Public (state) school teachers' salaries in BA

sergio

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There's a good deal in the papers about state school teachers striking. Just to put things in perspective, you need to understand that a state school teacher here works just four hours a day - morning or afternoon shift (children get 1/2 day of instruction). As I understand it, there is a sort of short tertiary teacher training program thus a university degree is not required. Teachers get paid thirteen months a year (there is a special "aguinaldo" payment twice a year - 1/2 month paid twice a year) + paid summer vacations and national holidays. Starting pay as of last month for a teacher with NO experience is $1,550 and will go to $1,605 in July. This does not include the previously mentioned extra month's pay. Most teachers are women who have working husbands; many teach in two schools. Maybe I am missing something, but it seems strange that they are protesting so much. I am sure there are plenty of Argentines and even expats who would like to work with this pay and benefits - and I forgot to mention that they also get private health insurance. Salary figures come from BA HERALD March 28, page 2.
 

Davidglen77

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Sergio, the pay is very low, and keep in mind, that is gross salary and calculate about 10-15% in deductions. Then after working those 4 hours a day in the classroom, with very limited supplies, few books (students have to buy their own books for each class, they are not provided by the state, and most don't/can't afford them) the teachers have to correct all of those papers for each class on their own time at home, deal with all of the discipline problems, no heat in most schools, etc. The pay is NOT good, howeverI doubt the government in the provincia of Buenos Aires can pay much more. It's a question of what you want out of your career when you choose to become a teacher here, because a good salary is just not one of those things that you are going to get in this profession. Plain ad simple.
 

sergio

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David, I believe these are NET salaries. In Argentina everyone speaks in terms of monthly NET salaries. I can check, however, with a friend who is director of a state school. You must look at the salaries in LOCAL terms, not foreign terms. Not many people in Argentina receive monthly pay of $1,600 pesos thirteen month a year with full benefits and several months holiday for four hours of work. As for discipline, I have heard mostly very positive comments on this website about the Argentine people, so I would be surprised if the kids behave as badly as they do in the inner cities of New York, Washington, London, Manchester, etc.

Central heat is not that necessary in Buenos Aires however it is not true that all schools are without heating. As for correcting, there is much less written homework here than in the US and UK. Even in private schools children do little research work and are marked primarily by the results of examinations which seldom ever require essays, just objective tests.

Of course the pay is not great but most jobs here, even professional ones, pay very little by the standards of the US, UK etc.
 

Davidglen77

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Regarding NET salaries, I worked at a company here and when we discussed salaries they were always quoted in GROSS (Bruto) terms and not NET. Regarding central heat, I didn't mention central heat and central heat is very uncommon here as you know if you live here. Nor did I say ALL schools I said most. 99% of homes and offices have some heat source, whether it be electric radiators, split, estufas, tiro balanceado, etc. Very few schools have any heat sources that work. The behavior and discipline problems in the schools are worse and worse all the time, just read the news or talk to the people that I know who are teachers. There is a regular amount of homework given and all teachers have to correct papers, grade tests, etc. I am not making any of this up......I know many teachers that spend a good part of their evenings and weeknds working at home between the student's work and lesson plans. The pay is very low for a job that requires a college degree and specialization. Just think, the minimum wage for an empleado de comerico is $1,500 pesos per month compare that with what teachers are being paid and you will see what I mean.
 

sergio

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David, I called my friend who is director of a school in the province. He agreed that the salaries cited by the Herald are GROSS, so I was wrong on that.

He explained that teacher qualifications are based on graduating from a teacher training school, something like the old normal school system in the US. It’s not a university degree but it takes four years.

Summer vacation begins January 1 and lasts until around February 25 with two weeks in winter + national holidays.

As for your comment that the teachers do a lot of preparation and correcting of papers, he said that it simply is not true in his experience. He agreed that teachers rely on objective tests and seldom assign essays or research papers.

He supported your argument that discipline is poor and pointed out that there have been some killings. I thought discipline was better, so I was apparently wrong about that too. He told me that a pupil had actually put a gun to his head (his school is located in a fairly good area, by the way)

He said that he could not speak for all schools but that his has space heaters. It once had central heating but the system broke down and was never repaired.

My point was that the salaries are not so bad for a 4 hour day with exceptionally long holidays and extensive benefits. Of course I was speaking in local terms.
 

