I owe you. All of you.

You want to know what teachers make?

If you haven’t heard yet, teachers in SK are looking at job action because their union’s negotiations are not going well. Teachers in the province have been without a contract for a shameful amount of time, and while the action on Thursday is not specifically a strike (it is a rally and study day), people in Saskatchewan are acting like…well, they’re acting like jerks.

I don’t want to engage in a discussion about the worth of unions, because I suspect once we do, we’ll just have to agree that we don’t see eye-to-eye on the issue. But I do want to talk about what’s happening. What’s important here is this:

“The goal of the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee is to return to the bargaining table to negotiate an agreement that affirms the worth of teachers, not to take sanctions,” said Gwen Dueck, chief spokesperson for the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee.

And the important bit in there is the clause an agreement that affirms the worth of teachers. So let’s look at that. I’d like to look at it in a couple of ways. And before I do, I’d like to point out that a teacher at the beginning of their career (right out of University, with a four year degree) can probably expect to make around $45,000 a year. Teachers can make as much as $75,000 a year, with at least a decade of experience. Those aren’t particularly impressive salaries for professionals, but let’s just leave that aside for a moment.

  1. You don’t pay teachers directly to educate your children. We all of us in the province contribute, through our taxes, to educate your children. You’re more than welcome to choose to send your children to private school and pay out of pocket for the privilege. I have no idea how you can get out of paying the school portion of your property taxes, though. I guess you could just quit paying them.
  2. Teachers are not childminders. If you want a childminder, send your children to a babysitter instead of sending them to school. They won’t get an education, but you won’t have to deal with having to know your child’s school schedule, either. You’ll be able to go to work every day.
  3. As an alternative to #1 and #2, you can home-school your children. There are plenty of resources available for home-schoolers. Just remember that there’s a *reason* schools have extracurricular activities for students – as a home-schooler, you should make sure your children have ample opportunity to participate in team sports, arts and cultural activities, and other activities with their peers. Socialising is important.
  4. Teachers work more than 8 hours a day. They are usually at school before 8am and they usually leave school after 4pm. And that’s assuming they are not on any committees, are not involved in intramurals or in extracurricular activities, or are not on supervision duty. That also assumes they do not stay late or come early to help students who need some extra study time. That also assumes they do not participate in away-from-school trips for sports, band, or academic fairs/competitions. I challenge you to find a teacher who does not do at least one of the above.
  5. Teachers do not “get the summers off”. They do not get paid for the summer break. If you’d like to take two months off without pay, go right ahead. Many teachers will have their salaries pro-rated so that they receive less each cheque, so that they will receive *some* income over the summers. But it’s not paid vacation.
  6. Teachers do not take “vacation days” whenever they want. Professional Development days and Teacher Inservice Days are work days. Teachers are at work, usually at school or at a conference. Do you know what they do at those things? They learn how to better educate your children. If you think you can do a better job, see #3.
  7. If you feel your child is being treated unfairly or that your child’s teacher is not doing a good job of educating your child, you have options. According to the Education Act, you first talk to the teacher about the problem, and try to solve it that way. If that doesn’t work, you should approach the Principal. If that doesn’t work, you can go to the school board. I think you can even talk to someone at the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation as a last resort, although I’m not positive on that last one. If you don’t like what’s happening in your child’s classroom but you’re not proactive about it, you only have yourself to blame.
  8. through 10. Teachers educate your children. If you’re not prepared to teach your children how to read, how to write, how to do arithmetic, comprehension, music, art, physical education, how to write essays, how the Canadian political system works, why history is important and what our history is, chemistry, biology, physics, algebra, literature, grammar, spelling, heath, family life, sex ed, psychology, law, wood shop, mech shop, home economics, and a MULTITUDE of other things, then, really, shut the fuck up and sit down.

Sure, you have to work. You have to earn a living to put a roof over your head and to put food in your children’s mouths. I get that. We ALL get that. It’s *inconvenient for you* when teachers strike because you have to take time off of your own work. And some people might even lose their jobs over that. WE ALL GET THAT. Go back to point #2. Teachers are NOT childminders.

