Friday, May 6, 2011

Teacher salaries in perspective

Yes, even in Saskatchewan...

The problem with contract negotiations when it comes to teachers and health care (nurses especially) is that there is too much emotion attached to it. Each person in society has a different idea of what is fair compensation for a teacher.

The discussion - and I don't care where the collective bargaining is done, be it Wisconsin or Ontario or Saskatchewan - revolves around either pointing out that teachers are underpaid for what they do, or that teachers are grossly underpaid for what they do so we should all just shut up and be glad they're only getting what they're asking for.

Except that's not exactly all sides of the story.

I'm going to preface this by saying that I believe teachers are well paid for what I EXPECT them to do. That's what the whole thing comes down to - expectations. Too many people expect that teachers are the front line in raising children. They expect that the teacher not only teach reading, writing and 'rithmetic, but that they also be integral in the raising of the child.

I don't expect that of teachers, and herein lies the point I'm about to make. It is ultimately the PARENTS who are responsible for raising their children, teaching them right from wrong, what is and is not proper behaviour in society, and helping them to grow up. It is the Teacher who reinforces that teaching by enforcing social mores and proper rules of conduct whilst the student is in their care. This is actually the job of ALL adults in contact with a child, not just the teachers, and the reward for that job is a just society that values safety and politeness for all.

Do I think that a Teacher's core function is important in society? Yes. Is it worth whatever they think it is? Not unless they want to submit to a free market unfettered by seniority rules and the like.

As it sits right now, a first year teacher in Saskatchewan earns as much as the average household in Saskatchewan earned in 2006. A first year teacher in Saskatchewan (presumably with a 4 year B.Ed degree) earns $46,419 plus benefits while the average household (all households, mind you) earned $46,719.

I'm going to emphasize that again - the average HOUSEHOLD earned $46,719 in 2006.

If we slide up the scale, the most experienced teacher in Saskatchewan, in the same normal class, can expect to earn $73,036 per year - a full $13,038 per year more than the average middle class HOUSEHOLD earned in 2006.

Let's put it another way...

A First year teacher in Saskatchewan is in the top 40% of earners in Saskatchewan, especially when their benefits are factored in.

A teacher at the top of their class in Saskatchewan (15 years or more of experience) is in the top 10% of all earners in Saskatchewan - again when all their benefits are factored in.

Now... are they really underpaid?  You be the judge.

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