When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina. After that, I wanted to be a novelist.
It didn’t occur to me to want to be a teacher until later. As a homeschooling kid, I didn’t even have teachers other than my mom.
Then I went to public high school, and had many different teachers, including some really amazing ones. It was my senior French teacher who inspired me to consider a career in education. She was (and is, I’m sure) a wonderful, talented person who taught because she loved kids and wanted to engage with them and help them to do better in life. I loved her class.
When I decided I wanted to teach, it wasn’t because I wanted to be rich. (I already knew that teaching is NOT the way to get rich.) Ditto being famous. I wanted to use my languages, to help other people find their love of language, to impart knowledge and connect with young people. To teach. It sounded so rewarding, so community-oriented, so purposeful.
I remember that my awesome French teacher came to my farewell party before I left for France, after I’d finished my degree in French and Spanish at university (which was also inspired in a large part by her). I hadn’t seen her in four years – four years during which Mike Harris had wreaked havoc on Ontario’s education system. She was looking forward to retirement, and she was feeling, for the first time in her decades-long career, disillusioned and sad about teaching. I remember her saying, “It’s different now. The government speaks badly of teachers, so the parents speak badly of teachers, and the kids come to class with that disrespect in their minds. It’s a terrible atmosphere to teach in.”
The same thing has been going on in British Columbia now since 2001 – an agonizing demoralization of educational professionals through consistent bad-mouthing and a gradual stripping of contracts and working conditions.
Now here we are in Ontario, once again, dealing with a provincial government who blabs on about “putting kids first” as they scramble to lay blame for the deficit. (Ask any Ontario public school teacher – this catch-phrase is so hypocritical it makes us want to throw up.)
This is the one thing I actually hate about being a teacher. There are many things that are hard, annoying, and stressful, but they are all things we sign up for when we undertake to teach – not things I hate. What I truly loathe is that whenever contract negotiation time rolls around, people suddenly feel justified in calling me horrible things: greedy, lazy, opportunistic, irrational, whiny, selfish, uncaring…. You name it, I’ve been called every ugly thing in the book. Not to my face, of course, but by the government (in slightly less inflammatory but no less influential terms), by the media, and by countless members of the public who have no idea what teaching actually is.
This time around, I’ve vowed not to look at any comments from online forums about the issue. They just make me feel like shit for choosing a job I thought would be helpful and meaningful in the world.
Maybe people would be less likely to say all those mean things if there were a bit less bias and a bit more truth in the media. If I didn’t know what actually goes on in schools, I might get nasty about this too. (Luckily, I’ve learned in school the importance of respect and compassion.)
Let me attempt to clarify a few things.
About teacher salaries
As you may have heard, the Ontario government wants all teachers to do their part by taking a pay freeze for two years, while the pay grid is examined and revised. For those who don’t know, teacher pay is based on A) the teacher’s education, B) the teacher’s years of experience (to a maximum of 10), and C) negotiated salary increases to account for cost-of-living. In Ontario, your average teacher has at least two university degrees and starts out being paid $50-55K a year. At the top of the pay grid (based on A and B above), this can go up to 85-95K a year.
I don’t know any teachers who complain about the salary. Even the pay freeze is an idea most of us can live with. It’s a bit scary not being told what the pay grid might look like after revisions… but we can hope for the best. What really sucks is the government talking as if we are suddenly demanding outrageous raises, asking for more than what was previously agreed to. (Come on. Nothing in the contract agreement is a surprise to the government.) That, and the members of the public who, quite literally, state that we are not worth that kind of money.
It’s always refreshing to think about the pay on a per child per hour basis, as in this article (from the U.S., where teacher salaries are lower, but the point still stands). Also, it seems worth mentioning that part of what is costing so much in Ontario public schools right now is the changeover to all day, every day kindergarten. The Liberals staunchly defend the program, because it saves parents a lot of money on day care. And teachers are basically being asked to pay for that personally, through salary cuts, as well as providing that extra “day care”. Interesting.
Furthermore, if teachers are not worth what they are being paid… who IS worth that kind of money? And who could ever possibly be worth more than that? Are we saying that corporate CEOs, professional athletes, and famous actors – whom we support by choice with our business all the time, and whose salaries dwarf those of teachers – are better people, truly worthy of more money? That they contribute more to the lives of normal people?
Arwen, a writer friend of mine, wrote the following regarding the B.C. teachers’ strike this past spring:
“The thing is – I work in the private sector, with professionals, and I have never ONCE heard someone with a university education and specialized skills apologize for wanting to be paid for their time commensurate to other individuals, and to have regular cost of living raises and the possibility for advancement.[…] It’s not shameful that professionals don’t want to see years of no-increase in their salaries. I’m tired of hearing teachers be pushed into a position where they’re forced to choose thinking of the kids vs. thinking of the profession.”
About taxpayer money
I can’t deny that it bothers me when people talk about paying taxes with an “us” and “them” attitude. As if “you” pay “my” salary. Teachers pay hundreds of dollars per paycheque in income tax. There are more than 100,000 full-time teachers (and thousands of part-time ones) in the province. Lots of tax money. When the job market flounders, it’s the taxes from secure, well-paying jobs like ours that are supporting those people who have been laid off.
Just sayin’. Paying taxes doesn’t make you special.
About sick days
To be honest, I’ve never come close to using all the sick days I’m allowed in a year. Not even this year, when I had to dedicate several days for baby-related appointments – and one or two for mental health. The only teachers I know who have taken the allotted days and/or used banked sick days are ones who had to either care for a sick child, or fight cancer. To be honest, taking sick days is a pain in the neck, because you have to plan (on your own time – while sick!) for someone else, who doesn’t know your class or your routines, to do your job for a day. We don’t do that unless we need to.
BUT, let it not be forgotten that schools are basically the germiest places on the planet. Teachers are generously given every opportunity to get sick. Children as a group are SO. DIRTY. They are, on the whole, terrible at washing their hands (even when we explicitly teach them how). They cough all over the place, they are full of snot… Some of them pee on the floor (or worse), and some even throw up on their teachers.
A friend and former colleague of mine, Lisa (who also happens to be fantastic teacher), had a conversation with CBC on Ontario Morning, and it’s well worth a listen. One thing she explains is how parents, without realizing it, rely on teachers’ generous sick days by sending their children to school sick.
About the Catholic teachers
One of the favourite arguments against public teachers right now is, “Catholic teachers agreed to the terms, so they’re obviously fine. The rest of the teachers need to suck it up.”
I can see how folks would think that. Are there any other factors that could be at work here?
What you have to keep in mind is that many Ontarians are currently wondering why we have a publicly-funded school board for Catholics when A) we don’t have that for any other religious group and B) certain teachings of the Catholic church are actually at odds with Canadian law. There are those in the Catholic union (and, similarly, francophone school boards) who believe it would be a bad idea to make waves when it comes to contract negotiations. It is not surprising that Catholic teachers feel the need to, shall we say, pick their battles.
[Update: it has been brought to my attention (thanks, Sarah!) that the agreement between “Catholic teachers” and the government was a basically unilateral action by union leaders, and one that has frustrated many actual Catholic teachers. My apologies for using the term “Catholic teachers” (just like the news media – shame on me!) when it was actually the OECTA president doing the battle-picking… What a pity for both separate and public school teachers.]
Let me be clear: teachers don’t want to go on strike. We dread the idea as much as parents do. Striking is not what we’re here for – it’s boring, unrewarding (financially – since strike pay is terrible – and career-wise), and it messes everything up for the kids, for planning, for report cards… everything. AND it makes people hate us. Trust me, we know this all too well, and we don’t want to do it. But it needs to be an option.
Teachers are the people who spend the time with students; teachers are the ones who truly know what is needed in schools. For the government to say, “Agree to these non-negotiable terms, or we’ll legislate and force you to agree,” is insulting and degrading, not to mention undemocratic. I use this technique with my son sometimes, but he’s three years old (and parenting is not a democracy). Maybe if we were preschoolers, such tactics would go over just fine. As it is… we are not impressed.
I know lots of people have a hate on for unions. Many non-unionized working people think of us as whiny, greedy, unrealistic, and… well, see above. They think we live in a dream world of unreasonable bliss, and that we need to return to the real world with working conditions like regular people have.
Thomas Walkom doesn’t agree. He explains it very well at The Star:
“As unions disappear, so do well-paying, secure jobs. When labour is strong, even non-union shops pay well — just to prevent themselves from being organized. When labour is weak, that pressure evaporates.
“As well-paid jobs disappear so does the middle class. A study released this week by the U.S. National Employment Law Project confirms what many suspected: the American jobs being regained since 2008 pay far less than those which were lost.
“Sadly, much of the middle-class doesn’t recognize the role that unions play in keeping everyone’s wages at livable levels. A survey done for Public Response (a spin-off from Ottawa’s Rideau Institute) suggests that about 42 per cent of Canadians think unions do little for society at large.
“Blinkered thinking. We are all paying the price.”
Personally, I would much rather that the working conditions that “regular people” have could progress toward those of unionized workers. Then maybe everyone would be less grumpy.
About vacation time
You’ve probably already heard that A) teachers are not actually paid for the summer, our salary is pro-rated to be distributed evenly throughout the year, and B) most teachers spend a good chunk of their summers working anyway.
Once again, we are well aware of how good we have it when it comes to the amount of vacation time inherent in the system. No complaints there.
But if I’m honest about it, I must admit that I would not be a teacher today without that vacation time. The prospect of summer holidays was the only thing that got me through my first couple of years in the profession. I had some pretty rough jobs at the start, ones that made me feel awful, like a failure, every single day. This is partly because I was a newbie with a lot to learn, and partly because kids, especially in packs, can be brutal. I longed for my old office job in which I only spoke with adults, and we all just did our own work… where we could book an appointment without booking a replacement… where we could take a bathroom break whenever we needed to… I still sometimes long for a job in which the tenor of my day does not depend on large groups of youngsters all dealing with their own individual dramas. All teachers ask themselves, especially in the first few years, “What the f*** was I thinking??? Why did I voluntarily subject myself to this??” Being able to distance oneself from the emotional drain of teaching is the only reason we don’t just burn out in droves every year.
And I must reiterate my point about working conditions and ask why people feel it’s better to aim for the lowest common denominator. Why do you want me to have less vacation time? Why don’t YOU want MORE? I personally think that two weeks of time off out of 52 is not enough for anybody – not even close. Studies show that people are healthier, less stressed, more positive, and more productive when they have more time off to rejuvenate themselves. Everyone deserves decent vacation time.
It’s true: there are lazy teachers in the system. There are bad teachers in the system. (There are duds in most every workplace, so this is not a shock.) In my eight-year teaching career, spanning six different schools, I’ve known a few. They’re teachers who got into the profession for the wrong reasons, people who don’t seem to like children, who don’t have patience for kids’ foibles, who love to complain about how hard the job is. They do as little work as they can get away with. And when I talk with such people, I have the impression that whatever their reasons for becoming teachers, it’s not really worth it for them.
The truth is, the vast majority of teachers I’ve known work really, really hard. They come to work and put on their game face, no matter what they’re dealing with in their personal lives. They spend countless hours outside the school day improving their practice, providing extracurriculars, meeting (and exceeding) government standards.They do their best for every child in their care: the ones who learn almost effortlessly, as well as the ones who never say a word, the ones who haven’t eaten breakfast and have only sugary crap in their lunch, the ones with five-second attention spans, the ones who can’t stop talking, the ones who are relieved to come to school because their home lives are miserable, and the ones who have to be bribed to show up. And they work with parents too – the neglectful, the overprotective, and everyone in between. These teachers are intelligent, creative, caring people who really love kids – your kids. They inspire me every single day. What a shame that they also deal with being called greedy and lazy every time their contracts expire.
About putting kids first
Recently, in The Globe and Mail, Education Minister Laurel Broten was quoted as saying, “I really want to encourage our teachers to put the interests of the students that they have the privilege of teaching every single day first.” In an attempt to invalidate any job action, the Minister has come up with a statement so condescending, it’s almost laughable. Laurel Broten is not a teacher. To say something like that (and many other similar inanities) shows that she doesn’t spend real time in schools, witnessing what teachers do every day, which is: put kids first. Her opinions and wishes, therefore, are irrelevant, except that along with Dalton McGuinty, she apparently has the power to force them upon us.
I have no idea how Broten and McGuinty think they are putting kids first. Unless they think that insulted, disheartened teachers do a better job?
A final word
I know tomorrow is the first day of school (maybe even today by the time you read this), and although I won’t be joining your ranks this year (too busy being hugely pregnant) I’m thinking about you all.
None of us sleeps well the night before the first day of school, but I know you will go into your classrooms determined to be the best teacher you’ve been yet, to reach more children than any other year, to be even more awesome than you’ve been so far.
It’s inevitable that you will have a school year filled with ups and downs, but I know you will weather them with grace.
You will even manage some finesse when faced with ignorant members of the public saying offensive things about you, because it’s apparently part of your job to do so.
You are amazing.
(And remember, Matt Damon loves you. 🙂 )
UPDATE: This post was written on September 3rd. If you are reading this because you have a concern about teachers’ job action, there is a more recent post here.
341 thoughts on “Those Greedy, Lazy Teachers”
It actually makes me cry thinking of you and all the amazing teachers I know called such horrible names. My children have been blessed with awesome, creative, dedicated and caring teachers for 90% of their school careers. I feel sad and sorry that teachers always seem to be in the cross hairs of the government cut backs. Wishing you luck in the negotiations and love for all that you do!
Amanda, I have loved talking with you about teachers (the good and the bad)… especially since you are one of those ultra-involved parents who knows how it goes down, and does so much for the student body as well. Thank you for supporting us.
Me, too. I agree with everything you and Matt have said!
Thanks, Mama. And thanks for all the teachin’!
I taught in Ontario for 16 years. I lived through the Harris years. I left Ontario for BC in the summer of 2001, so happy that I was escaping that negativity. Half way across Canada I heard the news that the BC government declared teaching an essential service and took away our right to strike. At the same time, they opened the contract and stripped many of the hard won agreements. I’ve endured another 11 years out here of the teacher bashing rhetoric until I could take no more. I retired two years before I had planned. The broke my spirit.
For the first time in 27 years, I will not be going into a classroom the first Tuesday of September. I will miss the kids, the excitement and the creativity of teaching. I will not miss feeling like I have to justify my career.
One last comment. Nearly half of newly qualified teachers leave the profession within the first five years. That’s because it’s an incredibly difficult job. Those teachers who stick with it need far more than the salary and holidays to stay with the job. They do it for the love of children and the belief that they are doing something worth doing with their lives. God Bless them all.
Beth, it broke my heart when you announced your decision to leave education earlier than planned, because of a regressive and hostile government. I really hope that your colleagues and students made it clear to you how much your teaching was truly worth.
i am sitting here with tears in my eyes, thinking about everything you have written. and i agree. our gov’t, our society has it all wrong when it comes to how we treat teachers. as my eldest bear enters JK this week, i am terrified of his future. i went to school in finland, and well, things are just so different on that side of the pond.
good luck to all the teachers.
i value you!
lola recently posted..family party!
Lola, I hope you AND your sweet bear had a great first day! I know it can be tough – sometimes tougher on parents than on kids! – that first little while in kindergarten. But kindergarten teachers are very special people… I know it’s going to be great. Despite the government’s best efforts, education has come a long way in the past few decades, and I know that most of this province’s teachers will go on making school awesome. (That being said – I have read some great things about schools and the teaching profession in Scandinavia…)
I have the utmost respect for teachers and in my opinion, you all deserve the salary of a pro athlete or famous actor. You play such a huge role in shaping these little lives, and to be totally honest, I don’t know how you do it every day! It really does take an amazing soul to do the job you do. Thank freakin’ goodness for teachers! You give me back my sanity after two long months, and I know for a fact my kids feel the same 😉
Chris, thanks for being an awesome parent – your moral support means a lot, but raising the kind of wonderful children who make the job so worthwhile… that’s even better!
In Vietnam, my dad was a math teacher and then a principal in a seminary. My parents have now been in Canada for around 30 years. Over those decades, many of his formers students have moved to Canada and have looked him up and connected with him because of the amount of influence he had on them and the level of respect they had for him. Teachers are extremely well-respected there. On Vietnamese New Year (or T?t as it’s called), children go and pay their respects to their ancestors, their elders, and their teachers. That’s how they rank. When my parents came to Canada, they were shocked at the level of disrespect teachers have here. In Vietnam, parents don’t question teachers’ decisions and actions. They are basically given the authority to man their classroom as they see fit. One of my mom’s favourite stories is of a boy who got caught chewing gum so he was made to stand in front of the classroom, spit the gum into his hand, and then continutally open and close his palms together. Probably wouldn’t go so well over here.
As a fellow public servant, I totally hear your points about taxpayer money, strikes, and unions. I get that flack all the time. Seriously, does the public WANT disgruntled employees making decisions that affect the public and how to use those dollars?
Thanks for sharing this, Mary. It really puts things in perspective… we tend to think we’re so socially advanced here in Canada, but it’s not necessarily true! Though things have changed a lot here in 30-odd years, too. One of our teachers who just retired last year remembers her public school days in Northern Ontario when the principal would find someone at the beginning of each year to give the strap to… over the P.A.! So unthinkable at this point, an educator having the license to do something like that.
And I know we’ve had some similar experiences as public servants… Sitting and eating bonbons while getting paid a fortune… Sound about right? 😉 Good luck back at work!
Thank you for saying what we are all thinking. I don’t do my job for the money, the sick time, the vacation time, or the benefits. If Canada truly wants a first-class work force, the only way to achieve it is through educated, high-achieving teaching and support staff. To attract “the best,” the job must look attractive!
Thank you, Kristy – an excellent point. You’re absolutely right; I hate to think what the teaching work force would look like if it were made up only of people who did the job until they could find something “better” (more sustainable). All the continuity, mentoring, stability, and accumulated wisdom would disappear, and education would definitely suffer for it.
You had me until you decided to divide your loyalties. Catholic teachers appreciate your, umm…support.
Same goes, Mike. Unfortunately, it was OECTA who divided my loyalties for me. But I do try to understand where you/they are coming from, whereas many public teachers just consider the Catholic position a massive betrayal.
Seriously though, look at the last PDT negotiations and stop believing everything the ETFO / OSSTF council of presidents filter into the media. The truth is out there…
I think that’s the toughest thing about contract negotiations: you can’t please everyone. The wider the net any group (gov’t or union) decides to cast, the harder it is to agree. Catholic teachers definitely bargained a better deal than what was originally proposed, and good on you for that. But I have no choice but to trust my union leaders when they report that the situation at the PDT was untenable, and not a proper negotiation. I do personally believe that it makes more sense to negotiate regionally between teachers and Boards, as is supposed to happen, rather than enforcing a province-wide deal. (I don’t envy our negotiators their job right now.)
In all sincerity, I hope your first week back is going great.
There are a number of issues within the Teaching profession, many valid comments are focused on the teachers, what about the system itself….
The government should be looking sucessful education systems around the world. Switzerlands education system has proven to be outstanding. In terms of mathematics, the country achieved the eighth highest score, and significantly outperformed nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom. This mainly due to the student to teacher ratio, which is about 15 to 1.
Canadian schools have in many cases, 30 students in a class, with several students on IEP’s, ESL’s, etc. With reduced staffing(EA support) this is not an ideal or effective learning environment. I only wish that the CDN govt would recognize that students of today are the leaders of tomorrow!
