Reacting to criticism that little attention is being given to public school teachers unaccounted for since the Maute group laid siege to Marawi City on May 23 (News, “Public teachers not underpaid, says Briones,” 6/21/17), Secretary Leonor Briones of the Department of Education did not face the issue head-on. Instead, she digressed and went on to brag about the benefits that public school teachers derive from the DepEd: “a monthly salary of P19,000-P43,000 (depending on their level), apart from the allowances, as well as performance, midyear and yearend bonuses; they also enjoy a two-month paid leave during summer vacation.”
She forgot to mention the shorter working hours and the many out-of-town “seminars” and all-expense-paid junkets (trips taken by government officials at public expense, ostensibly for the purpose of obtaining information).
Of course, Briones’ answer did not address the question of what happened to the missing teachers, for whose safety and wellbeing
she should be concerned. Her answer was totally out of line. While bragging about the sundry perquisites and emoluments given to public school teachers, she forgot to consider these points:
Despite the high salaries they are getting, public school teachers are still demanding to be paid P30,000 or more, just for the basic pay of a Level 1 teacher. If we allow that, we might as well increase the salaries of all other government workers and employees such as doctors, nurses, firemen, street sweepers, soldiers and policemen.
By broadcasting and emphasizing the benefits, even to the point of bragging that “the challenge facing the DepEd now is the continuing migration of private school teachers to the public school system,” Briones did not seem to realize that she was, in effect, inviting, inducing and recruiting more private school teachers to follow the trend. Did she not realize what further damage her thinly veiled invite would do to the many private schools reduced by the prevailing system to being mere trainers and tutors of new graduates of teacher education institutions, all of whom are itching to transfer to the public schools as soon as they’ve been made fit and ready by the private schools they will soon abandon? Why don’t we just close and abolish all the private schools?
Did Briones not realize that she is also the head of all private schools and that she is also responsible for their viability and continued existence? How can private schools, which depend solely on the tuition of their students for their operational expenses, compete with public schools which have unlimited access to government funds and resources?
What are the legal and ethical bases for giving public school teachers allowances, bonuses and other perks? Aren’t they already being handsomely paid for service rendered? Why reward them for doing work which they are supposed to do in the first place and for which they were paid? By pampering them so much, are we not also simultaneously corrupting their values and morals? Because it corrodes and corrupts the entire educational system, the practice of giving performance bonuses and other allowances to public school teachers should be outlawed.
May we ask Briones: Are public school teachers teaching as they should, as well as they should? Have you evaluated the products, output and result of the DepEd’s inordinate pampering?
By: ANTONIO CALIPJO GO,
Academic Supervisor, Marian School of Quezon City,
Inquirer.net Opinion Section
Published: July 11, 2017