Everything is missing in public school, and having to deal with all kinds of adversity, teachers face the neglect of the governments.
Interviews by Everyday Brasil
Text editing Nelson Bortolin
Photos by Gabi Di Bella
Working in São Paulo's public schools is a growing challenge as neoliberals and conservatives, with little concern for the quality of education, consolidate their power in the capital and in the state.
Lack of structure, lack of recognition, lack of guidance, lack of support professionals to help teachers deal with problems typical of young people, especially in communities where violence is part of everyday life.
And there are guessers on duty who don't know the reality of schools, who have never been in a classroom. The complaints are common to the teachers we talked to for this report.
The attack promoted by two former students at the Raul Brasil State School in Suzano (SP) on March 13 contributed to worsening the school environment. Ten employees, students and the two shooters were killed. The tragedy brought fear and a feeling of helplessness to the school community. Teachers have little hope for the future.
"The government's mentality is privatist, aiming at a minimum state and a freeze on spending on public equipment. It is a government that blames its employees for the budgetary crisis and misrepresents rights such as stability and social security, labeled as privileges," says Mariana Zanetic, an art teacher at the Municipal Schools of Fundamental Education (MSFE) called Solano Trindade and Conde Luiz Eduardo Matarazzo.
Adriana de Cássia Moreira, professor of Municipal School José Dias da Silveira, tells that the governments do not give importance to education in the individual's formation for a democratic society. She explains that, from 1989 on, Brazil started to invest in improvements in education based on "republican" and citizenship ideas. With the rise of President Jair Bolsonaro, this project was interrupted. The new government, says the teacher, does not have a program and put people totally unprepared in the Ministry of Education.
Filipe de Freitas, philosophy professor and coordinator of Fernão Dias Paes State School, says that the social role of the school in educating citizens is not recognized. "The governments do not value the disciplines that are the result of studies of thousands of years. This work is no longer recognized ”.
José Carlos Araujo, history professor at Escola Estadual Professor Mauro de Oliveira, highlights the marketeer characteristics of the government of João Dória. "Recently, we have been discussing the issue of the Common National Curriculum Base and how this will reflect in everyday school life. Meetings are held, as if they were public consultations. But in fact, there is already a closed proposal and this public consultation is only protocol. It seems to me like a spectacle to demonstrate to population that something is being done", he declares.
"The policy of the state government is to cut investments. It is not exactly a new thing. In São Paulo, it's been like this for 30 years," says Matheus Lima, a history teacher for youth and adult education at the State School of Republic of Peru. At the national level, he says, education has been aligned with the state level since the government of President Michel Temer (PSDB - (Party of Brazilian Social Democracy) . And it gets worse with Bolsonaro, who identifies in schools a place of leftist indoctrination. "In fact, what they intend is to prohibit ideas that are different from those they believe in and apply a reactionary, conservative doctrine. It is known as a school without a political party, but in fact it is a one-party school.
"Specifically about the politics of São Paulo, there are more than 20 years of PSDB and each time the numbers of education are worse. You see the precariousness of work in schools," says management agent Michel Dromed, of the Fernão Dias Paes State School. He says the school where he works is "privileged. There are even laboratories. "But they don't work. It seems that it is a government choice to make public schools precarious.
"I've experienced things a 30-year-old woman hasn't." The phrase, said by a primary school student, made teacher Adriana de Cássia Moreira stop to think about the fragility of public schools, especially in the city' s less assisted regions. "Everything happens in a school. You receive children with mental disorders and are not prepared to deal with it," she says. Professionals such as psychologists and educational psychologists are lacking to support the teachers.
"We educators are almost abandoned in our workplace with the most varied situations of students and with hardships not cared for José Carlos Araujo has the same feeling. "The teacher does not receive enough support and is getting sick. There are many teachers in the psychiatric ward of the Public Servant Hospital," he says.
The teacher does not receive help to treat adolescents who often manifest themselves through violence. "Young people are sometimes impenetrable caves. To understand them, we have to have our own dictionary in our hands".
Araujo argues for a multidisciplinary approach to identify what is on the minds of young people. "We know it's a very complicated phase, a transitional phase. They are not only full of hormones, but also of questions. It is a very propitious terrain to develop intolerance."
"Without social, psychological and psychiatric care, we will not walk well. He's a lot of a student with depression and a lot of bullying," says Michel Dromed.
In addition to not being able to count on support professionals, the teachers complain about having to put up with the predictors. "They are people who have not been in the classroom and feel supported to talk about public school. People who share news without reliable sources. That’s the pits," Araújo says.