Go ahead and hate unions all you want. Go on. I’ll wait.

Got that out of your system? Good. Forget about the goddamned union, okay? It outlines their rights and their *responsibilities*. It includes a professional code of conduct. Teachers have a union because it wasn’t uncommon, not so very long ago, for teachers to be paid less than hotel kitchen staff. And it wasn’t uncommon for school boards to just decide not to pay teachers at all. Even now, teachers volunteer for FAR more than for which they are paid. Do you know why they do that?

BECAUSE THEY CARE ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN.

So before you go off the rails and bitch about how teachers have ‘no right to just walk off their jobs and leave my kids with nowhere to go’, and before you start mouthing off about how it ‘must be nice to have the summers off and only have to work 200 days a year’, go and do their job for a year. Hell. Do it for a *month*. You go in and wrangle twenty or thirty children, five days a week, ten months a year. Go in and come up with a way to keep those kids engaged and interested, day after day. Deal with their fights with each other. Deal with their parents who seem to think their own children are the only children attending the school; the ones who think their kids deserve an A because they “tried hard”.

Go in and try to teach children how to be respectful and accepting without talking about racism, because racism is not politically correct. Try to teach children how not to get pregnant or how not to contract social diseases without talking about sex, because sex is DANGEROUS. Get your own butt in gear and try to teach polynomial algebra to a bunch of kids who can’t bloody add because their teachers weren’t allowed to hold them back from grade six. Deal with the bureaucracy that can sometimes be wonderful but can also ruin your life and your passion. Deal with 30 tweenagers, or better yet, deal with 20 fifteen year old boys who think they are better than you, and their 15 female classmates who think they’re smarter than you.

You might not agree with *how much* of a rise in pay teachers are asking for, and that’s fair. I don’t agree with you (I think we should pay them far more than 12% over 1 year), but that’s okay. But don’t sit there and tell me teachers don’t DESERVE to be paid, and paid VERY WELL for their services.

  32 comments for “I owe you. All of you.

  1. Jennifer Mahlberg
    4 May 2011 at 10:57 am

    Cenobyte? You have just made me cry. Sitting in my teacher’s staff room reading this from a staff room community donated computer that happens to be over 15 years old. We have three. For a high school staff of over 50 we have three. So my time on here is sacred. (Did I mention this is a high shcool?) We do have an opportunity to use one of the school’s three classrooms of computers which are five years old however, we are resticted to certain sites. Your’s isn’t one that is allowed. I don’t make those rules but I understand them.
    There are now three teachers behind me reading this who are also tearing up.
    Thank you seems so simple and yet doesn’t begin to relate what I feel. I am a teacher and I can’t come up with words that convey this. So please understand that while I am saying thnk you, it is only a small portion of my meaning.

    On behalf of the (now seven) teachers reading this over my shoulder:

    thank you.

  2. 4 May 2011 at 11:03 am

    First let me say that teachers are worth LOTS of money, providing the quality of education isn’t suffering. Let me also say that teachers are doing a lot less for their money than they used to. Now I know that is going to make you and possibly other people angry but so be it. I have no problem with increasing the wages of teachers if they are actually doing the job that they are being paid to do. Now not all teachers are bad. I’m not saying that. But let’s just say that there are a lot of teachers, as in any profession, that do the bare minimum. If there are different methods of evaluation and we get rid of this ridiculous tenure so that we can filter ourselves to the good teachers, I am all for pretty much any salary they command.

    That being said. Did you know that a CA directly out of grad school usually makes around $ 24,000 per year? Did you also know that they are not entitled to overtime and there are at least three months of the year that they are required to work 80 or so hours per week, only to get paid their regular salary (8 hours per day)? Did you know that if they are in private practice they are guaranteed to be putting in more than the 40 hours per week of the average individual with no further compensation? Did you know that a lot of those files they are working on come in a complete mess? Did you know that the job is not only thankless and stressful, they are viewed as the most evil human beings on earth even though they are there to help you? Did you know that they do not have an organized pension of any sort and that they don’t have a comprehensive benefits package no matter where they work? Did you know they are not unionized and if they want a raise it is based on productivity and if they walk off the job, they better just go and get a new one?

