Tuesday, March 11, 2008

University teachers vote with their feet

It is no secret that Bulgarian teachers, including university teachers, are scandalously underpaid. I've mentioned this fact before. In my Sept. 15, 2007 post, I wrote, "Although our educational system is in decline and people are right to criticize it, it still works amazingly well, taking into account how little resources and attention it receives from society. It is a working perpetuum mobile. How long will it endure? When I began my work as assistant in 1994, I had to compete with five people. Now, when we have vacant positions, the candidates coming are usually as many as the positions. Sometimes the interview fails because the candidate doesn't show the qualification required by law for the position of university assistant. It is a sure sign that a job is underpaid when the only people willing to do it are not really qualified for it."
In a later post dated Oct. 11, 2007 and devoted to the teachers' strike, I wrote, "Teachers receive outrageously little support by Bulgarian society. A legion of people, including university graduates, suddenly began to care about the aborted reforms in Bulgarian education, saying that there are many teachers who should be fired, that bad teachers shouldn't receive the same pay increase as good ones (though nobody finds it wrong that good teachers now receive the same fixed low wages as bad ones), that teachers are guilty for the absence of reforms, that those teachers who think they are underpaid should leave rather than protest and if they don't leave, it is because they cannot find other jobs, which proves that they are incompetent and don't deserve even their current wages!"
Unfortunately, Bulgarian authorities at each level and the entire Bulgarian society continue to think that people will devote themselves to teaching, no matter what is done to discourage them. Eh well, not quite. Bulgaria seems to be running short of educated fools ready to do highly qualified work for no money. The two assistants who were appointed last at our Department are leaving. This is what people call "voting with one's feet".
So, to those who advise teachers to leave if they find their salaries too low - there are people following your advice. So what? Does this fix a single thing in the education system?

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