Mike, I couldn’t agree with you more! Especially about reduced EA support – EAs make such a huge difference in classrooms and we need more of them, not fewer.
From one teacher to another, a huge thank you!! So well written and speaks of my experiences. By the way, my grade 12/13 French teacher was also the one who inspired me to be a teacher.
Cathy, thanks for your comment, and for reading. I hope your first week back with the kids is wonderful so far!
I’m sorry, the banality of teachers is unhinging. Teacher’s aren’t professionals, teachers are what you become when you can’t become a professional. Sure you get the short end of the stick when it comes to respect and clout but most teachers don’t attend sophisticated events anyway. I’m really not sure what you’re complaining about ( yes you are complaining, the whole article is a complaint.) Good teachers, who love what they do, would do the job for half of what you’re getting paid. You said it best at the beginning, you didn’t become a teacher to be rich so then why do you need more money or more anything? To make 55k a year in any other real profession right off the bat you have to work 30% more than a teacher. So then why should we get anything else in life? What entitles you to more of what you’re already getting?
Hey, Fred, congratulations! You are my VERY FIRST TROLL. Thank you for both missing and illustrating my points so spectacularly! I love your choice of the word “banality”, since your cliches are nothing short of exemplary. I wonder what is your profession that has embittered you so? Have a great time at all your sophisticated events!
LOL, I only know what a troll is from watching the Newsroom. I’m not a troll perse, but I suppose a troll by any other name is a troll (cliche, I know, I love them). But you are right, I did miss your point and I am painting a picture that the rest of us feel about teachers. My profession is writer and designer by academia but recently I bought out a struggling marketing company and sold it to follow my passion of publishing.
I’m not sure what the article’s purpose is, it sounds just like I said, like a whiny complaint. You go over salary, the right to strike, tax payers paying your salary. But to what avail? You say salary you’re willing to fold on -so what? You talk about vacation time and how everyone should have more vacation time -I agree, but wouldn’t everyone? You see what I’m getting at.
What is the point of the article? Are you trying to convince me of something? if so, what are you trying to convince me of? The article seems like a validation.
So why dont’ you help the rest of us understand the perils of teaching because clearly no one does, except other teachers.
There is weight to the saying “Those who can’t do, teach” because it’s true teachers are failures, but they take the failure and turn it into something positive which is great. Think about it, an english teacher is failed writer, a science teacher is a failed scientist, a gym teacher is… you get the point.
It’s not meant to degrade the profession because, like you said, you went in to this knowing what you’re getting in to. So help me understand what this is all about.
What exactly are you trying to say and if you can convince me then maybe there is hope afterall.
Thank you! You have said exactly what I was thinking and what recently, my husband (a non-teacher) has recently argued with a colleague on our behalf.
I worked 15 years as a homeowners claims adjuster (also an under appreciated job) before pursuing my true love of teaching. I worked hard and sometimes I brought my work home. Occasionally I even worked really long hours when basements flooded due to excessive rain or there was a wind storm etc. I was reasonably well paid in my role – in fact when I worked 3 days a week when my children were young, I made about the same as I made working full time as a starting teacher. I sometimes brought my work home but honestly, if it didn’t get done that night, it had only a minor impact on my work life. I got 3 weeks vacation a year and did I want more? Of course, but would I burn out and want to leave the profession if I didn’t have more? No!
I am in my 7th year of teaching and I do believe I’ve seen most exceptionalities in my classrooms, most years with several all at once. What doctor, dentist, lawyer, or any professional for that matter would be willing to deal with 20-30 clients at once, all with different needs? I think us and Early Childhood Educators are the only professions I can think of that deal with such a range of children – “your” children. And we care for them and love them like our own (I teach Kindergarten or Grade 1 by the way). No matter how challenging a group, I think of each student as “my baby” and do everything I can to give them the skills to be good citizens – not an easy task with 3 & 4 year olds but one worth pursuing. My goal is for them to love learning and come to school every day – and I hope I do a good job of that. It would kill me to withdraw services from them or worse yet, to strike and not be with them at all. Taking away that consistency would be so detrimental. But I will support my profession and do what it takes to make the government, the media and the public see our worth.
I had a grandma last year who picked up her grandson every school day last year. She watched me herding 20 (busy) Kindergarten kids to the bus each day, trying to ensure they followed the school rule of no talking in the hall and that they walked in a straight line and no one got lost – all without any other adult to help and she would constantly say to me “Kelly, I don’t know how much you get paid, but it’s NOT enough”. Thank you grandma for seeing and understanding – I hope you pass on the message!
I challenge Mr. McGuinty or Ms Broten or anyone else who criticizes teachers to spend even a week in schools. Not just observing but actually participating in the day in, day out activities – planning, supervising, working at home at night. Walk a mile in our shoes and then see if you feel the same way.
Thank you for a great post. I will tweet far and wide and put it on facebook too. Well said!
I agree with all of your ideas here, as a teacher myself I feel the same. I do take offense though to your comment about Catholic teachers picking their battles because I work for the Catholic system and want you to know, we as teachers and even our regional union presidents had NO say in the MOU that was signed. That was our head president and the secretary signing away all of our rights and opinions without our knowledge. This piece needs to be clarified.
Thank you for this, Sarah, you’re right. My apologies; I didn’t mean to offend or incriminate, just point out the different positions our unions were in from a bargaining perspective. In which case, obviously, I should have made clear that it was a union decision to “settle”. As all union members know, we have to go with what the negotiators do on our behalf, whether we would do the same personally or not. This must have been a frustrating decision for many of your numbers. (And now it looks like the rest of us will be legislated into the same agreement anyway… sigh.)
Anyone who thinks teaching is easy should spend a day volunteering in a classroom, or on a field trip. It will make you aware of the saintly patience, creativity, and devotion teachers have. Sometimes it’s hard for me to manage with 2 kids. Teachers have 20 to manage, while they’re teaching them. And they generally do it without yelling, using many occasions to build up their students’ self-esteem, convincing students that they are capable of far more than they believe. People don’t understand how I do my job as a social worker. A few hours in a classroom leaves me exhausted, feeling impatient and overwhelmed. Definitely feeling respectful of the fantastic individuals who do so much for my children.
Thank you for posting this!! Im spreading this al over facebook, and already have friends forwarding it to their friends. I hope the public is more educated from this; I think it clarfies A LOT of issues 🙂 Thanks again!
ps- doesn’t hurt to be loved by Matt Damon 😉
sorry for all my type-o’s!
Great article! Can I add to why we always get sick? It might also have something to do with custodial cut backs. For my 1500 square foot kindergarten room, which contains 6 tables, 30 chairs, 2 large carpets, 2 garbage cans, 3 sinks and a toilet, my custodian is alloted exactly 23 minutes. TWENTY THREE MINUTES. To clean, sweep, vacuum, dust, and sanitize everything. And I’m not allowed to bring in common household cleaning supplies (such as dish soap or lysol wipes) to help pick up the slack. Amazed I don’t get sick more than the 5 or 6 times a year I do. Taking away my sick days is a huge pay cut, cause I’ll still have to be home sick even if I don’t get paid.
Cry me a river. No job is so stressful that you need all summer off. As for mental health days – not many in the private sector have those. It seems like those in your profession have no idea how little sympathy that the average Canadian has for you. Every job has its issues. No one is interested in listening to your profession whine about how hard you have it.
No one is interested… so with all due respect, BOB, what are you doing here?
(Just to clear this up, since I fear I have confused you: there are no designated mental health days. I used a couple of sick days for the purpose after my second son was stillborn, having decided against taking the pregnancy-related leave of absence.)
wow! i am not a teacher but totally appreciat eall the HARD work, long hours, blood sweat and tears my teachers have put into my education as well as the teachers who are just starting their journey with my young children! this brought tears to my eyes… thank you!!!
Well said but confused what is your point.. You are happy to take a pay freeze, and admit 20 days is a lot, so much so you never take them all. You appreciate your holidays, and love your job. So what exactly are you, your unions and other teachers looking for in your new contract??
The chance to negotiate properly, on a Board-by-Board basis, would be appreciated. The government has not allowed for genuine discussion and negotiation to take place at all (though it is needed, because there is a lot more to contracts and working conditions than what the general public knows or cares about). And less name-calling and blame-laying would be awesome… too bad that can’t be put into the contract.
Fred, I will leave Dilovely to defend herself and her opinions (which I think she has already done), but I just wanted to comment on your idea that teachers are, in essence, failures. Most of the teachers I know could have had massively successful careers in whatever they specialized in but we CHOSE teaching, because of many reasons, for example the love of learning, the joy of working with young people, the ability to exert a positive influence on the next generation etc. It’s a bit insulting to say that teachers are failed anything because to fail at something you need to try it. I never tried to be anything other than a teacher (well I was a grocery store cashier in university, but that is another story.) I spent my youth pursuing the skills that would make me a good teacher, by doing things like camp counselling, working with kids in the community, teaching classes for parks & rec, and even baby-sitting. Like all young people with an interest, I poked away at it, tried it in various contexts and realized it truly made me happy. Now that I look back, even though I did specialize in my undergrad, in something I found interesting (doesn’t matter what it was, and yes, I do use those skills now), it was really just my ticket to teachers’ college. I think the same probably holds true for others. I chose this career, not because I couldn’t do something else, but because I really wanted to be an educator, and now, 25 years later, even though folks like you think I’m a failure, I’m so glad I did. I’ve had amazing opportunities to grow and learn and specialize in things I never thought I could do. It’s truly been a rewarding career.
This is a great article! I had a great chuckle when reading Fred’s postings. The guy is a publisher, but he had difficulty understanding the purpose of the article?! I stopped counting after the first dozen grammatical errors! I hope he hires good editors. Of course, I was one of his failures – for 30 years – so he can easily dismiss my observations.
Fred: Several of my colleagues left their professions as: engineers, lawyers and nurses to become teachers. They did not fail at engineering, nursing or law, but rather, chose to follow their heart and their passion to inspire others to love learning and to love their subject matter. Shame on you for assuming teachers are failures. What a sad spirit you must have.
Thank you for writing this…I just posted it on my FB wall. I think people lose sight of the fact that we are raising their children! We are responsible for the future…not the parents who are busy working their own jobs. You’d think they’d realize this and give the credit where credit is due…and stop the bad mouthing…because in the end, even though we absolutely love our jobs (and no, I’m not a failed scientist, my science degree was the vehicle to get me to teaching), we can only take so much before it starts affecting your children.
Love you, love your blog! But you already knew that 😀 Look out world, here comes Di!
Love you too, Krista! 🙂 Thanks for doing what you do for us, especially at times like these…
Great post! As a teacher in Ontario, your words made me feel much better. So did the by-election results in Kitchener-Waterloo tonight.
Dan – yes, me too!
Also, as far as OECTA settling, we weren’t informed…I suspect it was partially our turn to go up to bat and partially the funding issue.
I agree with most everything you said, that is until you described us catholic teachers. Be sure you get your facts straight before painting us with your “pick your battles” brush. Not a single catholic teacher voted for the agreement. We were all in the dark our union signed the deal not us. I don’t appreciate the term pick your battles. It’s funny you don’t like people assuming things about you but you had no problem posting your assumption on all Catholic teachers. Thanks
Thanks, John, Sarah has also pointed this out. I will clarify that this was a union decision… I actually don’t make this assumption about all Catholic teachers (I worked in a Catholic school for a year and have great respect for those co-workers) but you’re right that it sounds that way in the post. Apologies.
I love these sites, and posts. Completely one sides. Very difficult to find an objective view of the whole scenario. Having come from a family where one parent was the head of a school district, having worked there in various support capacities myself, to numerous relatives and friends working as teachers, I would like to think I qualify for the role.
Wages – I am not going to say over paid, but certainly WELL paid. Average Ontario teacher brings in $75-80k a year for working 8.5 months (you can do the math to compare to a a 12 month a year career). Contrary to the blogger/auther, I have never heard a teach er say they are over paid.
Conditions – Teacher/Student relationships have changed significantly over the past 20 years, more so towards the difficult side, due to many restrictions enforced related to discipline measures.
This could be a long rant, but the point to be made here is….Does this profession deserve more recognition than any other – police, firefighter, pilot, electrician, new reporter, etc.? Should we bend and bow to their strong union rule?
Everyone appreciates a great teacher, but honestly, those are one in 10.
Thank you, Fred, for assuming to be the voice of the “public”. Just as an FYI, I am NOT a failure as a professional, and chose to teach to make a difference… to help students learn to learn and to question the world around them, just as you seem to be doing with this article. As a successful marketer and publisher, you must have sold things to people, so you are obviously a professional “seller”…and who helped you get to be so successful that you now feel yourself superior to the “failures” who taught you how to be successful.
Thanks for hammering home all the valid points that the original writer was trying to make via your trolling, disrespectful comments… by confirming in writing that people like you, (“sophisticated”, “successful professionals”?!?) just don’t seem to understand that today’s culture — a culture that clearly lacks respect for teachers because they are “merely” public servants and not members of competitive private industry — are somehow superior to teachers and can, with disregard for both the academic SUCCESS and the level of EXPERIENCE in a very difficult occupation, continue to berate teachers despite the fact that you are who and where you are in no small part due to the teaching that you, yourself received.
Oh, and despite your remarks, you’re welcome… and, at the same time, I’m sorry. Unfortunately for you, not everything you were taught seems to have stuck. Clearly your overall level of understanding and social skills never quite made the grade.
Thank you so much for publishing this article. I currently work at a local college, and I do have my teaching degree (along with several others as well).
I love teaching, and to inspire young children is something that is an unbelievable gift of a great teacher. For the government and some of the public to ridicule teachers and condemn them for their work ethic is disgusting.
There are a few comments that I would like to respond to as well. The first is directed at Chris, who said, “Thank freakin’ goodness for teachers! You give me back my sanity after two long months, and I know for a fact my kids feel the same.” I, and many other teachers thank you for that comment, and you also really helped reiterate the point that kids take a lot of work, and teachers deal with upwards of thirty kids every day.
As for the comments Fred has made. I am disturbed by your posts. Saying that a teacher is a failure is just ignorant. I went into teaching (as did many others) because I wanted to – not because I had failed somewhere else. I am not a failed author, or scientist, or athlete. I am a person who loves learning new things and wants to pass that pleasure on to the next generation. And I have to wonder how successful you are at publishing when you seem to have trouble being creative enough to use your own words, and instead you rely on old and tired cliches to attempt and make a point. Also, as a publisher, you may want to learn to edit your own writing for grammar errors (i.e. don’t not dont’).
But, I am off topic. I truly believe that good teachers deserve a lot more respect than they have been receiving and I hope we can all be proud of our profession, because we are professionals who deserve respect like any others.
I’m a nurse and like other health care sector employees in the province I have been on a wage freeze for over two years. That doesn’t mean I am not valued, it means there is a global financial crisis and Canadians are not exempt. Maybe the liberals are bad with a budget, but there isn’t a political party who has been at the helm of this province who has done any better. Not a pay cut, a wage freeze. I do not get to cash out my sick time at my retirement and I don’t think anybody should be able to, including teachers, police officers or any other group who manages to negotiate such a ridiculous benefit on a public salary. And while I truly support teachers and the amazing work they do, and I think the majority of you are worth every penny you are paid and more, you should suck it up like the rest of us. P.S. your classroom is NOT the most germ-infested place on earth, nor is it the place most laden with vomit and other bodily fluids expelled from other people’s children.
Hi, Just Sayin, thanks for your comment. I agree that all public sector workers do, necessarily, have to be part of the budget-tightening. (Thanks also, Marcy, for the reminder about health insurance at retirement.) And I’m sure you’re right, schools as a whole are not the most germ-(vomit, etc.-)infested places… one of the many reasons I truly admire those who work in health care and know I would not hold up well in your job at all. Part of my problem is that I happen to work in a school where the custodial staff is, to put it mildly, negligent (but unfireable). I believe that in most schools, the level of custodial cleanliness is much higher – and I assume/hope that’s true of your workplace too!
“Teaching is the greatest form of understanding”.
Jeremy, I’ve never heard that quotation before but it’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing it.
Thank you for your well-informed article and thank you to everyone who commented. I am a current teacher and feel very disenchanted and disenfranchised with the profession I have loved for over ten years. It’s at least inspirational to see that at least some people can see that teaching isn’t leeching.
Second, a colleague of mine brought an interesting fact about industry standards regarding people with similar levels of education as teachers. In business, our salary is at the low end and bonuses at the end of the year can start between 20 and 30 thousand dollars a year. That sounds like a pretty close number to the equivalent of two months “off”.
RE: Sarah who works in publishing
When you wrote, “Thank you so much for publishing this article. I currently work at a local college, and I do have my teaching degree (along with several others as well)”,
you seem to have an ambiguous parenthesis. Are the “several others” people that also have a teaching degree, or do you have several other degrees?
Sorry to nitpick. 🙂
In response to Fred, and this article, Taylor Mali on ‘What Teachers Make’
This is addressed to “Just Sayin'” The reason we earned the cash out for retirement was because we use the money to purchase health benefits after we retire. Unlike nurses and police officers, we no longer get any health insurance from our pension or our board when we retire.
Fred, you are a rude little man.
Well written although a couple I’d argue about but it’s frivolous. Bottom line, every time the members at the director/board/executive level talk, they just talk about how out of touch with reality they really are. They keep wanting teachers salaries to lower – how about the executive level salaries get talke about getting lowered. We never hear that option. I feel the pay scale is sufficient as it is. There is more waste of skin at the board level than at the teacher level that’s for sure. Teachers dont get any kind of incentive nor bonus for exceeding metrics/goals etc but its rampant up there while what goals they are require to meet is so ambiguous it seems more made up or made up on the fly. Another thing I rather the government cut the micro management of the class instruction and just provide an overall structure and let the teachers utilize their education to the fullest in delivering the content.
Jayson, I never thought of it that way, but it’s true that if you look at salary disclosure in Ontario, most of the people in education making the really big bucks are Board staff. And I very much agree with you about the micromanagement!
I am also a healthcare worker, part of a union, who has been in a wage freeze for over 2 years and it’s not looking good for the future. I have family who are teachers and I know how hard they work. The thing that really gets to me when I read this blog….everything you are complaining about is present in other people’s jobs…especially in mine. I work as part of a rehab team in a hospital (occupational therapy), and although I don’t have 30 kids to deal with, I do have a caseload of up to 15 patients who have suffered strokes, been in accidents of some kind, or suffer from some other kind of condition affecting their ability to live an independent life. With those 15 patients I also have to deal with their families…sometimes nice, sometimes the rudest people you will ever encounter. There are always flus and colds going around and I only have 5 sick “events” as they call them. (if I’m sick with the flu for 2 days, that counts as 1 event). There is a lot of paperwork in my job, a lot of meetings, a lot of extra time staying late at my computer because I am not allowed to take my work home, even if I wanted to. I simply want to say that teachers are not the only one with challenges in their profession, but they are the only ones who start off at a very impressive salary considering it is only for 10 months or so. They are also the only ones you constantly hear complaining about how bad they have it. I am new to my profession (graduated 4 years ago) and I am still only given 2 weeks vacation. After 4 years at the current hospital I work at, I will go up to 3. To get the amount of time off teachers have, I would have to be working at the same place for over 50 years.
I hope I’ve made somewhat of a point here…and I apologize for lack of grammar as I am typing this on my iPad and it is quite tedious to do so!