    Life is hard. Shit sucks. All over. It isn’t that I don’t think teachers deserve a raise. It is that I think that everyone deserves one. It isn’t just teachers that work stressful thankless jobs and not everyone has the benefit of being unionized.

    • 4 May 2011 at 12:05 pm

      Did you know that a professional writer or editor right out of university might be able to make $20,000 a year *if* they get a minimum-wage paying full-time job?

      Why don’t CAs have a union that will bargain for them for base salaries and their overtime management?

      My point is this: I don’t make as much as teachers make. Right out of University, I made less than $18,000 a year. Even now, fifteen years after I finished University, I don’t make $45,000 a year. Am I bitter about this? Nope. I don’t do the work I do for the money. I do the work I do because I love to do it.

      I’m sorry you don’t think it’s fair that teachers out of university get paid more than CAs directly out of university. I’m sorry that you don’t get paid better for the work that you do, which is also important work. I would absolutely support CAs if they unionised and walked off the job to lobby for better working conditions, better pay, and more respect.

    • 4 May 2011 at 12:19 pm

      Also-too,

      “Let me also say that teachers are doing a lot less for their money than they used to. Now I know that is going to make you and possibly other people angry but so be it. I have no problem with increasing the wages of teachers if they are actually doing the job that they are being paid to do. Now not all teachers are bad. I’m not saying that. But let’s just say that there are a lot of teachers, as in any profession, that do the bare minimum. “

      See point #7. If you don’t like what your teachers are or aren’t doing, take it up with them.

    • Cheryl
      5 May 2011 at 7:54 pm

      Amen!

  3. 4 May 2011 at 11:43 am

    Excellent points well presented.

    Personally, I’m entirely in favour of unionization. Unions have their flaws, but they’re one of the few ways that the plebes such as myself have ever managed to claw any share of the profits away from the would-be aristos who already have all the money and influence.

    And I remember watching just how hard teachers work and just how little satisfaction they got out of their job. Parents should be down on their knees thanking them for putting up with the ration of crap their awful, vapid, rude, selfish little brats dish out every single day.

    • 4 May 2011 at 12:41 pm

      Well, as you can tell, I’m entirely in favour of unionisation as well. Like any bureaucracy, they can be mismanaged, but in the end, I think they do more good than they do harm, particularly in ensuring that people receive pay commensurate with their skills, education, and risk, benefits, and at the very least, in outlining acceptable working conditions and contractual terms.

      Most of the teachers I know take great joy in their professions. They get rather a lot of satisfaction from their jobs. Teachers have a profound effect on us – we’ll remember a good teacher or a bad teacher for the rest of our lives, right down to the weird white stuff that used to gather at the corner of Ms. B’s mouth when she leaned over my desk to talk about gerunds. Ahhh, gerunds.

      Sorry. Got a bit sidetracked there. Where I’ve seen the most frustration come in with teachers is in *wanting* to do more, or wanting to try new things, and being hamstrung in truly being able to educate. Being hamstrung by bureaucrats and by public opinion. Sure, the students can be challenging. But I really don’t think that most people have an understanding of how much work goes in to teaching, every single day.

      Here’s an example:
      A teacher gets to school between 7:30 and 8:00am, has a cup of coffee, has a brief meeting in the staff room with other teachers and the principal, then goes to the classroom to look over the agenda for the day.

      The teacher lays out the lesson plan(s), arranges the schedule, and goes over any notes about what’s coming up in the day’s routine. At 8:15am, the teacher goes to do supervision, photocopying, study group, morning band class, etc.

      8:45am – the bell rings. Students arrive. The teacher must ensure the students get stuff put away in their lockers and then must settle them down in preparation for the day.

      9:00am – 12:00 – Classes in session. Teachers teach. They answer questions, assist students, moderate quarrels and behaviour, ensure students aren’t going to shiv each other or shag in the bathroom between classes. They are security, janitors, evaulators, facilitators, emissaries, ambassadors, representatives, and, more often than not, counsellors.

