the middle of the meeting! :) Good luck.

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  23. Over here in the Xico area when a teacher is ill the class doesn't happen - there is no such thing as a substitute. Long term absence no se!

    We home schooled our kid all the way - never had a problem with a missing teacher ;-)

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  24. I cant believe that is the case and you know what some of the mothers teaching is better then NO teacher. Jeeze.

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  25. I recommend the private school system in Mexico because the public one is so riddled with stupidity, incompetence, politics, favoritism, mediocrity, misplaced national pride... shall I go on?

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