Dear Healthcare worker, thank you for your perspective, and bravo for doing the job that you do. Believe me, I hold health care workers in the highest esteem – and I know you have to deal with rude people at least as much as anyone else… (isn’t it amazing how much people can SUCK sometimes?) I did not mean to complain or imply whatsoever that teachers have the hardest job out there – not at all. (More that we’re an easy target for blame etc.) But I would argue that NOT everyone’s job is like yours, or mine. I did have other jobs before teaching, at which I worked hard, but they were not as draining – or as rewarding – as what I do now (or as what you do, I’m sure). It’s a shame that you have known so many teacher-complainers. But working in health care, you must know that nurses start out at basically the same salary as teachers, plus overtime? (and well-deserved, I might add.)
I do think the amount of vacation time you get is pretty barbaric. Two weeks is NOT enough.
Kim, Laura, Doreen, Sarah and Mark (and all other teachers)
In my opinion failure and trying is as good as success. But there is an even bigger issue that not a single one of you, other than Dilovely, caught on to and as ‘teachers’ you should really evaluate this.
Everyone is trying to make me out to be the bad guy because I’m using words that you only know how to interpret one way. I probably have hurt some of you and insulted some of you. But you’re teachers and that’s part of the job. Do you stop teaching a kid because he calls you a name, hurts your feelings or speaks out of turn? No, a good teacher would brush it off and help the bad kid. My comments were a challenge to swallow I admit but not a single one of you ‘teachers’ stepped up to the challenge of actually trying to help me.
No one has taken the time to say anything to try and help me understand what it is this article is trying to convey. Not a single one of you has written anything along the lines of “What can I help you understand Fred?” or “Your comments are unnecessary but you’re having trouble grasping this, here’s what we’re trying to tell the public about.”
Instead I get a tit-for-tat response. Doreen even insulted my grammar, questioning my authority as a publisher and she’s been a teacher for decades. But what’s really scary is not one of you acted like a teacher. You were all presented with a challenging set of harsh criticisms and then you swooped right down to my level.
The only person on here that I have faith in is Dilovely, she even titled her response “Dear Confused” to soften the atmosphere and then simply said what it is she wanted. She didn’t pander to my insults, she brushed them off and answered my question like a good teacher. It’s easy to teach kids who listen and don’t challenge you. It’s hard as hell to suck it up and teach the ones who really need teachers.
For the record, there are only 5 teachers in my entire academic career that I remember and these were the ones I gave the most crap to. But more importantly they didn’t shuffle me along to the next teacher, they stayed after school and helped me. They didn’t leave when the bell rung, their day ended when they knew that had taught me something.
Fred, it’s nice to know that you had some good teachers. From your comments, it was sounding like you didn’t. I don’t know if you regard them as such, but this comment shows that they were. (And for the record – NO teacher’s day ends when the bell rings.)
While I can understand your frustration with media and government painting all educators with the same brush, you must learn to accept that this is your unions fault. You acknowledge the small percentage of teachers that are lazy, selfish, and don’t even like children, but it is your union that protects these opportunists, and prevents them from being replaced by more enthusiastic graduates.
Secondly, while the Ontario Liberals have certainly been underhanded in their public and private wranglings with the unions, I have no sympathy because YOUR UNION GOT THEM ELECTED! Remember them telling you how to vote? Remember the mandatory donation from your paycheque? Remember the paid days out of the classroom to work on Liberal campaigns? Remember the millions of dollars of pro-McGuinty ads that were funded by your union dues?
McGuinty was a proven liar, bungler, and opportunist, and your union backed him more than any politician in Provincial history. So maybe your anger would be better directed at the people who got you in this mess, (your union), rather than with the rest of the public who are sick of living with the results of the teacher’s unions political interference.
Oh Jeff, it’s true… Having been told how to vote was – and is – an enormous source of frustration to many teachers, and looks particularly bad now. No denying. (I know I’m not alone in having ignored the advice and voting the way I wanted, though.) As for mandatory donations from paycheques and paid days off to work on campaigns… No, I do NOT remember those. Where are you getting this??
This article makes me laugh. I’m sure you are a wonderful teacher, but I have a few points to make about the rest of us in our cushy private sector jobs.
1. If we are sick, our work doesn’t get done. We have to come back to a mess. We don’t have a mop up. You deserve sick day, but to bank them is laughable.
2. $95K for a teacher is a ridiculous amount of money for a 8:30 to 3:30 job. We in the private sector are also educated, but our pay is based on merit, and how well we do the job, not our education level, and seniority. If we screw up, we get fired, not transfered to a new school with the same great pay and benefits. 3. Dealing with adults and the politics involved in the workplace is much more difficult than dealing with children. No matter your level in the real world someone out there wants your job and will do whatever it takes to get it. The kids will do what you say, and if they don’t send them to the pricipals office. The principals office in the real world is difficult conversations/decisions with adults with mortgages and children.
4. If I need to reorganize my department and get my desk in order, I do it at work or by working overtime, not with a P.A. day. My work always has to get done.
5. I conduct performance reviews on top of my duties and I don’t need a canned bunch of drivel to do it. The report card system is a joke. How about personalizing it?
6. What is wrong with taking a normal amount of vacation. 2 weeks certainly isn’t enough, but taking the summer is ridiculous. How about actually updating your skills, and preparing an enlighting and valuable schedule for your class the next year. I know dozens of teachers and most of them sleep in all summer or head to the cottage. Very few actually upgrade their skills.
7. Those who can’t, teach
Yes, Thomas, clearly you are laughing. You seem like a very jolly fellow. Thanks for conveniently outlining (almost) every wrongheaded assumption made by ignorant members of the public – you are a perfect resource for others who are determined to remain clueless.
Hey, you know, if your job is too hard and stressful (sounds like it might be)… you should try teaching.
I just wanted you to know that this teacher in BC feels the same way! I have been watching and listening to the Ontario issues and it is deja vu.
Just know that you are not alone!
At then end you comment on how Education Minister Laurel Broten was quoted as saying, “I really want to encourage our teachers to put the interests of the students that they have the privilege of teaching every single day first.” Now, I haven’t read any of the other feedback comments, but it prompts me to comment to government officials, “I really want to encourage all governemnt workers, both elected and appointed, to put the interests of the voters and taxpayers, and general population that they have the privilege of representing every single day, first.”
See, this is the issue…teachers don’t go around talking bad about nurses or police officers…but the reason teachers start “complaining” is because we are CONSTANTLY having to defend ourselves! If you think we have it so good, then go back to school and become a teacher…most people would say no way, not going to deal with kids all day. I don’t complain about nurses and police officers and their “perks”…those perks aren’t worth it to me to do that job. So please stop believing what the media and government tell you (by the way, my board hasn’t been able to cash out sick days since the 90s)…and start treating teachers with the respect they deserve and maybe, just maybe, you’d stop seeing blogs like this. The media and government keep putting the middle class against the middle class instead of going after those who are to blame for this mess! Most of us love out jobs…just let us do them and the defensiveness will end!
“Lisa MacLeod (Nepean—Carleton) said Wednesday “there already is a backlash” from the public and teachers themselves, who don’t like being told which political party to support or that their union dues are being used to create a war chest to defeat Hudak.
Members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association are paying $60 more in dues this year to create a $3-million war chest to help campaign against the Tories.”
Richard J. Brennan Toronto Star June 8, 2011
“District 12 of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation — representing Toronto District School Board high school teachers — offered members up to two paid days off during the next school year if they attend one of two training sessions put on by the NDP and the Liberals at the union local’s Bathurst St. headquarters and commit to campaigning for candidates for either of those parties in September.
Supply teachers to cover for the absent teachers would be paid for by the union. Under the union’s contract, teachers may be occasionally excused from work for union business, but the union must pay for their replacement.”
Moira MacDonald Toronto Sun June 7, 2011
Oh, and last time I checked, it wasn’t the teacher who decided that school would take a break for two months! It’s a perk of the job…if I add up the amount of times someone in the private sector “works from home”, takes a “business” lunch, leaves for an “appointment”, and doesn’t work evenings and weekends…I bet it’d add up quickly to two months “off”. Those are perks of your job, for which you probably get paid a heck of a lot more…two month “off” is our perk for a lot less money. Teachers are not complaining about our salaries…but everyone deserves a raise for a job well done. As a good teacher, is it my fault everyone, capable or not, gets a cost of living raise? No…but at the same time I shouldn’t be punished.
Yes we the public are ignorant of the plight of the poor teachers. These assumptions are not incorrect. I can’t honestly say that every teacher is this or that, but I can say that they have unprecedented job security, they are paid too much as a whole (a bad teacher at the top of the grade makes $95K just like the good teachers and that can’t be defended), and they get too much time off in the summer (what is wrong with going to work without the students there?). Instead of attacking me as a person, why not try making an argument as to why a completely incompetent buffoon will keep his/her job no matter how lazy and ineffective they are? Why not tell me why you need to have tax payers pay for you to be off for the whole summer?
For the record, I wasn’t complaining about my job. It just shows how out of touch teachers are with what happens in the real world. It is hard in the real world and if you aren’t made of tough stuff it will eat you up. That is the point I was making. That is something that teachers simply can’t wrap their heads around because at the end of the day they live in a fairly tale land of heading home after work in the mid afternoon, no weekends in the office, long summers off, and no fear of actually slipping up and losing their job.
I could never be a teacher, because my self worth and dignity is worth too much to me. I am proud to have drive and ambition and that is something that the teaching profession doesn’t reward or foster with the culture that is inherently built because of a Union mentality. I had a handful of really good teachers in school, but I also had so many that were sub-par or worse it is mind-boggling. I have a child just starting her journey and I can see the incompetence in the teachers just watching them trying to organize their class lists on the first day of school. It is sad.
You keep being on the defensive and talk about how hard you all work, and we the ingorant public will continue to laugh about you behind your back after you leave a party. Continue to hide out in the staff room to avoid actually having meaningful interaction with the students. While your at it, maybe you can continue to talk about how terrible every parent is a raising their kids. We don’t read with them, feed them, bathe them, love them, and you are all stuck in a room with a horde of unkempt barely human monsters. Make sure you get your gift from them at Christmas and at the end of the year though.
I’m not sure why you want to have a discussion about this when you obviously haven’t read the article. If you would counter that yes, you have read it, I’m afraid your comment demonstrates that your reading comprehension was close to nil. My best guess is that you thought the title sounded right on the money, were frustrated when it turned out to be used in irony, and shut off your critical thinking right there. (And when I say “critical thinking”, I’m talking about rational, open-minded reflection of the kind we teach in school; not the same as ranting or “criticism”.)
If your questions are in earnest (and I’m not sure they are), I’ll say that because you’re an adult, I shouldn’t have to repeat myself. The article addresses almost everything you mention: taxpayer dollars, work ethic, actual length of the work day, improvement of practice, meaningful interactions with students. I can’t help it if you ignored all that. I won’t disagree with your point about bad teachers, though; perhaps, if you are capable of empathy (not sure about this either), you can imagine how frustrating it is for hardworking teachers to work with lazy teachers who get paid the same or more and have basically infallible job security. But it’s like working with people who are gratuitously nasty: it happens, and we do our jobs anyway.
Since your self-worth is far too high for you to be caught dead in a classroom, I’m not sure how you presume to know what happens inside a school – what teachers do, what they talk about, what their ambitions are. (Although you say you know “dozens of teachers”, you are clearly not friends with them.) I don’t presume to know the conditions of your workplace; all I know for sure is that you are able to troll blogs that have nothing to do with you – or the “real world” – at 1 p.m. on a Friday. (I am pretty sure you are not on maternity leave, 8.5 months pregnant, as I am.) But I’m sure your job is very valuable in the grand scheme of things.
I am not saying this facetiously: you seem have some serious anger to work through. In my experience, people who bully others have usually suffered as victims themselves. This idea is only supported by the fact that you took my mild response as “attacking you as a person” when your tone is far more snide and insulting. In fact, your comment “we the ingorant public will continue to laugh about you behind your back after you leave a party” is so childish, I’m embarrassed for you.
You’d probably better take your daughter out of public school right away. Her teachers will undoubtedly endeavour to teach her compassion, respect, good listening, acceptance, and manners, which will be incompatible with your lifestyle. On the other hand, since you don’t see working with children as a valid pursuit, well… I’m not sure what other option you have. I feel bad for your daughter, though.
Just so you know, this is all the time I am going to spend on you for now. But by all means, let me know if you decide you’re ready for a productive discussion.
Please don’t waste your time on me by any means. You put an opinion on the web, and then cry foul and insult people personally if they have a strong but differing opinion. I am not saying that what I have said is nice, but it is how I feel. I tell teachers, some who are family exactly what I said here. Many will quietly agree that they have it really, really good. I like those teachers because they are honest.
Thank you so much for writing this. I truly hate the teacher bashing, too. It trickles down into secondary classrooms for sure. Why would students respect teachers when many of their parents don’t, and the media makes us out to be greedy and lazy?
We just hired a couple of new teachers and they are shocked at how much work it is. I don’t think trying to explain to people that we work 50 hours per week for 40 weeks instead of 40 hours per week for 50 weeks, is complaining. I love teaching, but it sure would be nice if people at least understood what the job entailed.
I’m only half way through but wanted to jump to add another update for OECTA…the union agreed to the contract, but as with other recent contracts, they have that wonderful little line that says they will get whatever else OTHER unions gets. So if we (ETFO in my case) get to keep our sicks days…so will they. Also…at least two OECTA boards (Halton and Peel if I recall) have voted against their union and the government proposal. Okay…back to read the rest.
Great job so far!
Amanda recently posted..Driver Introductions at Michigan International Speedway!
Nicely written. You said everything I don’t have the energy to write after the first week of school. It’s not often we get this, but a worker at the Goodwill complimented and gushed over me last week for being a teacher. She was so very thankful and grateful. She wished that everyone knew just how much of their own money teachers spend getting items for their classroom – I had a pile of books for my class. I thanked her and joked…that’s why I have to shop at the goodwill (I also bought myself a blouse) because I spend all of my money on my classroom. I was almost in tears when I left, but damn, I felt so very good, for the first time in weeks, maybe months, about being a teacher!
You picked a good year to be off! 😉
Amanda recently posted..Driver Introductions at Michigan International Speedway!
Amanda, I’m so glad you had that experience. I wish everyone could have those pick-me-ups. And you’re right… I didn’t plan it this way, per se, and it feels very weird not to be at school right now… but I guess it is nice not to be in the fray. 🙂
I have the wonderful treat of meeting parents like Thomas.
Thomas- please consider home schooling. You will do a much better job than I ever would with your child.
What teacher only starts the school day at 8:30 and ends it at 3:30? PA days to “Get stuff done?” Not likely, PA (PD actually) days are packed full of stuff we have to do, as mandated by the board (its usually cookie cutter crap of little value but we have to sit there and do it anyway, I’d LOVE to use that time to plan, prep, mark or clean my desk, or better yet, improve my teaching skills, but I’m not ALLOWED to)I also completely disagree with banking sick days for a pay out (under my contract i am not allowed to do this, older teachers, yes, but not those who started with me and after). I truly love what I do, and yes I know of enough teachers on the job, where I wouldn’t put my kid in their class for 10 seconds, but ALL jobs have people who shouldn’t be working there. As for meaning in a blog? well, a blog is a blog is a blog, meaning is what YOU take away from such things. No my job is not more important than a police officer or nurse (mom was an ER nurse for over 30 years). This fight is not about pay, nor is it about bankable sick days, it is about the freedom to negotiate a contract. The “tax payers” argument is always fun – I am a tax payer so I pay myself to go to work, woohoo! Tired of the bashing, tired of the bullshit. If you think my job is so damn easy, come on out and try it for a month, not a day, a month, not a field trip, not a guest speaker engagement, come on out and prep with me, plan, organize, make the phone calls to parents, have a kid tell you their dad beats them, have a kid tell you that they are gay and their parents threw them out of the house, mark papers, coach teams, run extra help sessions, c’mon out and see it for yourself. You might be rather stunned at the time we spend and the energy it takes to do well – better yet, you might find out why we enjoy it so much, despite the haters, the bashers and the bullshit artists. Thanks for listening to some random thoughts, don’t look for “meaning”, I’m just putting some thoughts out there for others to have a look at and ponder over.
I am currently attending the Faculty of Education to become one of those “greedy, lazy” teachers. Not because I failed at something else. I was/am and Educational Assistant. (I’d love to see what the criticizers of teachers will make of that). I have had success with the students I have assisted and have had incredibly good relationships with the teachers I worked beside. I am choosing to “upgrade” my skills, by choice, not necessity.
I shared this blog post on my facebook page because I believe in the sentiments expressed. Does this mean that I don’t think they could apply to other professions? Absolutely not! I believe that no matter how much one loves their job (any job) there are times when they think things could be better. Does that make them 100% right? Again… Absolutely not! However, we are protected by a Right to Free Speech and our own opinions.
So….. Good job Dilovely for saying the things others can’t/won’t. Thank you for stimulating a great discussion. Fred/Thomas, if you need help understanding the points in the original blog, or my post, please let me know since accomodating and modifying are what I do for a living!
One more thing. My union tells me how to vote too. I don’t necessarily listen either.
Thank you so much. Any open-minded people who read this will have a better understanding of what it is like to be a teacher. Fred…..??????????
I truly enjoyed reading your blog.
My wife is a good friend of your cousin and she passed on the link. I subscribed immediately and will share with all of my Facebook friends. My colleagues in the teaching profession will love it too I bet.
Your words are genuine, honest and meaningful.
Thank YOU for sharing!
Thanks for your words, and for subscribing, Greg! Welcome. 🙂 (Now trying to figure out which cousin…)
@ Fred… My sincere apologies for not asking if I could help you. I am more than willing to help you or anyone else who truly seeks knowledge and the ability to understand and apply it. I’m here for anyone who doesn’t understand the REAL situation (not the union “spin”, nor the goverment “propaganda”…the TRUTH that falls somewhere in the middle) and the reason for our frustration, Fred. What questions would you like answered? In my original response, (admittedly coloured as it was by your provocative language), I (defensively?)tried to elucidate the mistakes that you (and others) make as common assumptions of my role as a teacher… and despite the clarity of the original blog post, “educated” adults continue to make them. We find that such assumptions, without actually researching the situation and/or asking questions and hearing the answers given before passing judgment, disrespectful.
Since you’ve asked for help, though, I am happy to respond to ask you exactly what questions you may still have. How can I, as a teacher, help you, as an adult member of the public who is honestly seeking truth and information, understand the issue more clearly?
For the record, I would like to answer the criticisms that I’ve read since my first reply. This is NOT defensive…it is intended to be instructive. Having the facts at hand is key to understanding.
I DO work after June 30th during the summer. I am usually in the school for 6 to 8 hours each day for the first week of July and the last two weeks of August. In July, I stay to clean up the classroom (beyond the duties of the custodian, there is always “end of year” cleanup to be done)including culling materials that are out of date for the “current” curriculum standards and Ministry prescribed teachihg methods which change frequently, and then back for the last two weeks of August to get the classroom ready for the next set of students I teach with new materials that I either purchase out of pocket or am expected to create myself (something that most critics don’t realize or understand). That means my “summer off” is 5 weeks. As someone who is in his 26th year of teaching, I believe 5 weeks is comparable to the expectations of an equally experienced successful private sector worker…without the flexibility of scheduling them when travel prices are discounted or other family members who are NOT in education are able to take their holidays.