      Noon hour – supervision. Supervision. Supervision. Sometimes lunch. Intramurals. Jazz band. Drama club. Debate club. Book club. Gaming club (I hope!). Improv.

      12:30-1:00pm – Classes back in session. See above.

      3:30pm-5:00pm – Teachers review the activities of the day. Then they prepare lesson plans for the following day. More likely, they review the current lesson plan, then make changes according to what happened today. Usually, lesson plans are laid out for a full week. Many teachers then go to supervise and teach volleyball, curling, study session, reading club, chess club, band practice, basketball, floor hockey, bean bag toss, etc.

      5:00pm-7:00pm – Many teachers go home for dinner then *come back to the school* to supervise sports, drama, band, academic competitions, recitals, performances, etc..

      They don’t get paid overtime. They don’t get to take time in lieu for these types of things (some teachers will get time in lieu for things like inservices).

      I just…it boggles the mind what these people put in to **OUR CHILDREN** every day. And it pisses me right off when people a) don’t appreciate that, and b) bitch about what teachers do and do not deserve.

      I don’t know very many other people who not only work their full-time jobs, but then *volunteer* to do more for their jobs.

  4. 4 May 2011 at 11:49 am

    To Jennifer, thank you for working to educate the future. You do not get the applause you deserve.

    To Melistress, yes things are hard all over. To me this is a call for MORE unions, not less. If your work conditions are worse than someone else’s you should be asking why you don’t have it better not why they don’t have it worse. I think most people (most reasonable ones anyways) would agree that everyone deserves decent wages, decent and safe work conditions, a chance at advancement and fair remuneration for work outside their scheduled hours.

    You’re entirely right – everyone deserves a share of the benefits their work creates. Our enemies are the ones who want to deny that to us and who work to set us against one another.

    • 4 May 2011 at 12:21 pm

      I never said their should be less unions. I am in favour of unions if they are not abused.

      I am not even saying that CAs are more important than teachers. I am saying that I am pissed off about the quality of education that is going on and in any other profession if the quality is crap you don’t get a raise. Just. Like. Everywhere. Else.

      • Layne
        4 May 2011 at 12:39 pm

        I think it should be pointed out that the reason education is slipping in quality isn’t because of the teachers. It’s because of the government. Schools don’t receive adequate funding, teachers don’t receive adequate support, and bureaucracies place restrictions and limitations on how and what teachers can teach. Class sizes constantly increase, and it is a well-established FACT that larger classes receive poorer education. This is not the fault of the teachers.

        If we aren’t satisfied with the quality of your child’s education, we should do some research and find out WHY. Perhaps the class sizes at their school have been increased, perhaps they’ve been stuck with inferior textbooks because of budget cutbacks, perhaps the curriculum hasn’t been updated in years. Blaming their teachers is a knee-jerk reaction, and it’s both lazy and unfair to the people who make such large sacrifices for the sake of OUR children.

        • 4 May 2011 at 1:05 pm

          Layne, these are all good points. And part of my point is that maybe that is what they should be talking about. How to make their jobs easier. Not about money because when you talk about money, unless you are a waitress making miniumum wage in a diner somehwere, I am not going to feel sorry for you.

      • 4 May 2011 at 12:50 pm

        If you’re unhappy with the quality of your children’s education, then it is YOUR JOB as a taxpayer to raise the issue with the Minister of Education. With your children’s teachers. With your children’s principal. With your school board.

        They won’t change something if they a) don’t know there’s a problem, and b) don’t think anyone cares what they’re doing.

        In my family, there has only been one teacher whose ability to teach I have questioned. And I took it up with her, and with her principal, and if my other kid gets sent to her class, I will remove my kid from that school and put him somewhere else for the year.

        So I don’t see the quality of education in this province as being crap. Certainly not when compared to other provinces in Canada, and surely not when compared to our nearest neighbour. If you do think the quality of your children’s education is crap, then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Don’t just sit and complain that teachers don’t do their jobs and don’t deserve a rise in pay.

