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Another post about the Saskatchewan teachers’ strike.

May 25, 2011

Oxygentax has a great post today asking many of the questions that I’ve been considering.

Why do we feel that teachers need to be paid as much as they currently are? Why is it generally agreed that teachers are underpaid and that they DESERVE more?

You should definitely read the whole thing.

Last week a teacher explained to me that teachers were asking for a 12 month contract because they got locked into a three year contract and missed their chance to ask for more money when the province had higher than expected income.  He also explained that the nurses received a huge raise and teachers should get a similar increase because the province was receiving a lot of money from potash revenue.  Basically, the government “has more money and we want our share” (I’m paraphrasing).

So many, many questions.

Who created that increased wealth?

The province may have more money right now but what happens when revenue falls?  Will teachers take a pay cut?  Will any of the other unions?  The company my mother works for gives bonuses in good years rather than raises because raises lock in future obligations regardless of the future income of the business.    Perhaps merit bonuses could be instituted for teachers.

Why should the teachers expect the same increase as nurses?  Why should any union expect the same contract as any other union?  Each is unique.  I would argue that the nurses received too much.  Must we compound one mistake by repeating it?  That has already happened within the health region.

Last question:  Any bets on when the next strike days will occur?  I should give a prize to whomever who gets it right.  Not to a teacher though!  That would be cheating!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2011 5:00 pm

    Do a little research. Education is the insulation against the bad economic times; there are many countries that have embraced this new ‘global village’ reality. Shanghai, Singapore and South Korea have leapfrogged to the top of the international educational pile and their economies are soaring! Why do you think that Canada weathered the recession so much better than the U.S.?

    While we are doing well we need to invest in education so we can avoid the eventual bust that always happens to an energy based economy.

    I completely accept that people question what teachers are ‘worth’ raise wise, but I do encourage people to consider who they want as teachers in their society. I think most people would agree that we need every teacher to be a ‘great’ teacher; however if we devalue teachers how can we attract those people. Countries that pay teachers (starting wage) on par with other professionals with similar degrees are able to attract top quaility individuals into the teaching field. (Our provincial governments have allowed teacher salaries to fall behind similary qualified fields.) Noteably, South Korea is ackowledge as the best recruiter of teachers, but they pay (on average, when cost of living is calculated) their teachers about 250% what teachers in North America make.

    So, please, instead of asking what teachers deserve as a raise, ask what we need to pay teachers to attract the people we need to produce the best educational product that will establish us a among the best in the world so our economy can withstand the bust after the boom and our society can prosper in the new global economy.

    (Merit pay sounds like a solution, but again research will show that it has almost no impact on improving educational outcomes – I know it doesn’t make sense but a lot of places have tried it and the results are quite clear…)

    • Lenora permalink
      May 26, 2011 6:52 pm

      So how is paying teacher’s a higher wage going to make education any better? Wouldn’t the money that the teacher’s are asking for be better used to equip better resources for education? I can’t honestly see how if we pay a teacher a higher wage it will improve my child’s education. As far as I see it the only one that is benefitting is the teacher and the rest of us are to suffer with higher taxes, less teachers, higher student/teacher ratios and the closing of schools. Oh wait….it’s happening in Alberta right now!!!

  2. May 25, 2011 11:36 pm

    Actually BT, I don’t question what teachers are worth raise wise, I question what teachers are worth as an absolute. Sadly, because they are unionized with absolutely no incentive to improve their results, the natural for society as a whole is to paint with a wide brush and balk at paying the best ones a good wage because the lowest quality ones will also receive the same amount for no other reason than they exist and have warmed a chair for the same amount of time.

    As a friend of mine pointed out this evening on facebook, if teachers are paid less than what they are worth, why then are so many students willing to get into that “profession”?. This is the only true market mechanism that signals whether teachers are being appropriately in Saskatchewan, Canada. Michele’s anecdotal point about teachers asking for a one year contract because they missed out their opportunity to negotiate when the budget surplus was high is rather telling. I would point out though that when Potash revenues were in the tank, teachers still got their 3% raise.

    When it comes to reforms, merit pay should come into play, but there are more than just results to consider. Administrators have to be able to dislodge a teacher if it’s felt that they aren’t doing a good job. Parents know which teachers are performing well and which teachers are performing poorly, so ask the parents twice a year via survey. Teachers that score the lowest get called to the carpet. Get called to the carpet 2 surveys in a row, and the administrator may deny increases. Get called to the carpet a third time in a row and there may be grounds for dismissal. Of course, a union won’t go for this.

    As for your point about Southeast Asians paying much more for teachers, I question how many B.Ed. graduates actually go to SE Asia to teach after school, and whether that is a choice based around an adventurous spirit, a lack of jobs for graduates or the difference in pay that is the real factor in those choices. I would bet that in a majority of cases is isn’t the pay.

