Analysis. The Italian Budget Law did not provide the funding requested by the Minister of Education, who fulfilled his promise to resign. Teachers will not receive a three-figure salary increase that had been under discussion for months.

As minister resigns, Italian schools get few funds and little change

“Three billion for schools, or I’m leaving,” was the promise that Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti kept making for months. On Wednesday, he kept his word and resigned, after the just-approved 2020 budget failed to provide the amount he had requested. 

Looking at the bottom line of what has been achieved during his tenure, there’s little to be happy about. There’s been a lot of talk about salary increases, for example—but words are one thing, and the reality is quite another. For the school sector in particular, improvements were few and disappointing: very scarce resources and, most strikingly, no trace of the three-figure salary increase for teachers that had been talked about for the past eight months. Instead, the salary increase will add up to no more than around €80, more or less in line with the increase decided the last time around.

One new initiative will be the roundtable organized by the office of the Prime Minister, where the teachers’ representatives will be called to indicate the resources needed for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement, and which will take into account “all available resources.” 

What does this mean exactly? It probably refers to the funding for the so-called “Teacher’s Charter”: the €500 bonus paid annually for the training and further education of teachers in state schools. Some unions like this idea, but the teachers themselves do not. However, it has already been decided as part of the Budget Law that the merit bonus will become part of the overall budget for schools, and the negotiations with the teachers’ unions will determine how it will actually be used. In short, it’s business as usual: all sizzle, no steak.

What about the now-former Education Minister, Fioramonti? His impending resignation had already seemed certain in the previous days, after the budget law was approved. Talks with the trade unions and an appeal from his party, the M5S, did not change the minister’s mind. 

Before communicating his decision to leave, he posted some long-awaited good news on Christmas day: “With the formal hiring of the new director general of the Regional Schooling Office for Sicily, Stefano Straniti, we will finally be able to find a comprehensive and commonly agreed solution for the case of the teacher Rosa Maria Dell’Aria.” The teacher from Palermo has been suspended since May after she failed to censor a presentation by her students comparing Matteo Salvini’s Security Decree with fascist-era laws.

He added: “My personal wish is that we can put an end to this very unpleasant case as soon as possible. The schools must be a place of dialogue and growth in intellectual and cultural exchanges. Always.” This wish is, indeed, one shared by all Italian teachers. However, if Fioramonti had chosen to resign when the PD and the Confindustria forced him to accept the continuation of the system of mandatory unpaid internships for college students and the INVALSI national standardized tests, that’s when he would have truly been a hero. 

The question remains, who will be the new Minister of Education? The only name that has been circulating in recent weeks is that of Nicola Morra, the president of the Parliament’s Anti-mafia Commission.

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