        Take again the example of doctors. There are all KINDS of crap doctors around the province. But when doctors and nurses want a rise in their salaries, their unions/professional associations poll the members and begin the bargaining process. Regardless of how well or how terribly SOME of their members do their jobs.

        It is possible…shockingly easy, in fact, to set the gears in motion to have a teacher removed from their position, if you don’t feel they are capable of doing their job. You need proof, and you need to follow the procedure for doing so.

  5. 4 May 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Please keep in mind that I am not upset because of the “inconvenience” of having to look after my own children. Not at all and I am fortunate enough to be able to pass on that responsibility to my son so I can keep food on the table.

    I am upset because I had to struggle to get teachers not to ignore the problem my son had reading. I am upset because my grade 9 son does not know anything about our parliamentary system. I am upset because every year more and more of the education of my children seems to get passed off on me and I suck as a teacher. I am upset because I DO know teachers who come in at 9am and leave at 3pm. I am upset because even though my child was caught plagarizing, he was not docked any marks and told to redo the book report by drawing a significant scene from the book. I am upset because out education system has been dumbed down and I don’t know if that is because of the teachers or the curriculum set out by the ministry of education but I am sick and tired of working my job only to come home and do theirs too.

    But yes, there are good teachers. And what they do is important. And if it wasn’t important I wouldn’t be so upset about all of the above things. And I think the good teachers are worth their weight in gold. I just don’t agree with a raise across the board for everyone. It isn’t reality in any other profession and it shouldn’t be reality in theirs.

    • 4 May 2011 at 12:20 pm

      It’s reality for all sorts of professionals, including doctors.

      • 4 May 2011 at 12:37 pm

        I am really just tired of the same old “Do you know what teachers make?” argument. People are underpaid all over with less recourse than what they have. This morning I heard “What else are they supposed to do?” Well, guess what? Not everyone has that option. Many people have no option. And yes, maybe this means there should be more unions. But it is really really hard for me to feel sorry for one professional when there are so many others just as, if not more so, underpaid.

        Also too, I know many people who work harder than any professional every does in much more thankless jobs to get paid minimum wage.

        It makes me weary and it is just a whole big pile of “what makes you so special?”

        Also too! I know a few teachers and teachers spouses who don’t support this.

        It all boils down to, “So you want a raise? Show me why.”

        • 4 May 2011 at 12:44 pm

          What makes them so special?
          Really?

          Teach your own kids.

          THAT’S what makes them so special.

          I mean, do people even understand what a HUGE responsibility that is? How beholden you are to the future of the province, the country, and the world, to ensure that these kids you’re teaching now will be running your country in 30 years?

          Yes, people all over the country are underemployed and underpaid. But why say “you shouldn’t get this because I don’t” and “what makes you so special” instead of saying “you deserve this, and so do I” and then working for your own betterment? (Not that you’re not. I mean the plural ‘you’.)

          And for every teacher and teacher’s spouse who don’t support this, every single teacher who is a member of the STF (which is the union representing teachers only in the K-12 system), **they had ample opportunity to vote against it in their union**. If they didn’t, they need to shut the fuck up and sit down. If they *did* and were overruled, well, that’s how democracy works.

          And I have shown you why.

          • 4 May 2011 at 12:59 pm

            First, you can say that about any profession. I can’t be a writer either. And I can’t perform surgery. And I can’t administer an injection. And I can’t drive a bobcat. And I can’t build a house. And I can’t fill people’s teeth. And I can’t give someone financial advice. There are a lot of things I can’t do or can’t do well. That is what other people get paid for and either directly out of my pocket or through my tax dollars.

            That’s like saying “pull your own tooth”.

            I already said that good teachers are worth their weight in gold.

            And it strikes me that you have taken up issues with your kid’s teacher but still have to wonder whether or not your younger child will get put in that classroom because that teacher hasn’t been removed and stands to gain from this raise.

            What I am saying is that all teachers, just like everyone else, are not created equal. I would rather see a different system for their pay structure so that each of them get paid what they are worth.

            • 4 May 2011 at 9:06 pm

              I didn’t want the woman fired. I wanted the school board and administration to know there were problems with her abilities and her behaviour. I did that.

