“Only ten dollars per year”
The intentions of the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious affairs for the rationalization of teaching staff detachments abroad, due to the economic crisis in Greece, has caused concern for the future of Education in Greek in the USA. Feelings of concern and agony are being expressed mainly by schools currently running on a Greek curriculum which do not have enough teaching staff to fill the teaching hours of Greek Language, History and Culture courses. We do not know yet, if and how many educators will be recalled and from which schools but a decision has already been taken to refrain from new detachments of teaching staff abroad for the 2010-2011 period. This current development affects us all, as a community in a collective sense.
We forwarded our request to the Ministry of Education, so as to give us time in order to seek alternatives in our schools. However, only the Coordinators of Education have a collective overview of the existing needs. According to assumptions they made, it is estimated that the absence of detached educators who are being paid by the Greek state, taking into account that some of the schools which employ an average of three teachers, will lead to an extra 50.000 – 60.000 USD per year on their budget. Nevertheless, apart from the financial implications for schools, we are being faced with the issue regarding the lack of qualified educators which will become an even greater problem, as the majority of Greek teaching staff abroad is reaching retirement.
We as Greek immigrants, have always had the creation and maintenance of schools as our prime concern for the continuation of the Greek language and culture subsequently. In 1944, by Archbishop Athenagoras, the Philoptochos Society, launched a large financial campaign, instituted the “monodollarion” annual contribution, under the motto “only one dollar per year”, in order to raise the awareness of the Greek Diaspora and support the institutions of its Academy.
Today, we proudly claim to be a successful community/ethnicity, coming first on an educational level and second in finances. This issue however, brings us face to face with our responsibilities; responsibility for our contribution and especially financial contribution towards the preservation and dissemination of Education in Greek Language in the U.S., which is priceless.
Greece will pursue its valuable contribution to the most possible extend. However, we are the ones who must think ahead for the creation of academic programs leading to the graduation of certified bilingual educators and at the same time encourage our youth to attend these courses by providing scholarships. On a short term basis, we don’t have to provide financial assistance to the schools that need to retain or hire new qualified educators.
Let us prove that we respect the efforts of all those who created our schools and induced Greek curriculums in public schools and all levels of American Education. There are companies of Greek – American interests who are exempt from taxes for donations, which could take over the salaries of teaching staff on an annual basis. And subsequently all of us, according to our capabilities can collectively or individually contribute in this direction.
Let us learn from the example the pioneer members of the Greek Diaspora set and provide “ten dollars per year” (per family) as minimum contribution. Hundreds of Greek-American families, with their contribution of ten dollars annually, can raise half a million dollars in one day.
It is up to us to prove, firstly to ourselves and others subsequently that we are capable as an ethnicity to turn this financial crisis into an opportunity for the future of Education in Greek in the country we live.