For the Professor Filipe Freitas, everyone became an expert in education. "An economist sees the function of education for the job market, but the teacher who is in school every day cannot discuss the contribution of his work.
March 13 and the following days were of sadness all over the country. In schools, students, teachers and employees stopped to assimilate the Suzano attack. Michel Dromed says his school was in an "absurd tension. "The atmosphere was very heavy. I didn't sleep for a few days and lost three kilos. The day before the tragedy, he had caught a student with a white gun.
A colleague of Dromed's worked in Suzano and knew one of the victims. "We put ourselves in their shoes. There's no way, right? One of the employees who died had the same job I do. Possibly she went through the same obstacles that I went through, the same threats that I received".
Filipe Freitas says he works with colleagues who were transferred from Suzano and knew the victims. "I saw the sadness on their faces. For him, there is something wrong with the relationship between students and the school that needs to be studied. "They don't attack bakeries, no one has hatred of pharmacies."
Freitas tries to explain his feeling: "The feeling is that they have taken away our freedom, our youth. And we couldn't avoid this collective robbery.
José Carlos Araujo says that the Secretary of Education sent a kind of step-by-step on how to deal with the issue with the students. But the activities that ended up being carried out were those proposed by the young people. "They gathered in the courtyard, made poetry. Then, everyone went to the classroom with their teachers and a class was dedicated to a conversation circle. They spoke of the anguish they felt."
The teacher says he was tense in the first days after the attack. He imagined that there might be an epidemic of attacks such as Suzano's. He says that he was tense in the first days after the attack. "I was touched, touched by what had happened. It is part of my daily life, of my reality, of my school. It's a minority, but I can identify students with a profile practically identical to that of the boys who carried out the attacks".
In the school where teacher Mariana works, a dynamic of corporal expression was carried out on the day of the tragedy. "Several children mime by pointing firearms and falling flat on the ground," she says. "The reflection on tragedies that occurred mainly in school contexts should be permeated by a lot of awareness in this way of valuing life and human rights", he emphasizes.
Matheus Lima says he did not feel threatened by Suzano's tragedy. "I think this could happen in any other place I go, on a bus, on the street...".
He says that in the most peripheral schools, violence is "naturalized". So Suzano's tragedy was taken unsurprisingly. "It doesn't matter if it was inside a school. It's someone else who dies. Violence is part of everyday life in Brazil, especially in the peripheries.
The teacher says that, less than two months ago, a policewoman who was making the rounds at the end of her school says she heard a student call her in a perjorative manner. She would have gotten angry and entered to identify the young man. She called for reinforcement, threw pepper spray all over in everybody, on the students, teachers and employees. "There were many police vehicles in the school. Students went to the hospital with respiratory problems.
According to the teacher, the police officer was dismissed and is being prosecuted. The teachers are following the case. "Who caused disorder and violence in the school was a police officer. This attitude, in Matheus' opinion, is supported by the Republic's Presidency. "If there is a president who teaches us how to point a gun...".
When he started his career in 2010, Filipe Freitas says there was already a bad outlook for teachers. "The Union said that, from 2015, we would have serious problems because the activity of teacher would cease to be a profession. It would become a temporary job for professionals who are still graduating in other areas.
For him, this is the reality today. "He had a private university that advertised calling for people to take a short-term degree and give classes to obtain extra income.
According to the professor, the future of education depends on the people who work in the area " recognizing themselves capable of solving the problems they face in their daily lives". "The education that I want is the one with students, teachers and school staff as protagonists.
Professor Matheus Lima says that education is not detached from society. "The public school will change if society changes. If Brazil continues in a political perspective with governors like Doria and presidents like Bolsonaro, the future of education is bleak.
While the country's focus is on the elites and the financial system, both education and other public services tend to be worse. That's what Professor Mariana says. "Education will only advance in qualitative terms with governments committed to citizenship, committed to their people.
When asked about the future, Araujo says he prefers not to have hope. "We live in a post-truth era. People no longer seek to know about the facts. It doesn't matter if the source is doubtful. They just want to receive information that meets what they think. I don't expect to change people's minds. If I can get them to develop critical thinking, it will be profit."
He believes that the tendency is to have a lot of privatization in the area. "Everything will be focused on the economic issue. More and more the student will have to graduate quickly because it is a cost to the government. So education tends to become fast food.
Michel Dromed doesn't see good prospects either. "I don't see any light, I don't see public policies aimed at improving basic education. I think we are going backwards.