            • Woz
              4 May 2011 at 10:14 pm

              You should be worried Melistress, I largely agree with you.

              Teaching is THE most important profession. The best teachers should be paid as much or more than any doctor. But the worst of them may very well deserve to be fired.

              Truthfully, most if the teachers I had were very good. A few were excellent. And a very few were lazy, useless, and at best I learned from them how to play the system, which I guess is still something.

              More and more I am hearing these or similar sentiments reflected. People are getting tired of paying for the lousy teachers. I am willing to pay the good ones a little more the great ones a lot more, but before I agree to that I would like something to be done with the ones that show up to work at 8:45 and leave at 3:45. I would like the teachers to act more professionally.

              Perhaps that means a self governance body. Perhaps it means some form of merit increase.

    • Layne
      4 May 2011 at 12:46 pm

      I get why you’re upset. I had my share of terrible experiences with apathetic teachers. But the problem isn’t the teachers, it’s the system.

      Teachers ignore problem students because they’re not trained how to deal with learning issues. More professional development funding could help fix this. Also, teachers often aren’t able to assess these problems because classes are so large, they just go unnoticed.

      Your son doesn’t learn about the parliamentary system, and other things, because the curriculum doesn’t contain them. This is not the fault of the teachers, who are forbidden to deviate significantly from curriculum.

      Response to plagiarism is a policy decision that comes down from the bureaucrats. Teachers aren’t at liberty to choose what to do about it, and sometimes it’s just deemed easiest to go with the path of least resistance.

      I completely agree with you that they education system has been dumbed down, but I want the right people held responsible. School boards, politicians, bureaucrats. NOT the teachers, who get caught in the middle.

      • 4 May 2011 at 12:52 pm

        Your son doesn’t learn about the parliamentary system, and other things, because the curriculum doesn’t contain them. This is not the fault of the teachers, who are forbidden to deviate significantly from curriculum.

        It is in some schools. Our kids learned about it this past month.

        And your point is well taken, Layne. Thank you for making it so well.

      • 4 May 2011 at 1:15 pm

        And he doesn’t have a learning issue. My son is on the honor roll. He was largely ignored for a small period when he slipped a little. And I did go to fight this out. And nothing ever happened. At all.

        • 4 May 2011 at 3:03 pm

          So what follow-up did you do?

          • 6 May 2011 at 10:21 am

            As this was happening and nothing was being done, it became clear that we were moving and he would be in a different school. The teacher who addressed his shortcomings at that point I am willing to pay millions of dollars to. She deserves it.

  6. Jennifer Mahlberg
    4 May 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I have read all this and I am saddened by the issues raised about teachers who are incompetant. While this happens in every employment area, we often just want to fire the teacher on the spot. There might be some really good areas that teacher shines within but because of scheduling, student numbers and budget restraints they get shuffled into positions where they really hate what they do. I’m not saying tihs is the case, but often it is.

    In any case, I look at the students as clients. If I am not serving my clients to the best of my ability, then I am not doing my job.
    We do have incentives for doing after hours and extra curricular activities at least in our division. If we put in 300 extra hours we get one half day off work. However, we have to book that day many months in advance and it can’t be on certain days and it doesn’t acrue. It works for some, but honestly we don’t keep track.
    Maybe something like a finanical incentive for teachers who considered ‘of excellence’ in their field. I don’t know. I really don’t. But if you, or anyone has a teacher who is neglecting thier position, then they have to be taken to task. We take an oath when we convocate, just like the medical profession. We are expected to live that oath daily.

    Thank you for raising some excellent points. All of which I agree are valid.
    All I can do is be the best teacher I can. I know when a friend of mine who teaches at the U of S says, “Oh I have so-and-so in my class. When I asked them about their favourite teacher and most influential, one who they respected the most it was your name that came up.” If I have touched the life of even just one student and made it better, then I have fulfilled my own personal oath.

    Thank you for seeing what we do matters. Thank you for even reading this far and not zoning out. Thank you for letting me teach your children. I take my job very seriously. After all, I see your children more days and more hours than you do. I expect to do my very best every day.