Disagree? Still find that this is “more holidays than anyone deserves”? Consider this…other professions (sales, law and the hospitality industry, for example – fields in which I do have experience working quite successfully) offer both more and/or less holidays, and better or worse remuneration (pay scales) depending on the occupation, the years of service, and of course the rate of success.
In teaching this “rate of success” salary model is known as “merit pay”, which has been tried unsuccessfully in the US. It is completely unrealistic to expect the same results when teaching children whose socio-economic standing (a key variable to educational “success”) affords them either every tool necessary for success or, conversely, challenges that make success at school extremely difficult. In layman’s terms, depending where a school is located, students are bound to be affected by this factor making the measure of “success rate” in education something that is impossible to plot on a level scale which would affect “bonuses” (rate of pay) or “tenure” (guaranteed contract length) of all teachers in every situation. So… merit pay cannot be successfully applied to education because it cannot apply equitably to all. Research in this area shows that the best teachers can work much harder than the worst and still not be able to “guarantee” better grades, depending on this variable.
Holidays differ, depending on the occupation you are in. You know this going into the occupation. Whether that matters to you or not (and for many it certainly seems to matter, based on the criticisms here) is up to you. For example, when considering a career as a restaurant and bar owner (been there, done that), you know that very few holidays simply comes with the territory. To be successful in sales,(done that, too — medical supplies) you have to put in the time to serve, maintain and continually build upon client lists. Every occupation has it’s own set of expectations. We teach children that,if they work hard and apply their knowledge appropriately, they are able to do practically anything they put their mind to. Having said that, those who envy the holidays that teachers get are free to pursue the studies necessary to become a teacher…although I would caution against becoming a teacher if all you are after is time off… you won’t be a good one, and you’ll no doubt find it less than a satisfying career choice if that’s the only reason you choose to do it. To be good at it, you need to have an honest passion for helping children learn. If the “year-round” schooling model existed here, I would STILL choose to be a teacher. I don’t do it for the holidays…in fact, the public scorn around this issue is one of the actual drawbacks of doing what I truly love to do.
To those who don’t envy a teacher’s holidays but simply feel it is “too many” for any worker to expect, I would reply by suggesting that they research the “year round schooling” models in use in Finland or Switzerland, both of which are very successful. These models lay out “blocks” of vacation time throughout the year, rather than following the agrarian (farm based) model upon which our North American schools are based which gives teachers “the whole summer off”. What you will find is that the number of weeks designated is roughly the same, give or take a week.
What’s truly funny about this whole criticism is that most of the critics of holiday time in education have lived through the same schedule as students themselves. Whether it is one large block in the summer or several shorter breaks, holidays are a part of the educational system that is geared to benefit students (who NEED a break to refresh and return ready to learn) and their families, not simply time off for teachers.
To the person who needs some help understanding what PD days truly entail, I do NOT have the opportunity to “clean up my desk” or prepare my classroom on PD days…these are for system and local (Ministry driven) professional development meetings (uncatered, by the way) and hands-on activities to help us better serve students. There is no “free time” built in to PD days, they are full working days that are intended to help teachers themselves learn, understand and put new initiatives into action.
To those who call teaching a 9:00 to 3:30 job…I finish my days of TEACHING at 3:45, but my workday continues after the students vacate the building, often until after 8:00 pm, doing planning and preparation for the next morning…which usually starts at 8:00 am. That says nothing of the reporting aspect of the job, which usually entails at least 2 weeks per term (6 weeks per year) when I take records home and am up until well past midnight writing reports (not “canned comments”, but good, prescriptive evaluations) that are engineered to give parents a snapshot of their child’s learning and help the students to improve in weak areas. Good teachers (the majority, not the minority)rarely if ever work 9 – 3:30… that is merely when they are ACTIVELY TEACHING in front of students. During that time, there are no martini lunches with the clients, no rounds of golf or catered sales meetings; there is a 40 minute lunch, often interrupted by one of a plethora of needs of the students that cannot be ignored. My usual day is between 10 and 12 hours.
The standard entrance salary for new teachers in Ontario is in the low 30K range, not anywhere near the “55K” that someone has chosen to report here as an average. There are far more NEW teachers earning the lower range than those at the top of the grid. Admittedly, I earn more because I have two university degrees (Honours B.A. in Developmental/Educational Psychology and an L.L.B-Hons.)as well as two “Additional Qualifications Specialist” designations, each of which were earned over three consecutive Summers. Each Summer, I was at school for 4 weeks, 3 days a week, 6 hours a day (before assignments). So, after paying approximately $6000. out of pocket (each course is about $1000 bucks) and spending 6 years working throughout July to better my own education in order to serve students more effectively, I now hold a Specialist in Special Education and a Specialist in Early Years Education. I also have attained an M.Ed in Education while working full time and attending classes through night school twice weekly for three consecutive years (Summers included). Costs for this? Roughly 10 thousand dollars.
Please note that, while in the past (way back in the 1970’s) there was often a contractual bonus for having earned an M.Ed., at this time there is NO salary increase for having this extra educational credential. I did it to improve my knowledge and understanding of the field and improve my ability to teach using cutting edge modern methods, as expected by today’s Ministry (and parents. Finally, I’ve also attained my Early Childhood Education diploma, a two-year full-time OCAATS program …all at my own expense in order to be better prepared to help children learn.
Dealing with children is NOT much different than dealing with adults in the sense that they do NOT need to listen to the teacher if they choose (these days, not like when you went to school) and “sending them to the Principal’s office” is a thing of the past, as we are now expected to maintain discipline while the administrators are now “building managers” whose responsibilities almost completely preclude dealing with disciplinary issues (unless they are severe enough to include a call to the police). As a result of a general societal trend towards not having to take responsibilities for one’s own actions and lack of meaningful consequences (research the government’s initiatives to reduce incidences of failure at school, even when work is sub-par, handed in late or not at all), students have come to realize that teachers really can’t do anything to force the issue towards successfully doing what’s required…so many just don’t. And employers wonder why work ethic and skill sets have diminished… (it’s all those damned teachers’ fault)
The saying “those who can’t, teach” is, (as those who utter it are well aware), intentionally offensive. As a teacher who has had very successful pre-teaching careers in private industry, I take umbrage with it and would go further to say that it is my GOAL as a teacher to make my students as successful as possible…to the extent that they CAN do whatever they attempt to do BECAUSE of the experience-based teaching I have provided. If that means they are a prodigy who “CAN”, so much the better…that’s the whole idea. Bring out the best of every student and help them be as successful as they can possibly be. That is what we DO. As an example, I have taught long enough to have ex-students who are now very successful in their own professions. I take pride in their accomplishments, knowing that the building blocks of their success were, at least in part, due to my teaching of basic concepts that allowed them to progress and succeed. Am I a success in EVERY profession that my students have taken up? Of course not. But to imply that no teacher is a success unto themselves is as ludicrous as saying that “hockey coaches cannot play hockey, so they coach”. (I could cite several examples of great ex-players who have taken on the role of NHL coach). Wayne Gretzky didn’t become “the great one” by simply possessing more natural talent than any other player…his ability was enhanced by coaching to learn the game and hone his skills, just as teachers help students to uncover and make the most of their natural talents. As a boy, my high-school music teacher played with the Toronto Philharmonic…he could and DID play professionally…and I benefitted from his experience and teaching. The statement “those who can’t, teach” is not only erroneous, it is offensive (and intended as such by those who say it).
Thomas should respect and appreciate this, since this IS an honest reply that outlines things he obviously doesn’t see in most of the teachers he has encountered.
Fred, if you have any real questions that I can help answer through teaching (not defensive posturing but providing facts and direction), I’m more than willing to discuss them further.
Mark, if you ever start a blog… I would love to read it.
One thing that many people here are not realizing is that teachers don’t START their career at $50,000. That amount is for a full-time LTO and then contract teacher. A teacher starts out as an occasional teacher and if they work every job offered and drive from 5minutes to 1 hour for a half or full day of work, they can make about $20,000-$30,000 a year. They do not get paid for sick days or vacation days or get benefits or paid holidays(technically some money is on each pay as those things and is counted into my amount above).This last about 3-5 years currently. You may get a part-time LTO in the middle of the day so you can’t supply and have to live off of $15-20,000 just to add that experience to your resume. Then you can make $50,000 with a full-time LTO (but no benefits still at my board, some do have LTO benefits) for about 2-3 years. After this you pick up a .04 contract and drive an hour to work 1 hour every 10 days (but you do get .04% of benefits) and then supply the other 9, so you are back to making about $25-30,000. The next year you move schools and get a .25 contract, but now you can only supply mornings and don’t get as many calls and make $25,000. The next year you finally get 2 contracts for .50 and while you don’t get a lunch break to drive between your 2 jobs you are making $50,000 and getting benefits.
I have a few friends at another board and they get about $20-25,000 a year and there are very few LTO’s and contracts and movement is very, very slow so its about 10 years to get a full-time LTO (mostly due to decreased enrollment).
Of course, occasionally you hear of someone getting full-time contract after only 3 years because they have a needed skill like teaching instrumental music or speaking french.
In closing, teachers do not START at $50,000. Full-time (1.0) contract teachers start at $50,000, but it takes 8-11 years to get to that point.
Really good points, Melissa. Thanks for clarifying.
I love the article, but the comments are sad and so counter productive. Our world is a mean place, and so many of you just hammered that in. Shame on everyone– those who comment and those who feed into it. Being behind a computer screen makes people so tough. You wouldn’t imagine saying that to someone’s face.
As a teacher I see what happens day in and day out. I see the countless hours that I put in to ensure that my students have the best learning opportunities I can provide them. I see my life put on hold so that I can mark, plan, create meaningful report comment, improved my skill set (have taken 10 courses over the last two years, WHILE TEACHING FULL TIME– far from lazy), worked tirelessly (with a smile!) after class with students who would not listen to me during the lesson, and created relationships with parents- ensuring that they know their child is getting the best education they can get.
I am a teacher. I love my job. I am not in it because I failed at being something else. I am not in some fairy tale land where I think I am invincible and can do as I please because there are no consequences. I realize that I have a good job… but guess what. I *ucking worked for it. I’ve busted my tail for the last 6 years… and guess who it was for– kids. I want to be the best, so that they can have a brighter future.
I agree that as members of the public sector we need to be careful with how money is spent, but what about other areas? What about the government? Sure they “took” a “pay freeze” but JUST prior to doing that gave many a $17K bonus. Come on. Let’s be fair- everyone needs to mind their p’s and q’s. As teachers we realize that we are in tough times- we get it… we feel it too believe it or not.
I really hope we can stop arguing, and get back to reality. Things need to change, and that is evident: spending and perceptions. There are places to find wasted money that can be relocated, standardized testing being one– **dont worry everyone, with out testing we’d still be accountable. Teachers are evaluated regularly, a failing grade can result in a loss of job (if after assistance they have not improved). **
Lets just remember: Without teachers there would be no doctors, lawyers, or politicians. Every great person had someone teach them along the way – stop degrading and start appreciating.
Oh, standardized testing. There’s another point I wish people could understand – how UNPRODUCTIVE and money-wasting it is. Thanks for bringing it up, Amanda.
I don’t doubt teachers work hard. But they get paid well and I sure enjoyed seeing Facebook posts all summer long telling me what beach they were at with their kids. Or daily reports on their suntan. But I’d like to describe someone who has zero sympathy for you. My mom. She is the personal assistant (they used to be called secretary) for a V.P. at a major Canadian bank. At the end of her 40 year career next year she will finish with a salary in the mid 60’s. She has at most had 3 weeks off at any given point in said career and generally is at work at 7 a.m. and finishes at 6 before her commute to the ‘burbs from downtown Toronto. With the advent of smart phones and BlackBerry’s she can be in communication with her boss until 10 p.m and as early as 6. She has 6 ‘use it or lose it sick days’, which like some have described is a pain because there is just more work to catch up to if she is not able to do it from bed or a doctor’s office. She has no union to speak for her, is at the whim of her boss and deals with arrogant, egomaniacal executives daily who treat her as a lesser being. The right to strike? What’s that? Holy cow. Executive assistants with 40 years experience would be at the top of the grid, making $150,000 +.
So, please, teachers, realize that everyone deals with daily crap. Every occupation deals with daily crap. Teaching is only unique in that it deals with children. But we all have our customers. 3 months off is 3 months off. Whether you work at Tim Horton’s, Ford, or teach. A lot of people in any occupation would br glad to take heavy concessions to have 3 months off, salary prorated of course.
Question: Why don’t you take your P.A. days off in the summer? Why was there a P.A day on June 8th? Why was the “first day” of school a P.A. Day for the Catholic system? Was this union negotiated? Hmmm.
The reason pro athletes make millions is that their star power and performance makes the team more marketable and hence increases the earning potential of the team they play for. If teaching were a private sector only entity, salaries would go down yes at first.. But schools from secondary on down don’t have to compete for anything. Teachers don’t have to compete for anything other than getting their first full time job. It’s a communist system at its best. No matter how good you are, or bad, everyone makes about the same at about the same time. And it’s the union and crap teachers that make the good teachers look bad. In a private system the good teachers, like athletes would make $100+, as they attract tuition paying students that earn the privatized school more money. That’s the difference.
Anywau, I’m sorry you have to deal with bad press. I’m sorry you have 3 months off only to have to work 10 hours a day the rest of the year. I’m sorry the profession has had a 30% pay raise in the last 10 years only to have it frozen now. I’m sorry I didn’t get into teaching because I’ve had less vacation time in the last 10 years than you get in one summer. It’s like the Pope complaining he hasn’t had sex. But all other facets of his life are pretty good. Teachers have a tough job, sure. Just like most other people. But let’s face it. There are people who work harder, get paid less and get $hit on more than teachers that don’t have a union, that don’t get pay grids, that don’t get cost of living raises, don’t get more than 2 weeks off, but who also love their jobs. That’s why I have no sympathy for the what the unions are asking for on behalf of teachers.
Hi, Private sector,
Thanks for what appears to be a rational, fairly polite comment. I’m going to assume that you’re sincere. Just a few questions for you.
Why do you think I, and the other teachers reading/commenting, are asking for sympathy? In writing the article, I was not asking for sympathy whatsoever. But I do feel I have the right to point out that badmouthing teachers is mean and petty, and moreover, it hurts people who are trying hard to do a good job.
Do you think we are oblivious? Again, I did not write that teachers have the toughest job out there. OF COURSE we know that people deal with crap at their jobs all the time. Many of my loved ones have worked at jobs that serve the public, working very hard and getting paid WAY less than they are worth, dealing far too often with incredible rudeness from people who think it’s okay to be nasty to other human beings for no good reason. It frustrates me to no end that so many companies do not invest properly in good people who do good work.
Is this something you believe we should all aspire to? It sounds to me like your mom is worth far more than she is paid, and has not had nearly enough of a break at her job. Is that good? Are you saying your mom is a better person for suffering more at her work? I personally believe that we should be working for BETTER conditions throughout the work force, not aiming for or ennobling jobs that treat people as lesser beings. I’m glad that your mom has inspired you, and I sure hope she has loved her job all this time, because I think it is appalling that someone employed by a major Canadian bank could be paid so poorly for so much work. (Especially since I bet her boss is making a much nicer salary.)
Would you rather have a privatized school system like in the U.S.? Would you rather have the choice between paying through the nose for your children’s private education or sending your child to a public school where the socioeconomic dynamics and burned-out teachers make school dangerous and harder than it should have to be? Are you saying you believe in meritocracy?
A couple final points: I think you have misunderstood the teacher pay grid: it stops at 10 years. There are no more increases after that. There is no such thing as 150K or even 100K for teachers (Board employees, yes, but don’t get me started on that.) It’s not that I feel I need 150K a year – actually, I can’t imagine it – but I wouldn’t want you thinking, as some do, that you’re helping to fund salaries bigger than they are. Also, we aren’t negotiating because we are dissatisfied. We are negotiating (or would be, if allowed) because our contract has expired.
To Mark and others, thank you for writing so clearly and so well. I do hope that Fred, Thomas, BOB and a few others take the time to reread the original blog and the thoughtful comments by the many teachers. Until they have spent a month shadowing a teacher to learn what is really involved they don’t really have a valid basis for judgment. The chips some adults carry around on their shoulders very effectively prevent gaining a better and balanced understanding of the education system of the twenty-first century in Canada. There are so many other necessary tasks of which most parents and the general public are so unaware. Hats off to all those inspired and inspiring teachers.
Anyone who thinks that teaching is an 8:30-3:30 or some variation of those hours job is completely ignorant of the teaching profession and I invite them to shadow any dedicated teacher for a few months (preferably during report card time) to observe exactly what goes into the job.
I want to thank you for posting this – it’s perhaps the best thing I’ve read on the issues facing the the teaching profession at the moment.
It is quite impressive that you purchased a publishing company. Well done and I wish you great success. I do hope you hire some “well educated” Editors. After reading your response I believe you need them. I am so pleased to see you are so grateful to the teachers that educated you in your school years to support you to become such a successful businessman. It is unfortunate that yourself and other people on this board can’t be a bit more respectful to others. I not only educate young children but I also teach them manners such as respect. Especially “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Just curious, does your publishing company receive contracts for text books? Your initial response may make more sense to us failures.
Fred, seriously? You are worse than the government. I teach my class. I guide, mentor, and advise the other 600 students in my school. I have had years where students have pushed me, hit me, called me names you couldn’t repeat to your mother. And yes, I have always responded to my students (my students, dude) with kindness and patience, and a willingness to teach them better ways to communicate their feelings and their frustrations. That’s my JOB. That’s what I get PAID to do. I’m not your teacher. You are not a child. How dare you berate the people who responded to you for not being good teachers. How dare you?! Would you berate a lawyer in a coffee shop for not citing case law when ordering their coffee? Or a doctor up at her cottage for drinking a beer? No. You wouldn’t. No one would. Teachers are held to a ridiculous standard 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are people. And it’s not our job to teach YOU. Sheesh.
You mention your mom will make over 60k when she retires and teachers make more. I’m curious how much education she needed to be a secretary (used to just require typing skills) or receptionist? Both of my grandmothers had grade 12 to work as head secretary for Ford and at University and more recently I have seen receptiontists require 1-2 years of college. Teachers have 3 and 4 year university degrees, then a 1 year degree, then they need 5 courses (1 full year) if they had a 4 year degree or 10 courses (2 full years) if they had a 3 year degree, to reach the full pay. This means they have 6 years of university, and many have more but you don’t get a pay raise for more.
So, when comparing teachers pay it should be compared to other careers who require a masters. A teacher who only has a 3 year degree and never takes another course will stay in category 1 and never make it to category 4 – so even at retirement they may only make 60k. My sister worked at Tim Hortons for years during university and they have a hard job and deal with horrible bosses and horrible customers and get minimum wage, but they also require grade 12 or even less (yes, some have university degrees but they aren’t required) – but they aren’t comparable to teachers as they didn’t require the same 6 years of university.
In response to PD days – these are work days. I haven’t seen one on the first day of school, but I would assume they were doing training for something the board felt was important (teachers may not have felt it was important), but I think it makes sense to have PD days closer to the beginning of the year than the end, because this way teachers can apply that knowledge to their current class for the year, rather than a month or 2, or for next years class. It sounded like you thought PD days were for teachers to get a day off, if this was a big business this would be a board meeting where everyone listens to the boss (school board employees) or a presenter.
