Teachers and students strike to protest education budget cuts
“The unemployment rate in the United States is 25%” one student reads. We are doing a class activity about America in which I have written various facts and figures on cards. The students must determine whether these are true or false. Of the 40 students who participate in this activity, 100% believe this to be true. “False.” I tell them, “Do you think it’s higher or lower?” The students’ answer is spilt down the middle. “Lower.” I say, “And what about Spain? What do you think the unemployment rate is here?” They laugh and roll their eyes as they look around to their fellow classmates. “Much higher”, “100%”, and “Too high” echoes in the room. I interrupt with what now seems like good news, “25% is the unemployment rate here in Spain,” I pause, “but for people under the age of 25 it’s over 50%.” They are not surprised. Unfortunately for students, those numbers are only expected to rise. The government has recently proposed huge cuts in education, which was the reason for yesterday's strike. The cuts would increase class sizes by 30-50%, cut critical educators from schools (as one student said, “our math teacher will also become our language teacher”) and reduce teachers’ salaries while increasing their hours (likely providing students with overworked, stressed out and resentful educators). How will these cuts refuel the economy and solve the crisis? The majority and teachers and students assert it won’t, as better, not worse, public education is the key to stimulating a country and an economy. As a sign read in a local protest yesterday “La educación no tiene precio, quien lo piense es todo un necio” (Education is priceless, he who thinks otherwise is a fool).
For more information about the countrywide strike that took place yesterday (May 22nd), go here.