Show Solidarity for Striking Teachers in Chile

Jun 9, 2015
7:20 AM

Tonight, I received an email from my friend Katherinne Balboa Oviedo, a Chilean educator currently living in Colorado. She wrote me asking to contribute to a project to show solidarity with Chilean teachers currently on strike. The conditions facing Chilean professors is horrendous, yet frighteningly comparable to those faced by adjunct professors in the United States. I have posted her letter to me in both English and Spanish, and will let her words speak for themselves:


Sabes, quisiera pedirte un favor. Antes te cuento algo para que entiendas el porqué de mi favor. En Chile la situación con los profesores es bastante complicada. Están en paro, exigiendo cambios en la nueva reforma de la educación. Por ejemplo. Un profesor trabaja 44 horas a las semana y en su mayoría el 90% es trabajo frente a aula, sin tener tiempo para realizar material, revisar pruebas y trabajos sin ocupar tiempo en casa. Cada sala es de 40 alumnos apróx ( en mi caso tuve hasta un curso de 46). El sueldo es bajísimo, en promedio un profesor gana mil dólares , y menos en su mayoría. Bueno, el tema es que me pidieron unos amigos profesores, si podía conseguir el testimonio de profesores de Estados Unidos para que nos cuenten su experiencia como docentes y si es posible enviar un mensaje de ánimo a todos los profesores chilenos. Si me puedes ayudar con esto, estaré muy agradecida. La idea es que te presentes y menciones tu profesión y cuentes un poco cómo es el trabajo de un profesor en tu área. Si sabes cuántas horas trabaja un profesor en sala y cuántas para planificar, y cuál es el promedio de su sueldo. También si sabes cuántos años estudia un profesor, sería genial. Este video es para mostrarlo en algunos colegios en Chile y compartirlo en las redes sociales. Puede estar en inglés. Eso sería bueno también. No es necesario que dure mucho, puede ser unos minutos. Eso ayudará bastante. Podrías ayudarme? Yo no conozco a muchos profesores y si sabes de alguien que también podría hacer el video desde su experiencia, sería un gran aporte.

I would like to ask you a favor. Before I do so, I want to explain the situation so that you understand why I am asking this of you. In Chile, the situation for professors is very complicated. They are on strike, demanding changes in the recently passed education reform. For example, a professor works 44 hours a week and most do 90% of that in the classroom, without any time to properly carry out assignments, review tests and tasks, or spend time at home. Each class has approximately 40 students (in my case I had 46).  The pay is minimal, on average a professor earns a thousand dollars, and most earn much less. Well, some teacher friends of mine have asked is I can get testimonies from the United States to talk about their experience as educators and, if possible, a message of encouragement to their counterparts in Chile. Do you know how many hours a professor in the U.S. works in class and how long it takes them to plan for classes, and what their average salary is? If they could state how long they have been teaching, that would be great. This video will be shown at some schools in Chile and shared on social media. It can be in English. It does not have to be very long, just a few minutes in length would be sufficient. Could you help me? I do not know many professors here and if you know of anyone who could make a video about their experience, it would be a great help.

I just started teaching as an adjunct this month, so my experience is minimal but I know enough to know that teachers, whether they be in the U.S. or in Chile or in Mexico, whose “education reform” has been a disaster, are mistreated and do not earn anywhere near as much as they deserve. Kathy and her husband Sebastian will be putting the videos together and will be applying subtitles to English language ones. Kathy has told me that she will send me a copy of the video when it is completed, which I will also share on this site. If you are interested in contributing, please email me at Let’s give our brothers and sisters in Chile the support they need to make a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities.


Jonathan Marcantoni is a Puerto Rican novelist and co-owner of Aignos Publishing. His books Traveler’s Rest and The Feast of San Sebastian deal with issues of identity and corruption in both the Puerto Rican diaspora and on the island. He is co-founder (with Chris Campanioni) of the YouNiversity Project, which mentors new writers. He holds a BA in Spanish Studies from the University of Tampa and a MH in Creative Writing from Tiffin University. He lives in Colorado Springs and can be reached at