    • J Nonofyourbusinuss permalink
      May 26, 2011 7:55 pm

      Ya that will work you moron..Vote for who is good ,,can you say all kids get an A+. Man you guys would need a road map to find your own ass!
      And as for the market economy on teachers again morons you get what you pay for economics 101 . Look at Alberta highest paid and highest PISA score in Canada, coincidence I think not. Offer the best and attract and retain the best simple principle.
      As for the glut of teachers on the list to take others places..uh ever heard of HR departments that go through transcripts and qualifications before they hire…ya that glut that you refer to is just that… a glut.

    • May 26, 2011 10:50 pm

      So let’s see… your first sentence you call me a name and then present no alternative other than the status quo… and I’M the moron?

      I wouldn’t know what a PISA score is or where Alberta ranks, but I DO know that there are studies from California that support the point of view that level of teacher’s education and years of experience past the first few years have no measurable effect on the quality of education provided. I know that standardized tests can be gamed, but that there are ways to identify the teachers that are gaming the system for personal gain. I know that there are ways to measure performance in teachers, and that parents know and share who the good and bad teachers are. I also know that TEACHERS also know who the good and bad teachers are among them. There are ways to measure performance and there should be ways to replace bad performers with potentially good performers. The method I set out also gives a teacher a chance to shape up before they are shipped out.

  3. May 26, 2011 11:18 am

    Absolutely, Oxygentax. There is a glut of teachers on the waiting list trying to attain full-time positions. In a market economy, in which we purportedly reside, this means that their valuation ought to actually decrease.

    One of the ways to help alleviate this glut, incidentally, is to encourage more private schools. Competition in the educational field is long overdue. Not only could these schools compete for students, they could compete for the best teachers. The best teachers could then command a higher salary, and the weaker ones could be encouraged to find an alternative means of work. (Just because someone got an education degree and managed to find work doesn’t mean he should be teaching my kid.)

    Sounds crazy, right? Education is too important to leave in the hands of private enterprises, right?

    Well, food’s pretty important too, isn’t it? And yet people remain well-fed with a variety of products and various means of obtaining those products. I shop at Safeway usually, but sometimes I hit up Walmart, or Costco, or the Co-op, or Superstore. These are all competing for my food dollars, and if I don’t like one store, I can go to another.

    And Lordy be-geez, somehow I go to bed with a full belly at night.

    Why can’t we do that with the education system?

    It’s time for taxpayers to strike against the teachers’ monopoly and start getting some affordable education choice in this province.

    Parents, students and, yes, teachers will all be better off for it.

    And so will our “energy based economy”.

    • saskteacher permalink
      June 12, 2011 9:35 pm

      So children who’s parent’s can’t afford to send them to the best schools get the worst teachers? Research the American school system, and you’ll see why this does not work.

  4. Michele permalink*
    May 26, 2011 11:32 am

    Excellent point.

    One reason that the nurses’ received such a huge increase is that there was a shortage of nurses. They were paid more so that they would choose to stay here rather than move.

    There is no shortage of teachers.

    • Lenora permalink
      May 26, 2011 6:44 pm

      Very True!!!

    • saskteacher permalink
      June 12, 2011 9:43 pm

      I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. There is a shortage of “quality teachers”, which is probably why the one’s who stink don’t get hired and remain on the sub-list forever–or they end up in small rural areas where positions are difficult to fill The College of Education in both Saskatoon and Regina have been pumping out sub par teachers over the past 3-5 years. Intelligent, creative individuals are choosing other professions. I know for a fact the U of S has dropped their admissions average by at least 10% int he past 5 years. It used to be competitive to be accepted into teacher’s college, and now they are knocking at the doors of other colleges to accept their rejected students. The college keeps pumping out graduates, but their standards are so sub par. Paying more competitively will again attract the people who want to be teachers, but currently can’t afford to rather than people who wanted to be engineers etc but couldn’t make it. You get what you pay for. I have heard a lot of arguments on this message board about sub par teaching…you think its going to get any better if we don’t make the package look more enticing? soon you’ll be looking at whole schools filled with teachers who hate their jobs and don’t want to be there, but went into teaching because it was the last college who would accept them. Is this who we want teaching our kids?…it has already started happening.

    • Michele permalink*
      June 12, 2011 10:19 pm

      Interesting theory but not supported by what I’ve witnessed. Without naming names, some of the teachers that I’ve been most impressed with have been recent hires while some of the teachers that I would switch schools to avoid are quite experienced.

    • saskteacher permalink
      June 12, 2011 10:29 pm

      Fair enough.
      Also, I forgot to say in my earlier post…I don’t mean to discredit teachers who have graduated in the past 5 years. I am positive there are still many excellent teachers being graduated.

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