    Just,…thank you.

  7. Cori May
    4 May 2011 at 4:20 pm

    I would be the choir here, but I’m happy to hear the preaching.

  8. Dean April
    5 May 2011 at 3:13 pm

    What I really think needs to happen is that standardized testing be put into place in each grade at the beginning and the end of the school year… if a teacher is able to prove through the standardized testing that they moved the children forward educationally then they deserve a BONUS for the year… one could easily make the bonus tied to the amount that the class moves. It would make the teaching professionals stand out more and allow them to receive a better standard of living.

    Interesting thing is that the majority of teachers I have socialized this idea with are completely afraid of it. Fact is I think that on the whole there are some teachers who would welcome the challenge however the majority wouldn’t because it would then increase pressure to perform better. From the perspective of the province wouldn’t they be thrilled to be able to announce that they paid out so much in bonuses to teachers in the province who demonstrated above average skills.

    As for teachers blaming the decline of students on curriculum, it seems to me that the curriculum is designed with lots of input from teachers and therefore really the teachers only have themselves to blame. Larger class sizes is directly attributable to the lack of foresight of the school boards themselves who decide when, where and how large schools should be built. Out of teachers control, not really because the teachers can certainly lobby the parents in their schools to speak out about class sizes and help teach the community what to do to affect change, but they don’t. A lot of teachers I have met are not only content with the status quo in their lives but also like to complain about it amongst themselves without really truly doing anything to affect change.

    For those few teachers who have made a positive change in my children’s lives, I am grateful, however, I can think of several teachers immediately and off the top of my head who should be moved out of the teaching profession but can’t because of tenure. I think the teaching establishment needs to move out of the Industrial Ages and into the Modern Era and I really believe that it is the Teacher’s Federations that need to demand that the changes be made, rather than simply ask “Please sir, can I have a bit more?” If teachers could demonstrate value to the student, the family, the community and society on the whole then it would be so much easier to get the raises they so richly deserve. As it stands now the slackers in the teaching profession have turned a good portion of our schools into a daycare and frankly day-care workers get paid considerably less than teachers do. I also think that a large part of the problem is that Principles are teachers and not necessarily leaders and really if you think of it if you have a Principle who is a good leader, they don’t or shouldn’t allow poor teachers to continue in the classroom unless they could provide leadership to those poorer teachers and help them grow into the profession more.

    Good Luck, but on the whole I think the teachers and the Teacher’s Union needs to step forward and provide better ways to grow rather than just pouring more money onto the fire. If the Teacher’s Union had the will to prove their teachers really were the best on the continent and subscribed to the testing to prove it, Saskatchewan teachers could well become the best paid teachers on the planet!

    • 6 May 2011 at 10:31 am

      Applause

      Thank you for better communicating what I was trying to get at.

  9. 5 May 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Interesting suggestion. This sort of thing has been done in other places (most notably, in the States), and one of the results is that you end up with entire schools full of students who perform poorly academically – a kind of academic ghettoisation. Those schools then end up receiving less funding (rather than *more*), and the students continually do poorer and poorer, and the teachers willing to work in those schools are few and far between, and are not at the top of their game in some cases. It’s not a model I would like to see in this province.

    I can think of several teachers immediately and off the top of my head who should be moved out of the teaching profession but can’t because of tenure.

    You can *always* lose your job; even if you have tenure. If you really feel these teachers are harmful to children’s education, you need to address it with the principal, and if that doesn’t work, you can address it with the school board. In some cases, this results in a teacher being moved from school to school, but I believe you can also go through the STF. I could be mistaken about that last one, though.

  10. Dean April
    5 May 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I don’t think that existing funding levels should be dropped. But I believe that individual teachers through their efforts should have a portion of their renumeration increased in the event that they move the children forward. I read a report that said “a good teacher on average can move a child forward anywhere from .8 to 1.5 years; however, a bad teacher can cost a student up to 2.5 years.” And really we need to have a system that addresses this issue, especially if we can do it from a positive perspective by providing a bonusing system. I had also heard of the academic ghettoisation taking place in the States but, the flip side of the issue is that it does identify specific locations where more drastic corrections need to occur. Sort of a self-selection for correction process. It was also said at the time about the ghettoisation that the quality of the education was low to begin with and that the change in renumeration brought that deficiency to the forefront.