Davidglen77

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Even if it were true about teachers only having to work 4 hours at school and none at home (which I know for a fact is NOT the case) if you do the math and divide pay by the hour, they are making a grand total of about $25 pesos per hour. That is for a professional who is taking care of a bunch of schoolchildren and shaping the country's future. I think it's less than adequate, however I don't think that there is any additional money in the budget to pay them more. Most public school buildings here are truly falling apart and there is no way this goverment is going to be able to fix all of them adequately.
 

sergio

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David I totally agree that teachers deserve more money. Almost everyone (except politicians) are underpaid in Argentina. My school principal friend corrected me by pointing out that the school day is 4 1/2 hours and not 4 however there are breaks. School here is not a full day and many teachers work in TWO schools, earning TWO salaries so that they can make a decent living. How much time a teacher spends at home obviously depends on the teacher however if you are working in two schools you won't have much time for correcting papers. Anyway, the system here is not focused on essay tests and research work. Even on the university level objective exams are the main way of assessing students. These facts were a shock to me when I discovered them after coming here but they're true. In Argentina teaching is a pretty low status occupation (the exception is teaching part time at UBA and a few private universities - almost always part time work done by professionals who make their money at other jobs). Elementary and secondary teachers do not hold university degrees. They are licensed by teacher training schools most of which are not very good (there are a couple of notable exceptions in Buenos Aires). Some years ago the state schools here were excellent - highly respected in Latin America and staffed by well trained and cultured teachers. Due to lack of government funding and interest they have deteriorated badly. UBA, despite its many problems, retains quite a bit of its status largely due to professionals who work part time and earn practically nothing. They teach because it's good for their CV and/or because they like teaching - but just a few hours a week since they have to work at decent paying jobs to survive. Anyway, the state school salaries I stated were minimum salaries for starting teachers. Obviously someone with 10 or 20 years experience would get a lot more for a half day job. Based on what you said, this compares favorably with a lot of full day administrative jobs. Unlike the US or some other countries where state school teachers must have a BA or even an MA (some have doctorates) teachers in the state schools here do not have educations comparable to those of corporate executives. Don’t misunderstand me, I too think the salaries are poor but most people earn poor salaries and most earn a lot less than the teachers without the long holidays and all benefits.
 

syngirl

Registered
Davidglen77 said:
if you do the math and divide pay by the hour, they are making a grand total of about $25 pesos per hour. That is for a professional who is taking care of a bunch of schoolchildren and shaping the country's future. I think it's less than adequate, however I don't think that there is any additional money in the budget to pay them more. Most public school buildings here are truly falling apart and there is no way this goverment is going to be able to fix all of them adequately.
The public school system here is absurd and sad. In many areas, the students are simply being sent to school because the State guarantees that it will feed your child 2x a day while it is in school. The children in many areas go to school hungry, get fed a crappy breakfast of sugar, then sit in the cold for hours -- and they don't have heat, and we had a lot of days last winter where it was 2 degrees / 4 degrees etc in the mornings.

How are teachers even supposed to have a fighting chance of affecting anyone. The students cannot be expected to concentrate when they are freezing and hungry.

The teachers however, are also a bunch of a$%holes now because who are they punishing with their paros? The students, and also often the parents of these students, who now have to try and figure out who will look after their children while they go to work.

The schools in the provinces are even worse than in Capital. The salaries for the teachers are low, but if the education system has a hope of improving they first need to invest money in the school lunches programmes, then in the buildings, then in the books and teachers. Education is the key to a better life, but if you're freezing and hungry you're never going to be able to learn anything anyway -- even the government knows this, they've been running all those adds talking about the importance of giving your child adequate nutrition so that they develop cognitively... without basic needs provided for, you don't have a chance of providing an education.

Anyway, I'm so sick of paros here. Taxistas, campo, docentes. In North America strikes are the last action, here they are the first. In North America they try to get the people on their side first, here they don't care if they f*&k over the people, they don't care if they have their support, it's all very bullheaded selfish action without any interest in gaining the popular support.
 

bigbadwolf

Registered
sergio said:
In Argentina teaching is a pretty low status occupation (the exception is teaching part time at UBA and a few private universities - almost always part time work done by professionals who make their money at other jobs). Elementary and secondary teachers do not hold university degrees. They are licensed by teacher training schools most of which are not very good (there are a couple of notable exceptions in Buenos Aires).
School teaching is a low-status and (comparatively) low-paid "profession" everywhere. As for teacher-training schools, the US degree in education has long been the laughingstock of American academia, and the schools the intellectual slums of American universities. Everyone pays lip-service to needing better state schools and better teachers but most schools everywhere are just huge holding pens.
 

sergio

Registered
Wolf, I'd have to agree with you about teacher training schools in the US. The problem is that the teachers' unions have great political power and insist on maintaining an antiquated teacher certification system. A few states such as New Jersey have liberalized it a bit but in general gifted college graduates, even from the best universities, are locked out of public school teaching if they have not completed mostly idiotic pedagogy courses. Private schools - usually far better than public schools - are not obligated to adhere to this system and can hire whom they please so you'll often find talented teachers with prestigious degrees teaching in top private schools but without teacher certification. It's a racket for public school teachers. In Argentina there is another problem: the best private schools hire teachers who are graduates of the teacher training schools rather than universities. The exceptions are foreign teachers, mostly British, who are hired by a handful of private schools in Buenos Aires. You are wrong that teaching is a low status "profession" everywhere. In Japan it is very highly respected. Maybe that's the only exception. I'm not sure. Public school teaching is NOT low paid in many school districts of the East Coast US. I know of suburban school districts in major metropolitan areas where salaries reach $100,000. I have a friend who earns a little over that amount.
 
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