Interestingly, no one is complaining or asking for more. Contract negotiations are where 1 side asks for something resonable and more and the other side offers something resonable and frozen or a bit more. At this time they negotiate and each side accepts things the other wants – this time the other side offered less and when 1 side accepted some and turned down some the other side refused and said ALL demands had to be met. They now want to make it that teachers MUST accept ANY contract. If this becomes law then it will affect all government employees. The public loves nurses and doctors but as their contracts come up the government will name ridiculous pay cuts and they will be forced into them (luckily my mom’s work got their contract finalized after 2 years of wage freezes and no contract and the government asking for pay cuts so she should be good till retirement). Teacher’s contracts also state class sizes, which as nice as it is to have less kids so you can actually get to know each child, this is important to the kids to have a teacher who can focus on them and spend time with them individually, rather than have 30 kids in grade 1 or 40 kids in grade 6 (if you’ve been in a regular room with that many kids you know they don’t really fit that many desks, and portables can’t fit that many) so the teacher is unable to move between desks to help a child with their work.
Thank you for the lovely article, Dilovely.
To be honest, I feel sorry for all those people who readily critize teachers. I know from experience they must truly believe they know what it is like to be a teacher. Before I became one, I too, believed I knew how it would unfold once I was in the classroom. I mean, I had experience as a student so I must have SOME idea what it is like to be a teacher, right? Well WRONG!!! I am sorry to sound rude but people outside of the teaching profession have very little knowledge of what teachers do on a day-to-day basis. So please try to refrain from bashing my profession until you spend a day in my shoes. I must say, however, luckily being the recipient of so much negativity has taught me to refrain from talking about other professions in a similar fashion. Thank you for that.
Hi again! My wife Jen said that you would know which cousin of yours led us to this blog by saying that she (my wife) used to spend time at camp with both you and your cousin and doing something like “Shakespeare in the park?” I dunno where or when… It’s just what I was told 🙂
OMG! Hi Jen!! So nice to know you’re here – both of you! Thank you so much for reading.
Thank you, Dilovely, for this clear, well-written entry. I enjoyed reading it, and against my regular habits, I decided to read the comments in full as well. I went through a range of emotions reading down this entire page. It was enlightening, infuriating, educational, inspirational, and supportive on a personal level, in many cases. I am a new teacher, and the struggle to try and establish my position in the teaching community is exhausting and never-ending, it seems. But I love teaching, so very much, so I am willing to sacrifice my evenings and weekends to organize and plan for a new grade level every year or term. Getting shuffled around, the stress of not knowing whether I’ll have a job or not in the near future, or even waking up at 5am to be ready IF my phone rings to supply for someone that works an hour outside of my city is worth it to me. I will continue to improve myself by taking intensive education courses through the summer, while also working a banking job so that I can support myself, because unfortunately, I do NOT get paid throughout those two months off.
I love teaching. I will never give it up.
Most of us (the general public) don’t actually think that you’re lazy or greedy… just that you seem somewhat detached from the economic reality of everyone else around you.
Personally I’d support any government’s move to permanently limit your ability to strike because I just simply don’t want to be bothered with scrambling to find last-minute childcare accommodations for my kids whenever your union threatens to shut the schools down.
Could you please just find a way to fight for your (well deserved) rights and entitlements without negatively affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ontarian families?
@ Public Sector (and others who may feel that teachers unions are “asking for too much”)…
I would like to ask you what exactly you think the unions ARE asking for? This is a sincere question to you. What ARE our unions asking for?
This is NOT a battle over wages, nor is anyone expecting to “bank” sick days for future gain (which hasn’t been done for YEARS in many boards, anyway). For that matter, I fully expected concessions to benefit plans to be part of this contract as well. It’s not about MONEY items. We all ‘get it’ as far as an austerity budget goes, and that we have a good, solid job as teachers.
So, before you answer based on what you hear in the media, do some research into the proposed Bill 115. The information (not a contract proposal, really) from the Province in PDT talks is available as public record…although don’t just read the government side. Ask a teacher or teacher unionist to tell you what the union is ACTUALLY asking for. (Knowledge is power).
It is about DEMOCRACY vs. AUTOCRACY in collective bargaining. It is about heavy-handedness and untruths in reporting by our elected officials. It is about being told (by the government) what we will do and for how much, and for how long, with NO right to appeal the law as both unconstitutional and unfair. It is about a government trying to put themselves above the law.
And, it is about all of these things which, should this be allowed to happen to teachers and other unionized workers, will no doubt be coming to a private sector place of employment near you in the not too distant future. This government may well ask for (no, DEMAND) that small business owners fund more of their employees E.I. deductions, put unfair taxes on not only wages and benefits, but on company bonuses, too.
This fight isn’t about money, let’s make that quite clear for everyone reading this. This type of legislative practice is the wedge end of a slippery slope where our elected government’s use/abuse of authority is concerned, and teachers (those “greedy, lazy teachers”) are “whining” about it because it affects us all. Every taxpayer and working stiff in Ontario. We’re standing up against unfair practices, NOT to get a bigger slice of the pie during hard times. If you can’t see that (or don’t believe it), you’re in for a scary awakening as the government will henceforth have power to, on precident, continue to “tighten the belt” of the people who’ve elected them, while not applying the rules to themselves. The teachers unions (bad, bad unions) ARE asking the government to lead fairly and obey the rules…not create their own “new” set that gives them unlimited power whenever the “austerity card” suits them.
Sorry, I do realize that it’s “precedent”…that was a typo. Spare the flames on that one, please.
Thanks for the comment, Di…perhaps someday I will take up blogging, and I’ll let you know.
These days, however, I’m dealing with 32 registered FDK students (“32?!? But… I thought there was a ‘cap’ on Primary grades…especially for JK/SK” — think again, John Q. and Mary Public, and don’t believe everything you read in the news!), one of whom was ill (runny nose and coughing) from the get-go on Tuesday, and has been in school every day since. I’m now battling sneezing fits, a runny nose and a throat that feels somewhat akin to eating broken glass or hot asphalt.
So, why don’t I deserve to be treated with respect again, please? (It’s rhetorical, folks.)
I just have to ask, for clarity sake, if you believe that All-Day Kindergarten is a waste. I work in the education system and have seen what a positive, wonderful, advantage it is for many, many, children in my classroom. Behaviour problems being dealt with, or eliminated, and children reading at a Grade 2 level coming out of SK.
I dont think ‘teachers’ are being expected to provide ‘day care’ for anyone. But I am just curious if that was your implication or if I had misread it.
James, that’s a great question. I have only one year of direct experience with kindergarten so I don’t consider myself an expert on this, but having taught five different split JK/SK classes and spent a lot of time with K teachers, I have very mixed feelings about full-time kindergarten. I feel that many JKs, especially the 3-year-olds, begin school not ready for full-time. The days are long and some kids are wiped out, even with every other day instruction. Some are fine, of course, and some thrive, but part of me feels it’s more valuable at that age for kids to just be kids.
That being said, I’m not saying full-time kindergarten is a waste, nor that it’s actually “day care”. The K teachers I know do an amazing job and make the best of the kids’ abilities, no matter what the classroom situation. I used the term “day care” because I am certain that’s why the government has stuck to this plan, despite it being astronomically expensive and so many schools not being at all equipped for the change: because parents appreciate being able to replace day care with public school. It saves many parents quite a lot of money, so it has scored major brownie points with voters.
For the person who commented as a teacher stating that they “raise our children” I beg you to re-think this statement!! Are you serious? You think you raise our shildren because you are with them mon-fri 8:30-3:30?? You DO NOT raise out children – you teach them. Thank you.
ok, i really do not have time tonight (just home from being out of town) to read through all the comments — i only got about half-way — but felt i needed to get into the mix and respond a little bit to Fred and other criticizers.
first, i think criticism, even rudely done, at least offers a challenge, and an opportunity to think over what has been said and clarify what needs to be clarified, so even a poorly worded, discourteous, and ill-thought-out criticism such as Fred’s has some value, if not intrinsic merit.
i am not a teacher, by the way, but i am quite clear that teachers are not individuals who have failed at something else. that’s just a silly thing to say, Fred, so i won’t dignify it with further comment.
i’d like to clarify a few things: teachers don’t have a job that goes for a year and has 2 months’ vacation. they have a 10-month contract and 2 months in which they are not paid for a job which isn’t always guaranteed to be there when they get back, even if they get their 10-months’ pay prorated over 12 (this is relatively new, actually – teachers used to have to figure out how to prorate their own income and make it work – sounds easy, but isn’t). many, many teachers spend that “vacation” improving their skills, taking courses, etc, or teaching in some other capacity or setting.
and during those 10 intense months, it’s a rare teacher who doesn’t stay long and often after the students’ departure, and who doesn’t take work home to prepare or mark or evaluate or, or, or … evenings and weekends are often devoted to the classroom.
teachers are called upon to use an enormous amount of physical, emotional, and intellectual energy all the time: they face new challenges every day, have to spend top energy keeping track of students, their work, their circumstances, their problems, and so on. there are some other professions that have similar challenges, and we have heard from some social workers and health-care workers. but even those professionals (for whom i also have great respect) rarely have to be “on” for hours at a time with all those needs at once in their faces, without little breaks of doing something else between clients or patients: delivering the curriculum, juggling students’ personalities, managing the classroom, planning ahead and coping with crises, and so on.
so there are real differences with what teachers do compared to anyone else. anyone reading this blog has gained at least something from the teachers in her or his life (yes, there are the home-schooled exceptions, but they were still taught). not every teacher is stellar. nor is every student. (nor doctor, nurse, lawyer, social worker, engineer, bus driver, hairdresser…)
public (or Separate) classrooms are not the best setting for every student, but they are what our society has to offer, and they are pretty suitable for a pretty large majority. we haven’t found a better way yet. there are plenty of imperfections, but our only hope for betterment is if we continue to have dedicated, motivated teachers available as we figure out how to improve the system.
i’m not going to comment on the politics, union issues, contract issues, etc, because others are more capable than i on these topics, but i wanted to make it clear that good teachers are valuable assets in our society and should not be bad-mouthed, underrated, or insulted. good grief, what about those overpaid CEOs who receive astronomical sums (more money than most of us would have any idea what to do with, certainly more than any individual family actually needs) for doing far less for the good of – anybody! the public for some inexplicable reason is not on their case all the time. yet whose child and whose future is going to receive a positive impact from their decision making and daily activity? we need to cherish our teachers and treat them well, and appreciate them, because they are doing the most important job in the world. whatever else children grow up to become, it starts with their childhood learning.
Welcome to my world last year in BC. I have felt everything that you have described and it took a huge toll on my health because I DO think of kids first. This is all about money and the fact that the politicians that we elect can’t seem to manage it properly (atleast out here!) I’d like to know how they (the government) are thinking of kids first when they want to increase the class sizes in schools? Each kid will get less face time with the teacher and more kids will fall through the cracks because of it.
Wishing you all well and hope you remain united in your union – because that will be your downfall if you don’t.
PS – your government is trying to get rid of your union and will enforce laws that are so undemocratic like ours did…. do NOT allow them to make you an Essential service!
Wow! So many things I’d like to say to some of the people who have such a horrible opinion or dislike for teachers and what this blog was all about. I for one, work in the private sector. Have a few family members who are teachers, great ones might I add, and i also have a few friends in the teaching profession. Although I do not own the intellectual knowledge and higher education merits to debate with people like Fred and Thomas and others like them…. Let me put it in my own words. I hope your kids receive much more compassion, respect, knowledge and kindness from their teachers, than you’ve shown to the teachers’ in this blog.
I don’t get 2 months off, but yet again, nor do teachers. You are petty and ignorant to say they do.
Although i admit,i am a tiny bit envious at times…
But my envy is quickly dissipated come September, and I am reminded of how shitty a teaching job can be, when one doesn’t have any authority, gets shit on by ignorant and sometimes idiotic parents, ends up paying out of their own pocket for classroom materials and who work 10-12 days just to keep up.
I do however have a small hate-on for unions. Not all unions, but many.
I’ve heard and seen enough examples of unions who do no good for the cause of their followers, and are the cause for many irreparable damages in the economical world that make it hard for me to support any of them, even teachers’ unions.
When i see autoworkers making $25-35 an hour to hold up a tool and screw parts together….PLEASE!
I saw a large factory that produced semi-trucks, right here in Canada, close up shop, because the union wanted large raises and more benefits when the company was struggling to survive…so what happened? the factory closed, and all those over paid jobs went south…Way to go Unions!
But todays’ blog isn’t about unions, it’s about teachers, and what they are fighting for.
You’ve got my support. I tip my hat off to all of you.
You are great.
While I am not a teacher, I have worked in the high school system in Ontario as a counsellor/youth worker for 8 years (and left last year). I admit to a love/hate relationship with teachers. I have a great many close friends who are teachers and wonderful teachers at that. I have also worked with a great many of horrible teachers-those who kick kids out of their class when they dont want to deal with them, teachers that are too lazy to try to implement behaviour intervention plans-out of sight, out of mind is much easier than having to put in ANY effort. Teachers that lack empathy for students other issues, teachers that want a youth worker (or EA) in their class to simply deal with any behaviours that THEY dont want to deal with, teachers that spend their time in the staff room belittling, name calling, insulting, making fun of students. This in particular makes me angry.
My main frustration is the unions that make it sooo difficult to get rid of teachers. They continuously protect the poor performance, lack of skills, inapporpriateness and yes, laziness of those indiviudals. Seems like to you need to assualt or sleep with a student in order to lose your job!
Love the blog; would love to have future blog posts sent to me at my email address.
Thank you, Lisa! I’ve signed you up.
What an interesting post. I am often puzzled when people think that the teachers they know personally are excellent teachers and the “horrible” ones are always the ones they don’t know personally.
One of the most difficult things to get parents and other adults (in this case youth worker) to understand is that a teacher is usually dealing with 25 or more students in a group. The parent’s child or the youth worker’s client is NOT the only student in the room.
When I kick a student out of class it is because they are disrupting the class and affecting the learning of everyone else in the room. They don’t have the right to do that. The other students have a right to an education. If a student cannot learn to work in a regular classroom, there are plenty of alternative programs that might suit them better.
I have five rows in my classroom. When I have a remedial class, it is not uncommon for almost every student in the class to have an IEP. Guess what every IEP requests? A seat at the front of the class. That is physically impossible for me to accomplish 🙂
I believe that the vast majority of teachers are compassionate human beings who are trying to do their very best. It is very likely that the teacher is not too lazy to implement your behavior plans, but rather that they are occupied with requests from all of the other students in the class. I find it very disheartening that you really believe that those teachers should not be teaching. Thank goodness it is the principal who gets to decide, and not members of the general public. We simply cannot please everyone. For some students I am considered a wonderful teacher, for some adequate, and yes, there are probably some parents who think I shouldn’t be teaching. Judging someone’s teaching ability is far more complex than evaluating whether an employee is capable of waiting tables properly. Also, the problem is sometimes a placement. I believe I am more effective in Grade 12 than 9, but I am still assigned some Grade 9 classes.
I feel sorry for the other students in a class who must wonder why B gets special treatment. The teacher isn’t allowed to explain that it’s because B is transitioning back to school from jail, or that B is on medication for some disorder. The students are left to believe that for some reason, the teacher just happens to favour B. That makes running a classroom very difficult. The push in recent years to integrate all sorts of students into regular classrooms, students who,in the past would never have been in a regular classroom is incredibly stressful for the teacher and all of the students, including the student with special needs. It is simply not possible to do a good job of teaching when there is a vast range of abilities and diverse behaviors in a classroom. We are asking teachers to be too many things to too many different people.
Much has been said about Finland’s fabulous education system. I have a Finnish friend and she tells me that it is because the teacher is teaching a homogeneous group of students. It is easy to teach 30 students if they are all at grade level, all have parents who value education, and all grow up in similar home situations.
Let’s face it, the teaching profession has good and bad, just like any other occupation. The challenge for me, as someone who has also worked as a counsellor in the school system, is that negative teachers can have just a profound effect on student as a great teacher does-just at different ends of the spectrum. I have seen it go both ways. As someone in a high school, I also have teacher friends, some are great teachers, some are not great. I think what Jen was trying to say that some teachers don’t respond well to interventions to assist them. I have seen this first hand. Kicking a student out of class is necessary sometimes, for the greater good of the others in the class. The question is, what happens to that student. I have had teachers that simply tell them “to get out” or “go for a walk” with no follow up. Is it addressed later, are the parents notified, was the admin aware? Were there consequences for the behaviour because being kicked out is no consequence! What a great way for a troubled student to avoid work. I understand where the previous poster was referring to with “out of sight, out of mind”. If teachers had classes of grade level, appropriate behaviour, on task and motivated kids-wonderful, but that’s not the norm. (although I think that some forget this when they decide they want to be teachers). Sometimes teaching an academic level class is hugely different from teaching a locally developed class. And yes, as someone mentioned, placement can play a role.
While I may be a counsellor, I also spend a great deal of time in the classroom assisting teachers implement my behaviour mod programs, re-directing, observing and making suggestions. Avoidance is a big tactic for many kids that don’t want to be in class-forgot my book, bathroom breaks etc. But there is a place for differential teaching and teachers need to be supported in this as it is the reality of teaching a class.
Some of these issues need to be addressed by admin. Depending on where you work, there may not be “plenty of alternate programs”. I do get frustrated when I am constantly getting called into a classroom to help a teacher with “classroom management” when they have not felt it was important to implement the behaviour mod program I designed. I can help give the tools but if you dont want to use them….
I walk into classes of pure chaos…no management whatsoever and into others where students are intimidated by the teacher who can yell and embarass students. There needs to be a happy medium and I know that this takes experience and learning but it NEEDS to happen-for the sake of the students!!!!
Ultimately, I think teachers get paid more than enough, considering contracts seem to keep coming out with more prep time and less coverage and supervision duty time. A pay freeze is about due. I know of one baord that moved PD to mid week rather than Fridays because the number of teachers that would call in sick on Friday PD days. I know summers are pro-rated pay cheques but lets not forget teachers are paid for 2 weeks off at Christmas and March break off.
Maybe Fred and Thomas could clear up my confusion, as highlighted below…
I’m really rather confused why you think teachers work 9-330 and have their full summers off? Have you actually talked to any professionals about what their job entails? I’m thinking not, or you wouldn’t think we have “PD days off” or “work 9-330”, as these are completely inaccurate facts that speak loudly to your uninformed opinion on this topic.
Most parents I know appreciate what I do for their kids, so this makes me wonder what makes you so bitter about the numerous highly intelligent, caring and creative professionals who choose to devote 50-60 hours a week to give your child the best possible public education they can receive.
I’m confused why you, as members of the public, would believe these inaccurate facts when I just spent half my summer in a professional development course, the other half doing professional reading and preparing and planning for the new school year? I did give myself ‘2 weeks off’ oh no! After spending 10 months with 22 children who have been abused, don’t speak english, can’t read, write or talk, have mental health issues, etc, pushing tooth and nail to help them understand difficult concepts and be better citizens, I think 2 weeks off is acceptable time to restore my sanity. If you can’t see the need for this, I feel very, very sad for you.