    Fact is that the current system is really, really old and does deserve revamping, it’s just unfortunate that teachers and their unions (who are perfectly positioned to know what needs to be done), aren’t coming forward with concrete solutions for the issues. That’s why I think there is such reluctance by the community to pay more for the education system, society doesn’t think it’s getting it’s money’s worth as it is.

    As for bad teachers, I have made my own trips to school to meet with the principle about certain teachers, and have done it with several other parents and the net result was not positive since the teacher continues in the school and will not be moved out. Fact is that I was told point blank that unless a teacher does something truly immoral, unethical or illegal if they have tenure they can’t be moved. Also, the reason the the teacher couldn’t be moved out of the classroom was that there was an equal or worse teacher who needed to be moved out of another class and the principle didn’t have the resources to move both. It’s no secret there is a lot of deadwood in the teaching profession and I have seen how demoralizing it is for the productive teachers to have to work in the same system that equally renumerates the poor ones.

    I believe that a raise is necessary for those teachers who do good work (not just outstanding, but good,) however I think that society on the whole is saying that the Teacher’s Federation can’t continue protecting the poor teachers the way they have been. And maybe it’s time for the Teacher’s Federation to prove to society that they aren’t willing to protect teachers who don’t meet minimum criteria. Maybe the Teacher’s Federation has to review and revoke more of their union members (thereby disqualifying them from teaching)!

    I also think that cameras in the classrooms could also help the teachers prove to specific parents how difficult their children really are.

    I still think teachers proving their worth and being given substantial positive bonuses would go a long way to increasing the satisfaction among the teachers which would then trickle down into the classrooms.

    • 5 May 2011 at 7:48 pm

      It sounds like your problems with ineffective teachers had more to do with the bureaucracy being broken. Sometimes you have to go over the principal’s head. I’m certainly not suggesting there is no cronyism in the K-12 system; on the contrary – I could tell stories that would curl your socks…but rather that there are systems of redress that can trump tenure.

  11. Jenn Mahlberg
    6 May 2011 at 10:59 am

    Some very interesting and appreciated facts are brought forward here. It’s through debate and discussion that we come together to either forge or defend our positions. I have done both.
    I also want to point out that we in Saskatchewan have a very high rate of social, economic as well as addition issues that will affect our students when it comes to standardized tests. We can’t haul water when we have a bucket full of holes. We do our best, at least the ones I know do.
    I agree the federations and unions need revamping. It’s funny that the teachers who agree fall under the category of excellence rather as opposed to those who think its fine the way it is. It is broken. But since the teachers themselves fund this through our own salary, we just are keeping our noses above water. Addressing this needs to happen, but not just yet. Yet.
    As well, we need to really examine the rationale for removing a teacher, along with a request for examination and rebuttal committee. Just to make it fair.
    Think its hard to remove a teacher? Try removing a Doctor. When a blatant racist attack both verbally as well as physically on my step father was reported, they were told by a very qualified famous lawyer as well as the college of physicians and surgeons: Good Luck. You will win but you won’t see a dime before this man dies. And the Dr will not be fired.
    Its the same everywhere. And believe me, teachers are brought to the office and reprimanded, chastised and taken to task when the parents and students are long gone. As well, I’m not sure how it is in other divisions, but in ours we have the superintendent of learning come IN TO OUR classroom and watch us teach several times over a couple years. That’s every single teacher not just the new ones. In my school the principal pops in and sees me teach every once a month or more. I appreciate that. He sees me do what I do best every time, not just when he is expected.
    I don’t have the answer and we are too exhausted to make the changes now. But the good that will come of this is people will see what we do and how much we love the students. I hope.
    Thank you Dean for your suggestions. Thank you Melissa for standing up for your child. I dearly wish more parents cared as much.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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