Evenings and weekends off, what’s this?! I just spent all day yesterday (Saturday) in my classroom, which I typically do each week (about 5-8 hrs Sat or Sun). Other teachers work from home or do their after hours work during the evenings, and believe it or not WE DO APPRECIATE THIS FLEXIBILITY. I typically arrive at 8am and leave at 5pm (other teachers leave at 345/4 but TAKE THEIR WORK HOME to do when their kids are in bed)…except of course during Sept (start up), June (shut down) and 3x a year during report card season, when I could be at work until as late as midnight personalizing your child’s reports so you can have some vague idea of how hard we are ALL working each day in our classrooms (teachers AND students) and how you can help support them at home. Just because cars aren’t in the lot, doesn’t mean thousands of teachers aren’t working each night – they are. I usually take a 15 min break to eat my lunch, and my other breaks are spent doing lunch or yard duty, meeting with other professionals to plan fun learning activities, field trips or discuss different ways to support students in our care, tutoring kids, keeping parents informed via calls or agendas, setting up or cleaning up from a lesson, responding to general kid drama, offering a listening ear for a child (or parent) having a problem at school, home, etc. What you must understand is that I HAVE NO PROBLEM DOING ANY OF THESE EXTRA TASKS because I love my job, my ‘kids’ (students) and many of my appreciative parents who really are trying their best. What confuses and saddens me is when people do not understand what we do each and every day. With the hours elementary school teachers and many other professionals work, I’m really, really confused what teacher you know that ‘works’ 9-330? I don’t know any of those teachers? I wonder when they mark, communicate with parents, lesson plan or write reports? Do they pay someone else to do their ‘after teaching hours’ work? I don’t think that’s possible b/c only it’s really only the teacher who knows the kids enough to perform these tasks. Do you see why I am confused, Fred and Thomas? Maybe you could help me see who these magical teachers are, that live in the fairytale dream land you describe, and how I can become one of them. Because right now, it’s great that I don’t have much time to spend my disposable income, since elementary school teachers spend thousands of dollars each year out of their own pocket on classroom supplies and courses – good thing, since we make ‘too much’ anyway. This also confuses me, since our salary is comparable to other university educated professionals. But since they don’t make a difference in the lives of tomorrow’s future, I guess they really should pay them more and us LESS 🙁 (please note sarcasm!)
FYI, Fred and Thomas: When everyone in the same position is saying the same thing, there is usually a very good reason. Just because you don’t see or understand the reasons, does not mean they don’t exist. Seek first to understand, then make your judgements. This is a social skill that might help you to be more empathetic (and well liked).
I’m always confused why people make these sweeping statements that have no real validity. I really do challenge you to spend one year in a certified teacher’s shoes and then come back and tell me we don’t deserve every penny we earn, and every day off recuperating from a high burn out job.
P.S. I need to add that I do my job because I love kids. I think I have a GREAT job (aside from the bashing of a few uninformed members of the public) and I appreciate the benefits and perks we do get. I think we are all lucky to live and teach in such a great country. But I do my job for the Noahs, and the Mohammeds and the Tyreses, and I truly believe most teachers do. I do not do it for perks. Let’s get real, we could make the same amount of money in a similarly educated profession if this was the case. Fellow educators, please don’t let the Freds get to you … You and many parents know you are shaping tomorrow’s future each and every day!
A person who works 50 weeks per year with 2 weeks paid vacation works 241 weekdays. Teachers are paid a yearly salary for 194 week days. We know this because if we need one unpaid day off, we are deducted 1/194th of our salary for that day! Not 1/241 th. All of the school holidays for students are actually times when teachers are unable to work ie. “laid off” without the ability to collect EI like other seasonal workers do.
Most teachers first realize this when EI calculations are done to determine maternity leave pay from EI. Perhaps male teachers don’t figure it out as this doesn’t happen to them.
Any teacher who works 50 hours per school week (and I think you would be very hard pressed to find any who work less), works 242 8-hour days, just the same as all of the people with 2 weeks of holidays.
Now, try and find me a teacher who does zero schoolwork during the unpaid times off when the school is closed to students.
I can honestly say that I truly feel ill every time we have an upcoming PD day because they are absolutely horrid. Do I call in sick? No. In fact, I have attended PD days when I WAS sick but didn’t want my colleagues to think I had bailed out on them. I would actually rather scrub toilets or ovens than go to school on a PD day. The ONLY part of the MOU that made me remotely happy was the unpaid non-attendance PD days. I would always rather be teaching than attending PD.
The boards preach that if your lesson isn’t engaging students then you need to change things, yet they don’t see that something is horribly wrong if professionals are calling in sick for the PD days they are presenting? Maybe they need to take some of their own advice! The best PD I have attended in my career were workshops I volunteered to go to, usually outside of my school, or the PD days organized and run by the Federation who actually asks for input about what we need to help us in our classrooms.
Loved your PS Grade 1 teacher. I always assume that people know that teachers love kids, but perhaps many don’t. It would not be possible to survive in the classroom if you didn’t love kids.
Thank you for your reply to my statement that teachers raise children. If you saw half of what I saw happen between parents and students, you would think the same. Perhaps I should have added “help” in my statement…that we help raise children. When I have parents asking me how they can be a better parent to their child, where they went wrong as a parent, what they should be doing at home, etc, etc, etc…then yes, I stand by my comment. When we are the ones that some children go to first with problems, when we are the ones who have to teach manners, and are the ones who often spend more time during the week with the child than the parent…yes, we are “helping” to raise your children. We are not just teachers of our subject matter…we often get called “Mom” or “Dad”, we dry tears and provide hugs, we mentor. Perhaps our definition of “raise” differs, but if you think we don’t play more of a role than just “teaching”, then I’m sorry to have offended you with my comment.
I wish there were more teachers like you. Unfortunately, our experience has been far too many who are not motivated or dedicated. The worst part about teacher contracts (in my opinion) is that no one EVER gets fired for being incompetent. So frustrating as a parent. If I had the bucks, I’d take my kids out of the public system so I could have them taught by teachers who are accountable for their actions. I have no doubt you are a very capable teacher, but I fear you are now in the minority. Way too many people want to be a teacher for the perks (good salary and A LOT of time off). The couple times we have had quality teachers, we have gone out of our way to thank them for their efforts. One of the unintended benefits of all this “teacher bashing” by the govt is that less people will want to enter the field for the wrong reasons.
Catherine, what a shame that you have had so many bad experiences! I wonder what are the demographics that cause that to happen, when in my experience I’ve honestly known very few bad teachers. I agree that it’s very frustrating – both as a teacher and as a parent – to see bad teachers in action, partly because they reinforce the negative stereotypes. It’s definitely one of those “the more you care about it, the harder it is” jobs, so the reverse is also true. Unfortunately, I don’t even know if the badmouthing particularly affects that kind of person who doesn’t give a crap in the first place…
I don’t think teachers are lazy or greedy and there is a lot of negative feelings about them and other government union employees. I would take all the bad for the perks that do come with the job though. I teach children with autism at a private clinic with no union. I get 10 sick days a year and three weeks of vacation during scheduled shut down weeks. While I’m responsible for less children than a traditional teacher I also get paid half the amount. Like a teacher I’m expected to use my own salary for craft supplies and create fun learning activities on my own unpaid time. On top of the academic subjects I have to teach my kids to wash and dress themselves, prepare food or change a sanitary napkin for our girls. I have been bitten, scratched, headbutt, dragged around by my hair and brought to the floor with kicks and punches (many of those happened while I was pregnant). I’ve been spit on in the face, peed on, pooped on, puked on and bled on.
Don’t get me wrong I love what I do, its wonderful and rewarding. I know many teachers who feel the same about their work. But you also have some really sweet perks from my point of view. Its probably a rare occurance for a teacher to come into contact with poop or have a 6 ft 250 lbs teen reach across your desk and drag you over it by your hair. I call that a day that ends in “y”.
I’m not trying to compete. I just want to give the teachers out there a little something to feel better about on the tough days 😉 Just think to yourselves “atleast none of the kids forced their hand (which they spent the last three hours licking) into my mouth”. And yes…that has happened to me.
Tamara, that sounds like a job that very few people would have the strength to do. Bravo to you for doing it, and for loving it.
(Speaking of poop… I had a little JK in my first week ever working with Ks who had an accident and came out of the bathroom with it all over his hands etc… and teachers are not actually allowed to deal with it. I helped him wash his hands, of course, but then we actually had to call his mom to do the rest, because I would be in trouble if I ever touched a student in such a way. Only EAs are allowed to go there, and that’s only with specific students. I even get a bit nervous when kids ask me to help them with their pants zippers etc. Not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing! Just such a contrast, since we’re not even really supposed to hug them.)
Tamara, whether you have a union or not, Canada has occupational health and safety laws to protect you. Have you ever called one of the government offices to ask for assistance? I’m very glad you didn’t lose your child when you were attacked while pregnant. I would not have continued to work in that situation when I was carrying a child.
I don’t spend any of my own money on supplies for my classroom and I sincerely wish that all of the teachers who do would stop. Let the parents see what is really provided. The funny thing is when they know you won’t buy the supplies they magically find money for them.
Astrid, I never really thought about it. Everyone who works on the front lines in the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis expects that they will have to deal with aggression from their clients. Its the nature of our job. Our kids have a lot of anxiety and very little impulse control and difficulty expressing their wants or needs (especially our non verbal kids). Coupled with the fact that we often represent having to work hard, sometimes they get frustrated at the task and lash out. Or sometimes its simply sensory. Some kids will bite everything in their environment and sometimes you’re the closest thing. I did refuse work with the bigger and most aggressive kids after an incident at work while 5 months pregnant and I work with an amazing team who really watch out for each other. We are also provided special training every year ob holds and blocks and how to release yourself from grabs, hair pulls, bites and choke holds.
I noticed yesterday that the teacher bashing in the news has really quieted down since the by-elections. I wonder if it will start up again with the passage of Bill 115 today?
Astrid, I sure hope not. I think we’ll feel bashed enough at that point. 🙁
As I have mentioned previously, I work as an EA in a school and am, therefore, part of a union. I have faced many of the same situations as Tamara. There have been countless meetings and plans put in place, but trust me when I say that these things still happen whether you want them to, or not, and the plans usually come after one, or more, incidents. Of course we do as much to prevent these situations as possible, but some of it just comes with the job.
Thank you for your very thorough and thoughtful post.
Very well said!!
Couldn’t say it any better if I tried.
Toooooooooooo much vacation time!
Keith – you do realize teachers don’t choose their breaks? The number of teaching days is defined by the Ministry and I will also tell you that Ontario students receive more instructional days than most students in the US. I won’t even start the whole subject of teachers working a good part of the summer anyways … Not getting into that now. Just want people to understand teachers DON’T CHOOSE VACTIONS!
Great blog post. Thank you. Would like to email you directly, but no address.
Anyway, all your well-stated comments aside, the root issue is money, and one point you mention is the all-day kindergarten, better referred to as subsidised daycare. For sure.
However, to put things in perspective, from the day the Government introduced this legislation on Monday, August 27 until yesterday, September 11 when it was passed AND received Royal Assent, the Government has paid in to the pockets of the private banking system $464 million in interest ($29 million per day) from the public accounts.
Quite ironically, that is nearly the same amount, $473 million, the government claims it will save by enacting this draconian bill. Just sayin’.
I consider this insulting bill an outright theft of our legitimately-earned, legally-binding wages and benefits by duly-negotiated labour collective agreements.
I figure if the Government can steal from us, why not from everyone else, including the bankers? Claw back the hundreds of billions of dollars paid in interest over the last four decades! Dictate the interest rate you’re willing to pay. Let’s say ZERO! What’s fair is fair, after all.
This is a very sad day for Ontario, 9/11, the day democracy died in this province, and the day education workers were raped and pillaged. If you think we’re the only ones, think again. Anyone with a “hate-on” for teachers, or, actually, everyone not an education worker: you’re next.
I’d like to say your blog post was very well written and thoughtful, excellent job.
My comment, however, is mainly in response to “Melissa,” who replied to “private sector” and claimed that a teacher with at least 6 years of university experience, or sometimes more, deserves the salary that he/she receives, or at least more than that of a secretary or receptionist, for example. I am a sessional lecturer at a university with 10 years of education and a PhD. By your logic, I should make almost twice as much as you. Let me tell you how these university “teachers,” that are never in the news, have it. There are 3 semesters in a school year. If I am lucky, a course that applies to my subject matter will be offered during each of those semesters. Every single time this course is offered, I am required to re-apply for it, even if I have already taught it. At most, a lecturer will teach 3 courses a year (without going completely crazy). These classes can generally have up to 65 students without requiring a teaching assistant. I could potentially have 195 students, and have to do all of the lectures, tutorials, office hours, email exchanges and marking on my own. I can never plan a proper vacation because I generally find out at the last minute if my course is running or not. I can never call in sick because there is absolutely no one to take over my classes. My paycheck is approximately $6,000 a course. IF I was able to teach 3 courses a semester, 3 times a year, at $6,000 a course, my salary would be $54,000 per year. This would be a good year. This would make me ecstatic. It has yet to happen. By the way, I have excellent teaching reviews and am published. I am considered an expert in my field, yet I cannot teach my subject matter in a high school, because I don’t have a teaching degree, yet a person with a 3 year degree in my subject can. I am also great with children. True, I may get tenure at some point, but as I hope all of you know, universities are increasingly hiring contract faculty to reduce their costs, yet tuition is going up. Melissa, your logic is flawed and doesn’t make sense in a real world where education does not always matter. Believe me, I do think this is unfortunate, because if that were the case, I would be making a lot more money. I could live in lala land, but I don’t. In reality, I simply do what I do because it is what I love.
That said, I think the problem with our education system is not with how much teachers are paid, but with who is doing the teaching. Those teachers that love what they do and are GOOD at it deserve exactly what they get, including myself. However, I have been through countless years of university, and countless friends, who proclaim they are going into teaching because it is a good way to get a decent salary with the added bonus of having summers off. If any of you can deny knowing these types of people, than you’re not being honest. As someone else mentioned, on countless occasions I go on Facebook and see teachers posting a status update or photo of their vacation, or cottage (by the way, half joking, how is it that every teacher seems to have a cottage?). When Dalton McGuinty pledged to increase teachers college to 2 years, potential teachers had a fit. Never mind the fact that a student with a subpar GPA can go abroad, get their teaching degree, and still come back here and teach? Why not put your tuition dollars into OUR education system, before being allowed to teach here? In addition, once you do get that job, your job status is amazingly secure. Did anyone see that Toronto Star article last year on teachers who committed questionable offenses but still retained their positions? Here is a link in case you’ve never seen it: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1062168–bad-teachers-ontario-s-secret-list. My point is that there needs to be a way to address these discrepancies in the system and ensure that, as in any other profession, only the most qualified candidates can become teachers and retain their positions. Unfortunately, this probably won’t happen until teachers’ unions cede some their power. In the meantime, you can’t really blame potential teachers, and current teachers, for taking advantage of this somewhat dysfunctional system.
One a side note, to “Thomas,” who wrote “those who can’t, teach.” What an incredibly cliché statement to make about a group of individuals who in addition to teaching, do a variety of different things to enrich their lives and communities, including running for office. Would you say the same thing to Barack Obama?
Teachers: I respect what you do, but when you can’t pay the bills something has got to give. I think you are well paid and have had it too good for too long. It is time realize that the average tax paying Canadian doesn’t want to continue funding your pay increases when you already make more individually than the average family income in Canada. I am sorry, my wife is a great teacher, would do anything for her students but when I hear her come home and talk about what teachers are saying at school it makes me want to put my kids in private school! I am tired of the “union spin” it is time to feel a bit of reality!
Prof: I’m shocked that you make that little. I always thought university profs made a lot more than elementary or highschool teachers.
I do believe that since your job REQUIRES you to have 10 years of university that you should be paid based on that- at least when having same employer – so all of us having the government as employer. Otherwise, it becomes hard to find people who want to get that much education when they can find a similar job with much less education. My goal was always to work with kids – first I was thinking CAS, then child psychologist, then went into teaching after my 4year degree when I decided the idea of writing another thesis was way too boring and not what I wanted. If I had realized how hard/long it would be for me to get a job and that I would still be trying at 33 years old, I would have choosen CYW or EA or ECE (not just for working in a school, as I would be just as happy in a group home, and I loved working in a daycare right after teacher’s college). Although, my career was going really well till I went on mat.leave for a year and now I’m back at the bottom, whereas I likely would have contract if I hadn’t had a baby (gotta love my job security).
I don’t get why so many people want everyone to start being paid less and get less sick days and benefits and everything? I don’t like the idea of a downward spiral and I worry about my children actually seeing value in a university education.
Teachers don’t have complete job security. Teachers must go through evaluation with their principal occasionally. If they don’t do well, then they go through extra training and work on getting that good review.
We have a magazine that comes from OCT and in the back they list teachers and what they did and what happened to them. Yes, sometimes it seems it wasn’t true or is a small issue so they don’t publish teachers name and either nothing happens or they go through a course at their expense. Sometimes, it is more serious so name is published and they have to take a course at their expense, and OCT is going to be paying close attention to them after that. Sometimes, it is very serious and they have their licence suspended (so they can’t teach for a year, unpaid) or revoked (so they can never teach in a publicly funded school again). I didn’t read the link yet, but will after. Ever since grade 5 I question when a teacher is charged with something. The most wonderful teacher moved to my school and a couple months in he met with parents and told them he had to move schools since he was under investigation for child sexual abuse – if found guilty he would lose his job. My dad knew of girl’s father and said he was not a good person but was highly influencial in the community. During court it finally came out that the dad had business dealing with the teacher and he wasn’t doing what dad wanted so dad convinced his daughter to say she was abused. The teacher was found not guilty. I’m not sure what happened to the dad as I was only 10 and just knew what my parents were telling me from following the trial. Not saying other teachers haven’t done horrible things, but just that I look at it critically and from reading OCT I know they look into each case and do their own “trial”.
I appreciate the dedication and hard work of teachers, as you have a very important and influential job. There will be great teachers and there will be terrible teachers as there are in every field of work. I resent when the government imposes rules and legislation on the working members of our country/province. I do not believe that high paid teachers, or any other high profession is to blame for the financial concerns of Ontario. I do believe that over paid government officials and their wasteful spending are to blame. I work in the health care system and I am well paid for the work that I do. I have two degrees, I have specialized training and I believe that I deserve my wage. I do not have the right to strike, I do not get sick days when my children are sick (I have to take LOA time), I do not get Mental Health or personal days, and I do not have any allotted sick time I am simply sick when I am sick and will be paid, provided it doesn’t happen more than 3 times per year…not very nice for someone that works in a hospital all day and is exposed to very sick people all day!…and Mr Premier froze my wages 3 years ago.
So what is my point?
I believe in paying for what you get, if we want exceptional teachers, then we need to pay them well, so I have no issue with teacher’s wages, sick time, holiday time, benefits or perks that may exist. I do not agree with the right to strike, as you have mentioned it does interfer with the school year, planning and advancement of academics. I was also unhappy to hear that the union is asking teachers to not participate in meetings or extra activties. I realize that coaching my daughter or son’s volleyball team is unpaid time, however we all need to volunteer for many activities to keep our communities going. Organizations (like hospitals), schools, community events all depend on volunteers to keep programs running. I am not sure what coaching my child’s team has to do with contract issues, and I would have a negative opinion of professionals that stomp their feet and cross their arms in protest. I agree that the government has no intentions of putting kids first, it’s all about money to them, but I am hopeful that teachers will continue to put kids first as they always have.
Heather, thank you for your comment. You address some very tricky issues – the right to strike and job actions such as “work to rule” are issues many teachers feel torn about. Most of my co-workers and I have never actually been on strike, because it happens very rarely. As I mentioned in the article, we would much rather just do our jobs, since we know more than anyone the value of continuity and putting children first on a daily basis. But, as my husband would mention at this point, “right to strike” was not something that was originally GIVEN by the government (let’s face it, what government wants its public sector to strike, ever?); originally, groups of labourers organized themselves into unions to make the point that their jobs are important and necessary (ie. if conditions are bad enough that we decide as a group to stop working, it’s problematic). That being said, striking is very much the LAST RESORT. Nobody is looking for it to happen.
As for withdrawing extra activities, it’s another one that is frustrating to teachers. Obviously, teachers do these activities in the first place because a) they want to and b) they know what it does for the kids. Right now, there is a gentle suggestion from the union to consider carefully if you want to continue such activities – it is far from a “work to rule” situation. Back in June, the gov’t requested/demanded that the union negotiate the new contract at the PDT, or “provincial discussion table”, instead of individually on a Board-by-Board basis (as is actually the policy and a preferable process because of the variety in the needs of different Boards). When the union realized the gov’t was not actually open to real negotiation, they wanted to return to negotiations with individual Boards – and the gov’t immediately began legislating. So the question becomes: if we are trying to avoid a strike, and we have been legislated into accepting contract terms without every having been given the chance to negotiate at Board level, what options do we have to express to the government “This is not okay”?
I love this article and I am a new subscriber to your blog. I got your name through a friend on facebook. I have graduated recently with a teaching degree and live in a small town in Ontario called Sarnia. I decided to go back to school after my youngest of three children was entering school. I wanted a career that was meaningful and different from the business world that I was used to. I feel that I was destined to teach. Since I was a young child many of my own teachers told me I would do something great with my life. I feel this is my something great (other than my children that is). Upsetting to me is that I cannot get a job in my field and have to get a job that starts paying. I have volunteered for 4 years going on 5 in the elementary schools in my area. As rewarding as that is to me I have to make money to make a living. I love the children who I help now. I had an interview for the supply list here and out of 700 people did not get a job. I also applied an hour away to 70 jobs and did not hear a thing. I do not want to give up this dream because I have worked hard for it over the last 4 years. What does this show to my own children if I give up: it is ok to give up on your dreams? If our government has its way I am afraid that is what is going to happen. I have worked hard on designing lesson plans, units for other teachers and taken courses during the summer to upgrade myself. I have spent much of my own money (as other teachers do)on supplies, items, rewards for students because I care that much about this profession. I feel that teachers are underpaid. If we have to be educated enough to teach children why shouldn’t there be compensation for that? I could talk about this for days, I just wish I could get a job in this field before it is too late:(
Jennifer, my heart goes out to you. Obviously, you are not alone in being a qualified (and sounds like very dedicated) teacher with no classroom. Unfortunately, nobody predicted the drop in birth rates, and therefore enrollment, that is presently at the heart of the problem of unemployment among teachers. I really hope the tides change for you soon… and if you have to take another job in the meantime, I hope that the many skills you’ve learned in the school setting can be helpful to you! Best wishes.
I would just like to point out, that most of the support for teachers comes from teachers. The rest of the world cannot and will not be with you on this. You make incredible money, get an enormous amount of time off and have a very rewarding job that YOU signed up for. I can count on two fingers the amount of teachers that actually made a difference in my life. That’s incredible considering I attended 10 schools in my adolescence. Us real world people don’t stand by you because we know how good you all actually have it. We wish you would see it too. Mcguinty picked his battle well, as much as i don’t like him. He politically masterminded this.
realworldperson, stand by us on what, exactly? This article is not a sympathy bid.
Husband: I think you completely have misunderstood what is happening. I’m surprised that with your wife being a teacher you haven’t understood what happened. NO ONE has asked to be paid more, there was no thought of a pay raise. There was talk of a pay freeze or a pay cut. I’m not sure where you got the idea that anyone was asking for a raise – we all know we are just starting to recover from a recession and no one expected a raise. The pay cut was being agreed to – that was not the issue. The issue was that the government wanted numerous things cut, not just pay, and the union agreed to the pay cut but not the other cuts and the government REFUSED TO NEGOTIATE at all. It was: take the contract your given or we’ll force you to take it.
I’m not sure what the average Canadian family income is, but this would include single moms on OW and single/couples with grade 12 working 2 minimum wage jobs (and my family income of around $25,000 a year, but I’ve only been in this field 7 years now). We aren’t comparing to that as they aren’t in the same category, because then what you are saying is that you feel ALL government employees should have pay cuts/freezes, which is what the government wants (except for the pay of those actually in government).
I don’t really think the government cares how much if any volunteer work teachers do, so I personally see no point in not having extra activities, and that it is only the kids who are affected by it. I get that the union feels they need to do something and this is all they have, but I don’t really believe it will make a difference – which is really depressing and as I’ve seen many say – democracy is dead.
realworldperson: you are completely correct!!! The government masterminded it well. They chose which employee the public would be least likely to get behind. It isn’t that teachers have it better or worse than other government employees, as they are pretty middle of the road. Now when they go after those that peeople care more about (nurses, police) they have precedent.
I don’t think anyone out there would say the government didn’t mastermind this start-up very well. They have done a great job on the groundwork and will probably do just as well with the rest of the follow-through over the next couple years. I’m just really sad to see what our province will look like at the end 🙁
Diblog. Not saying it was. Is it not to educate “everyone else” who is not a teacher on what you are fighting for? This is clearly a very huge issue. You have a say, do others as well?
realworldperson, the point is that most of us would rather not be fighting at all. We are just tired of being attacked. If you read the rest of the comments, you will see that yes, others do indeed have a say – some very similar to yours, about being in the “real world” etc. I’m sorry you have had so few good teachers in your life, and apparently come into contact with many complainers; that is a real tragedy.
Hmmm…lots to take in from the comments. I appreciate what you are saying and hope things work out with your union’s negotiations. Who wouldn’t fight for more when it comes to their job? You have my best wishes and empathy…but not my sympathy.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to listen to my teacher friends when they complain about their jobs and compensation because they are always there for me when I complain about my non-teacher job and compensation. I’ll also remind them and you(just like they do with me) that you can always quit your job if you aren’t happy.
The average family income, including everyone is $76,600 for 2+ people in a family, and $32,100 for a single, childless person. That was in 2010.
Not sure on stats for if we combine those numbers as I`m not sure how many people fit in each category. But if we look at the married couples and single parents which you were saying (family income) then the average teacher makes LESS than that amount. And will make even less later on since they will be going through pay cuts.
Best Wises: You missed the point when you said you wish teachers luck with union negotiations. There is NO SUCH THING!!! The unions are not allowed negotiations, they were given a contract. You miss the point that this isn`t about teachers, this is about 1. the right to negotiate, 2. all government employees and their contracts.
No one was fighting for more, the fight was between taking a little less or a lot less, and not about pay but about sick days which has been pointed out many places (not sure if here) will cost more since teachers will now use their sick days since they can`t hold on to them incase they get cancer or an illness when older, meaning many were never used. Now instead of using an average of 6, teachers will use all 10.
Melissa: I am confused. Is it about what the contract is offering to teachers(pay days as you’ve explained) or the right to negotiate? Or is it both.
Again, I appreciate and acknowledge your anger and frustration. However you still don’t have my sympathy.
The thing I don’t understand is why there is always the assumption that if a teacher defends their situation, their frustrations, etc that that means they are saying their job is harder then other jobs? I teach in Kuwait and I can tell you that it is NOT Ontario. I cannot claim to say it is harder but it is different and quitting after 2 days of teaching here after flying to the other side of the world with a lot of incentives is common. Me saying this does not make a teacher’s job in Ontario suddenly harder or easier its just me saying my situation is challenging and if I didn’t have the amount of vacation time I have (which is A LOT more then Canadian teachers and i am NEVER made to feel bad for using it) I don’t think id make it through. Saying this does not make me a bad teacher or human for that matter.
The thing that I think upsets teachers is just constantly being publicly bashed. There are very few professions out there where someone who is not educated in your field, does not do your job and has no real inside knowledge is allowed to essentially tell you off for not doing your job properly. Saying, “I am frustrated, I need help, I need support” does not mean the same thing as “my job is harder then yours give me more money and more vacation time”.
I just don’t understand why people blame teachers for decisions they have not made? Why is it my fault that I get vacation time and other careers don’t? Why should I feel bad for having this incredible perk in my chosen career? I mean this is one of the main sources of bitterness for non-teachers. I moved to the flipping Middle East because there are no jobs in my profession in Ontario. I get TONS of vacation time and a tax free salary but that doesn’t change the fact that i will be at work this weekend instead of relaxing. It doesn’t change the fact that i get up at midnight (on a work night) to be ready for real time chat sessions for my Master’s program (in education) which happens to be taking place at 5pm until 9pm Ontario time when I get up at 5am for work. It doesn’t change the fact that I travel 40 minutes each day on a bus to an actual Kuwaiti ghetto to a class that has too many students with too many learning ranges and a classroom filled with cockroaches and no support. Me saying these things does not suddenly mean anyone else’s job is easier or that they are less dedicated it just means that hey, my job is a lot harder then I thought it would be, I need a lot more support then I first thought and my guilt free vacations that I enjoy are needed. And that hey just like everyone else, I am allowed to bitch about my job. News flash – It isn’t ALWAYS rewarded. Sometimes its just straight up hard and discouraging, just like your job. Me having vacation time doesn’t mean I cant complain sometimes. I am sorry but it doesn’t.
I refuse to feel bad for my time off just because I am in a profession that offers it and you aren’t. I spent my summer in Europe, it was amazing. I will travel to 4 different countries in the next 9 months, I went to Sri Lanka for a week last year, I will spend a month in South Africa (volunteering in schools for fun) this February and a month and a half in Canada this summer – Paid! I am seeing the world. I chose a profession that is challenging and takes up all of my time when I am not on vacation. I went to school for this, am still in school for this, go to workshops for this, stress and cry and freak out worrying if my students are getting enough of what they need, and moved to the Middle East to attain a career in this field. I will enjoy my perks because I deserve them. I am good at my job and I work my ass off. If your job does not have these perks then that is really and truly too bad, I wish for you that it did. I am in a profession where the people I teach leave for several months of the year, therefore so do I. I think teaching is the only profession where this happens therefore its the only one with this kind of time off.
I am sorry if your job does not offer these perks or if it is challenging as I am sure it is. I am sorry if a bad teacher caused problems for you growing up (I had them too you know, really bad ones, I hated school) or if one is causing problems for your child now – this is not ok. I am sorry if your job is harder then teaching yet you get paid less. I am sorry if you have more education then I do yet don’t make as much or don’t get a lot of time off. I hope that this changes for you and improves, but it has nothing to do with teachers. This is the perk that comes with this specific career. I moved to the other side of the world, I live beside Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia, I gave up freedoms to be here (like walking down the street by myself), I left my family and my friends and I teach in some of the strangest situations that no teachers college could have prepared me for, but I get paid well and I get time off and I have earned these things. I wont feel bad for them nor should teachers in Canada. You also don’t pay my salary like you say you do for teachers in Canada (don’t they pay taxes too? I’m confused), technically my student’s parents do (they are always eager to hear about our vacations and trips and are upset when I say I stayed behind to work) so I get to happily say these things without having to justify them like Ontario teachers feel like they have to. I will probably never move back because as much as teaching internationally is insanely challenging it is better out here for us. I am not made to feel bad for enjoying the perks of my job just like no other person is made to feel bad as teachers are for enjoying the perks of their jobs in other professions of equal pay and value. Teachers in Ontario get paid a lot and have time off and they are STILL beaten down and burnt out. New teacher’s still leave the profession after the first few years. If teaching is so easy and so magical and so so so then why the hell are Canadian and American teachers so freaking exhausted? Being called a bunch of uneducated, ungrateful failures who don’t do their jobs properly could be one of the smaller nagging reasons but still don’t match the things that happen in the classroom that burn teachers out.
I am important, teaching is important, my students are important, my education is important, my past teachers (good AND bad) are important because they helped shape me, my vacations ARE important and NEEDED because my job IS hard and if you don’t understand this thats completely fine with me! You probably don’t get the Middle East either. Some things you just gotta do to get – teaching is one of those things.
Canadian teachers, I am feeling for ya over here. Now go enjoy your jobs and your lives and don’t let yourself get too beaten down by everything else. And enjoy your damn time off, stop apologizing for it!! I will be over here, working hard, struggling in ways you just wouldn’t be able to believe and seeing the world – just as my students do with their time off. Lucky us indeed!
Wow, Michelle! You are a brick to be doing what you’re doing, so far from home. Kudos!! And thanks for the support – I’m sure all of us who read your comment will be thinking of you too and wishing you the best.
I use to not understand why teachers were given such great benefits (comparatively) and I use to be one of those people that would complain about their pay, but then a friend pointed out that like doctors, nurses, etc. teachers are essential to function of society and keeping them happy is important to the welfare of our kids and their future. This I would have to agree is completely true. I would agree that we should appreciate teachers and what they do. Lowering their pay, taking away benefits or belittling their career isn’t beneficial to the education system as a whole.
What I don’t understand, I guess, is that you like to teach, but seem to use a lot of this article to complain about the “dirty kids” in the classroom. I guess what eerks people about teachers is they insist on telling us how bad they have it, versus how much they do. In this private sector you speak of, but don’t really seem to know a lot about you would never go into a job negotiation and say “I need more vacation because Joe that sits next to me is germy and gross. I want more pay because my boss is stressful.” No- you would talk about how you go above and beyond, how you do all these extra things to demonstrate your worth. That given the time, education and your dedication you are worth this much. .
There is no doubt that teachers should be treated well and paid the money they deserve, perhaps just go about arguing your point a little differently.
Secondly, I think teachers also receive a bad rap mainly because of articles like this, which seem to find the need to compare their positions. There is no point and this goes for people in the private sector too. I work in the media and I have an idea of what teachers do, because I went to school, but you have no idea what I do, because you probably never worked in the media. And guess what? That’s fine. It’s okay for teachers not to know and your salary shouldn’t be based on what I do versus what you do. Your salary is based on what you provide to society. Which is pretty important. But to build part of your argument on comparing jobs is just silly, because its an argument that will never be won. Not because your job is easier, which it might be or might be significantly harder, but because the function you provide in society is so important you deserve to be paid well.
Lastly, I just hope that your comparison to the private sector and your opinions on this stays in your blogs and not in your classroom. Because the things is this computer you type on, this blog, that pen you use to mark are all created by hard working people in the private sector. To be little their functions, saying that they work 9-5 in an office, just dealing with adults, is a little disrespectful coming from someone who demands so much respect for their profession. I guess its one of those practice what you preach moments, I suppose. If children learned a little more that there are rewarding careers in the private sector then we wouldn’t have an influx of teachers who literally don’t give a shit or couldn’t find anything else better to do and the passionate, well deserved earning ones like yourself would be able to shine and show this province why you are so important.
Just my thoughts…
Hi, Use to not understand, thanks for your thoughts.
Regarding the “dirty kids”, this section was purely in relation to the issue about sick days. Most new teachers spend quite a lot of time, at least in their first few years (if not much longer) being sick – and the reasons are obvious when you look at a group of 20-30 kids. It was not intended to argue “how bad we have it”, since those dirty kids are the same kids we love, the ones who make the job worthwhile (well, most of them).
In writing about the hardworking habits of teachers I know, I intended to do as you say, and show how they/we “go above and beyond” (it was also not a complaint).
As to your words about comparing positions with the private sector… I’m genuinely confused. I don’t remember mentioning the private sector at all, much less making a comparison – or belittling their/your functions?! …Unless you’re referring to my comparison to my own former job, which I found to be easier than teaching. That is only my own experience, and that is all I meant it to represent. I do not presume to speak for or about other professions, although of course I am well aware that there are amazing, hardworking people in all job fields – and that many of those people have very frustrating working conditions and are not compensated proportionate to what they’re worth.
Your last remark about keeping the opinions out of the classroom, though I appreciate the sentiment, is very condescending. We know better than that. Kids will determine what they want to be, and we are acutely aware that a large part of our job is to foster that. (Incidentally, I’ve known very few kids who talked about wanting to be teachers…)
There is one other point about the Catholic School Board that Dalton McGuinty has kept out of the media.
There is a “me too” clause in their new contract that states if any of the other teaching unions sign a better deal, the Catholic and French unions will get that deal.
Soooooo, we do all the work and look bad in the public eyes, and they just jump on board. Interesting isn’t it?
Hello, Heather . . . As one of those teachers who has volunteered for many extra-curricular activities, including coaching during my lunch hours and weekends, I think that I need to address your particular concerns regarding the extra-curriculars.
First of all,I love doing it. I love watching the students I teach/coach have the opportunity to participate, expecially since the school is a small, rural community and many of the students come from impoverished (or near impoverished) family situations. I put my heart and soul into coaching these children, spending several Saturdays in a row with them coaching them, cheering them on, and pumping them back up again when they’re having a tough time. I spent the first 10 years of my teaching career at this school doing this (and more) without even batting an eye. I also had no other responsibilities except for my job.
Now,I am a mother. Last year was my first year back, and I went right back into doing all the things I did before, including the coaching. During that particular sport’s coaching season, I had one complete weekend out of five to spend with my own child. During that time, I was putting the needs of other people’s children above my own child’s. To think of other people’s children, I had to put my own child second. It’s like being between a rock and a hard place. It’s either-or. Who should take priority? My child or someone else’s?
Another fun perk of the putting in all this extra time is that, inevitably, I run myself down and get sick. Every. Single. Year.
Now, when I got into this profession, I understood that putting in time for extra-curriculars would come with the job. I looked forward to it. However, just because it comes with the job does not mean that it is part of the job requirements that I am paid for. Many parents believe that i’m paid for all the extra time I put in. I’m not. When one parent asked me if I’m paid and I told her that I was not, she was absolutely shocked because she knows the time I put in to coach.
You point out that we all have a responsibility to contribute to our communities. In theory, this is true. In reality, it doesn’t happen. There will always be people who contribute, and there will always be people who don’t. Why is it that all teachers are expected to make contributions because “it’s for the kids” when the same pressure/expectation isn’t applied to anyone else as part of their job? And for that matter, many teachers I know do contribute to their greater communities by doing other things, not just at their schools. We are allowed to have lives outside of school.
I love my job, as most teachers do. However, I think the issue here is that we need to take a step back and look at our priorites when so much is expected of us. I will always do my best to do my job, as is required, but right now my priority is my family – as, most likely, is yours. Why would you begrudge me that? Especially in a climate that demonizes me. Why should I put in the extra effort any more for people who take it for granted and don’t appreciate it?
Right now, I haven’t made a decision about what I’m going to do. I breaks my heart to think that I may have to step back. At some point, I may not have a choice in the matter. Trust me, this is not an easy decision for any teacher who gives their time to make sure that students get the extras.
I also forgot . . . Those five weeks? That’s only one of my coaching stints. I do one in the fall and one in the spring. This year, if I decide to coach in the fall, I won’t have time to plan or put on my daughter’s 2nd birthday party. She was born in the middle of the season. Last year I managed to squeeze it in on a weekend off, but this year there isn’t a weekend break in between tournament. I won’t be able to win – either I’m a terrible coach/teacher or a neglectful mother. Which would you choose to be?
Just in case anyone wants to know the value of a teacher, so to speak, here’s a link to check out. Might spark some more conversation. (Not that there isn’t enough :-))
Some people above mentioned that teachers work 7-8 hours a day for only 8-1/2 months. I think this type of misinformation is a problem. Like any good professional such as a lawyer, a teacher needs to prepare lessons, which take time. No complaints about it, but preparing lessonas can take a while.
Staying after school for activities, or helping students is part of the work. Many teachers take course to improvee their craft, which they have to pay.
Many go to their classes to prepare in late August.
I can go on, and on. If teachers have it so good, as some state here, then why did they not get into it?
I know many teachers, in both ontario and nova scotia. My mom was even a teacher. I hate when people say teachers have it easy, because they won’t. Most teachers teach a whole variety of students, from the gifted, average, those who just don’t care and don’t do/ try (in class and homework and assignments), the slow learner to those with learning difficulties/ learning disabilities. And with class sizes generally around 25-30 students, I can imagine hopw difficult it would be to teach a lesson, given all the different learning types and IPP’s a teacher will have to deal with. And then on top of it all, there is the in school drama (whether inside or outside the classroom or both) of the studentsl. Bullying and the like, as well as difficult parents (many different reasons). My reaction to the teacher wage freeze and banning of strikes was this: So basically what the ontario government is saying is ‘we will do something not so nice to you, and then make sure you can’t do anything about it.’ Gee how nice.
Awesome video Future Teacher…has me in tears. The one I posted is the routine by Taylor Mali that talks about what teachers make…the video you posted is an awesome adaptation of his routine, which I posted above. Both are amazing tributes to what we do. For all the teachers out there, keep your head held high, keep doing what you’re doing…because in the end, we make a difference, and that’s all that matters.
My eldest babe just started senior kindergarten this year. It’s 1 week into school and we’ve already been affected by our governments choices when it comes to our child’s education. I don’t understand the negative response towards our teachers. By the government, parents and students. These amazing (yes there are bad seeds) but amazing people are literally shaping our future, they are trying to teach an “all-about-me” generation the skills they will need to be a success. And for some, its the only source of education they will recieve. It amazes me that so many parents believe that our teachers our the main and only source to which their child learns, and a child’s failure means the teacher has failed. Bad-mouthed kids? Teachers fault. Cannot articulate a simple thought? Teachers fault. Selfish attitude? Teachers fault. But of course, we expect our teachers to change the world while being forced to work in a volatile, negative situation. We, as parents, need to realize that we need to work with our children and their teachers to create the most positive outcome we can. I cannot believe the difference in the schools since I was in school. It pains me to think what will happen with our young lives as this battle continues. Teachers deserved to be crapped on on a daily basis by the world around them, as they try to build up that world. It baffles me. I am not a teacher, but I cannot imagine having to work under these conditions. I can only imagine the resentment I would feel towards my own boss and job if this were to happen within my workplace.
Clarissa, thank you so much for your comment. Parents like you are keeping educators sane at times like this! I hope your little one is enjoying SK. 🙂
Tiff…the clause with the Catholic teachers is there…from what I understand they went up to bat first because it was their turn politically. Also, the clause makes sense because in the end all teachers do the same job, and the contracts should be equitable.
Used to not understand: The only people who have compared teaching to other jobs and what they get paid has been people from other occupations. I have attempted to say IF we must compare the pay/sick days/benefits, etc. then we should compare based on similar education or same employer.
NO ONE is saying that other jobs are/aren’t great, that they are worse/better, that they should be paid more/less.
Teachers never belittle any job (well I shouldn’t say never, but I guess I mean I wouldn’t). Most teachers don’t belittle any job. Although, I would mention university/college and try to encourage careers with a college/university degree and not promote fast food except as a great stepping stone. I wouldn’t belittle fast food as many of their parents may work there. And being in primary I’m more introducing types of job compared to talking to teens about what they want to be.
Honestly, when talking about jobs and what kids can do I often don’t remember teaching, lol. I think of dr, nurse, mechanic, receptionist, engineers and mould makers because of my family and where I grew up.
Teachers have the most important job – creating the future of our country. You all deserve respect and gratitude, not the bullshit Mr.McGinty is dishing out. I fully support each and every one of you. I’ve seen your commitment and caring. Thank you. I will continue to pressure the government on your behalf.
Leslie, thank you so much for your support – and for proving that there are people outside the teaching profession who think well of what we do. It is so appreciated.
I couldn’t even get through all of your heavily bias opinion but I have three points.
1) Its laughable to even mention US teachers. Average salary of US elemenry teachers is just over $40000. Less than the minimum for Ontario. Lest than half of the what many teachers with 10 years experience would make. Not to mention far superior benefits for Ontario teacher.
2) Many teachers are hard working intelligent people but the salary, vacation, benefits are more than competitive comparted to most similarly educated people in the private sector.
3) Simple supply and demand would indicate teachers are compensated very well. Lets say 10% of the teachers in Ontario decide that wage freeze is unacceptable and quit. In normal industry 10% loss in skilled workforce would crippling. It takes months to find and fill educated positions. In Ontario you would have well educated, fully capable teachers lining up for those jobs. I wager you could drop the salary by 20% and those same teachers would still line up for the job.
In closing, I do not think that all teachers are greedy or lazy but I absolutely support major changes to comensation policies of ALL unionized public sector employees. In the private sector if a union pushes for wages that a company cannot support the company goes out of business. Supply and demand holds. In private sector the government just prints money (debt) and compensation get out of control.
Wow, Steve… If you’re looking for unbiased opinions, I’m not sure what you’re doing on a personal blog (written by a teacher). This is not a news source. Despite the fact that you “couldn’t even get through” my personal perspective, I have managed to get through all of yours. It simply demonstrates that, in not reading the article, you have missed its point. However, I can address the imbalance between supply and demand for teachers in Ontario, if you’re interested. I was one of many thousands of young people who were encouraged by guidance counsellors etc. (a decade or so ago) to become teachers, because everyone knew there were going to be mass retirements of baby boomers, and experts were therefore predicting a teacher shortage. What nobody predicted was a major decline in birth rates, and therefore enrollment rates, in the majority of school boards throughout the province. There are simply fewer students to be taught, so many people who were encouraged to follow this path are unable to find work. Of course, good working conditions are also an incentive – but they are not usually enough to keep someone in the profession who isn’t cut out for teaching.
Teacher Salaries: As a fellow teacher YES, teachers should be paid accordingly and professionally. The biggest difference between teacher salaries and the “professional private” sector is that teachers, no matter how Good they are, automatically get pay increases due to time “served”. In the private sector, if you aren’t good at your job, you certainly don’t get any raises, and most likely loose your job. I strongly believe that parents should have some say in who gets to teach their children, and those teachers that are chosen, paid nicely. Those teachers not chosen shouldn’t be able to hide behind a union, and should be dismissed. Then the pay scale would be entirely fair…
Used to Understand – you read my mind, well said.
The other day a neighbour (University prof) and his elementary school spouse came over and asked me if I knew someone who could tighten a door handle. Gasp !!! I thought that a primary purpose of education was to teach people how to think. Is this indicative of teachers? Perhaps they just didn’t want to do menial labour. I loaned them a screwdriver and told them what to do.
You’ve got me on the biased opinion. I was forwarded this link and commented without understanding the context that it was written in.
I find it hard to believe the over supply has much to do with guidance counselors or other people suggesting education. I have several friends and relatives that are teachers and not one of them started university intending to become a teacher but as time when on they started to see the appeal of teaching. Many of these people are under 30 and decided on teaching knowing full well that they would struggle to find a job.
The job is attractive enough (whether it be the compensation, vacation or personal satisfaction) that these people still choose the profession knowing it could be years before they find a full time position.
I’m an engineer and as such I think in simple terms. If there is a line up of qualified people willing to work for less than the compensation can be reduced. I lived this. Engineering salaries sky rocketed in the late 90s because of an under supply. Overnight the crash in 2001 changed the salary landscape. In the public sector corrections never seem to happen.
Anyway, my vent was probably misplaced but some of you points hit sore spots.
Steve, thanks for the straightforward reply. I absolutely see your point about engineering salaries and similar situations in other professions.
I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a sincere question. Are you, as part of such a profession, happy with that system?
I know that I am often frustrated when friends and family members find themselves in jobs where working conditions are bad (e.g. no benefits, having to fight for raises that were supposed to be automatic with good performance, being given strings of temporary contracts instead of permanent work, terrible vacation time, being paid far less than the skills are worth… the list goes on). I know that in some of those cases, it’s a small company that literally can’t afford to pay more, but more often, it’s large companies with higher-ups making enormous salaries (Chapters and Le Chateau come to mind). It angers me that in a country like Canada we can’t manage hold such companies to better employment standards. From your perspective, is it silly to think we could do better? After all, I doubt that in 2001 the cost of living for engineers went down along with the salary crash…
Thank you for posting an article that underscored the real problem here — arrogance. How dare you assume that you are more deserving than any other hardworking person? In my opinion, many of your ideas only serve to define your profession as a group of spoiled and entitled adolescents. We’ve all felt the government cuts, why should you be above it? I also find it funny that teachers always seem to love the government until their perks start to be questioned. Your statements about salary are insulting, especially since you’ve conveniently left out that your gross annual pay only represents about 9 months of work — averaging about $10,000/month! I think the solution here is simple, make the work day for teachers 8-5 (just like the rest of us), and have the last two hours devoted to the activities that we all enjoyed growing up: clubs, teams — you know, the stuff that teaches real-world skills like teamwork, cooperation, problem-solving, decision-making….
Gosh, Patti – thanks for illustrating so fully the nature of a troll: someone who (fabricates and) “reads” words they are expecting rather than what is actually written. Since you are obviously not here to read, think, learn, or understand, that must mean you are here solely to spout vitriol. You make me wonder: do you realize the hypocrisy of your first statement? Do you wish to be treated with consideration, respect, and manners when you show none? And what in the world happened to you, to make you so mean and bitter?
Great article, interesting comments — both pro- and anti-teacher. (Sadly, the anti-teacher ones were entirely predictable.)
Whenever I tell someone I’m a teacher, and they come back with, “Wow, must be nice, two months off, eh?”, I come back with a couple of these:
“Well, a lot of people don’t have to pre-schedule their bathroom breaks during the day.”
“Would *you* like to be cooped-up all day in a room full of 30 crazed teenagers?”
“…and all the free red pens I can handle! Can you believe it?!”
But if none of those work, the one that always seals the deal is, “Well, if it’s such an easy gig, you’re more than welcome to join us.” I’ve been teaching for twelve years, and every single time this comeback has elicited a response along the lines of, “Ahh… well… y’know… I wouldn’t have the patience… don’t know how you guys do it.” And then I can see their tail dangling down between their legs.
Someone commented above that they’re sick of teachers constantly have to defend their positions; two things about that come to mind. One, not too many professions get badmouthed more than teachers; personal-injury lawyers and tax auditors come to mind, but that’s about it. The reason for this is the second thing that I need to mention here: a lot of people (especially those who bash teachers) feel like they’re experts in education because they were once a student, which makes them feel entitled to critique the profession as a whole. I doubt people feel like they know what it’s like to be a doctor because they’ve been a patient, or what it’s like to be an air-traffic controller because they’ve flown in a plane.
You know what, though? It doesn’t matter to me what the general public’s current opinion about teachers is; it used to, but it doesn’t anymore. Because when the kids come into my classroom, we close the door and then we solve problems about forces, dissect assorted things to see how they’re put together, and nerd-out on supernovas. I’ll continue being the sole male role model presently in some of my students’ lives, I’ll (probably) coach the baseball team and remind them to take a bit bigger lead off of first, and I’ll give a kid advice on what courses they should take so they can become an electrician. Bash me all you like, but I know I do an important job, and I’d like to think I do it pretty well, so I’ll just keep doing it, thanks.
J recently posted..A collection of things that shall be said.
What a fascinating Friday night I have spent, reading through all of the thoughts and comments from start to finish; I have experienced every emotion possible…excitement, anger, empathy, sadness, disappointment, hope, etc.. It is encouraging to see that we teachers are not alone in our dedication to our vocation, in our desire to stop being “crapped” on–sorry, I just can’t think of a verb that expresses how I feel more appropriately– and in our unified defense of our professionalism and hard work. Although several of the comments that were submitted dismayed me, they did not surprise me. Ignorant statements invariably come from individuals who have not walked a mile in a teacher’s shoes. I can also honestly say that I have never attacked other professions-whether in the public or private sector-with such blanket statements and harsh judgements, as some people seem to feel are appropriate towards teachers.
I certainly do not wish to reiterate what already seems to have been explained and defended about teachers in every differentiated way possible to every type of learner out there. I applaud each of your entries as you have all thoroughly addressed the issues and accusations made with dignity, grace and eloquence. Thank you for representing “our” side of the story!
The only thought that I would like to add, which does not seem to have been addressed, is my response to the comments made about teachers facebooking their “beach” and “cottage ” holidays in the summer, as well as a semi-sarcastic remark about why so many teachers own cottages……
To begin, many of my friends are naturally teachers (they are my friends from teacher’s college and my present colleagues). Did many of us post comments, at one point or another, from a trip to Disney or from a relaxing beach or vacation home over the course of the summer? Probably yes. Did we post these photos and experiences all summer long? Certainly not. Most of these posts were made during a one-or two-week sojourn at some point in the summer. I do not criticize my friends who work in the private sector and who post their vacations from a ski village or a Caribbean island during their time off throughout the year, and thus I find it baffling that people hone in on a teacher’s holiday/vacation (not to be confused with the summer weeks during which we do not have students to teach), which spans the same amount of time as any other working individual’s holiday; yet because it takes place within that coveted “two months off” that people seem to envy–and therefore criticize –so much, our holiday is seen as undeserved.
Furthermore, I know of two types of people who own cottages (which, frankly, is a petty remark to make in the first place…why shouldn’t teachers own a cottage??????). There are teachers like myself, who frequent a family cottage that our parents/grandparents own (most of my friends are in that “boat”. Thus, to those of you who are concerned that we are paid too much to be able to own -God forbid- a cottage, don’t worry, we can’t actually afford one. Without meaning to divulge too much personal information about myself, my mother has been discussing with my husband (who is also an educator)and me, how to keep the cottage in the family if/when she passes on. Despite the fact that the cottage would have no mortgage on it if my husband and I inherited it, we are not certain that we could afford our present home plus the taxes and utilities and upkeep on the cottage as well. In short, we don’t make enough to own a cottage).
The only other type of professional that I know, who owns a cottage without the help of an aging parent from the baby boomer generation, is the professional from the private sector. I have a number of friends who made a shocking amount of money ( to me at least) fresh out of university, in the high tech industry. These individuals were able to pay off a mortgage within a few years and have therefore been able to purchase a cottage/second home as well now. By the way, I don’t begrudge these friends their cottage, nor their all-inclusive vacations in the middle of November when I am teaching, and I don’t “slam” them in editorials or at a dinner or in person for their choice of profession, or for their work hours, or for their vacation time (which is more than one may think–but I’m not going there–).
My final comment is to the individuals out there who feel compelled to make remarks such as one that a parent once said to my mother (she is also a retired teacher) years ago. My mother was once asked at parent-teacher interviews, which teacher in the parking lot owned the upscale SUV, as no teacher had any business owning such a fancy car……(and by the way it was not my mother’s car). First of all, no one has the right to judge what we teachers may or may not save up for in life., and most likely, if we own something that you think is exorbitant, it’s highly likely that we are married to someone in the private sector and that is why we own it!
Despite the animosity that is directed towards teachers on such a frequent basis, by the people who understand our profession the least, I refuse to let the ignorant quell me. I know in my heart that I make a daily difference. I sleep well at night because I love and this love is demonstrated in my actions at work and at home. A wise friend recently advised me, “the more love you give, the more joy you receive.” As a result teachers receive daily happiness, and I do not need to look any further than my students each morning, to see that I am valuable.
About teacher salaries
Yes – that’s 85K-95K, and months of vacation time per year in a fireproof career (just don’t involve yourself with a student).
About taxpayer money
That’s a clever twist of the argument. Why not examine your property tax bill to see what the largest single component (more than 50%) of the bill is.
About sick days
Wow – bankable sick days. What a concept… I wonder how many people in the real world have such a benefit. And then again, if teachers aren’t using those sick days, then there’s no loss to losing that benefit, right?
About the Catholic teachers
I have to admit that I agree with you on this one. I always thought that favoring one religion (or for that matter, paying for any religious studies) using public funds is wrong.
If you don’t want to go on strike, then it’s time to elect less radical union leaders. After all, we were just told about salary being reasonable, and we know of the long summer breaks. Is salary vs. work conditions really that bad? Precisely why the need to strike?
Don’t even get me started. And the argument regarding strong unions protecting even non-union jobs is a non-starter. The other side of the coin of this argument is that employers will have more incentive to hire contract workers that enjoy fewer benefits and job security, rather than full-time employees who could later organize into a union.
About vacation time
Well at least you are “well aware of how good we have it when it comes to the amount of vacation time inherent in the system”. And if those long vacations are what got you through the job the first few years, would you like to know what got me through some of the jobs I had to do in my lifetime? It was knowing that I was the only breadwinner in the home and that I had small children depending on me to bring home the paycheck. How about that as a dose of reality that others have to live with?
While my personal experience is that teachers are not in general lazy, the problem is that lazy, or otherwise “unqualified” teachers are protected by their unions. Aside from outright child abuse, I don’t think any teacher has ever been fired for being lazy.
About putting kids first
Ditto re: laziness. For a change at least, it’s the Liberals, rather than the “evil Conservatives” that bear the brunt of the negative comments in this article.
Hi Cesar, thanks for such an organized and well-worded comment. In case you’re interested…
– Many thousands of teachers (including me) are NOT making the money you refer to, because a) they are not at the top of the pay grid, b) their contracts are temporary, or c) they work part-time. Well over half the staff at my school is in this position.
– It must have occurred to you that school boards (that are receiving a portion of our property taxes) have to fund the maintenance of the actual physical plant of their schools, from furnaces to asphalt to basketball nets to snow removal to paint jobs… You have kids, so you must see how that’s important.
– I know many police department staff who get to bank their sick days. Do they also not live in the real world? (Probably not – it’s just less acceptable to bash them.)
– I have been the sole or primary breadwinner (by a long shot) for my entire teaching career. (This is true of many teachers.) I am also a parent. My husband is currently training for a new career, so our household depends entirely on my (part-time) salary. Does this count as reality?
– I understand your frustration about bad teachers. You can perhaps imagine that this phenomenon is even more frustrating for hardworking teachers, who not only live with the idea but also pick up the slack from bad teachers. But realistically, what else is there to do?
Teachers clearly do not follow the news. Everywhere in the world there is a recession, people are losing jobs, bonuses being cut and salaries being frozen everywhere.
Tell me why the private sector has to continue to fund teachers. What people mean when they say they pay taxes, our companies provide product and service to generate money for the country. When our salaries are taxed, then you are paid. So in fact we DO pay your salary. If we do not earn money how will the government get money to pay you?
Also you talk about the big salaries in the big companies and you are referring to the 1%, do some research, teachers have better benefits, a higher salary . more job security and more vacation that 90% of canadians.
I know many people make $50,000 a year and will retire making that same salary. Why should you be guaranteed an increase? Why should teachers be isolated from economics when the world is going through hardship. Speak to the people in greece who are suffering and see what they think of your complaints, speak to the people in Africa.
All jobs are important, that is why they exist. Pay should be determined by demand and supply and complexity of the job. Teaching has high supply and low complexity, how do you justify your salary?
The government of Canada published stats a few weeks ago and the average teacher makes more money than the average engineer or lawyer, why should this be???
Hey, Disagree, thanks for commenting… you’re so awesome, you generously decided to contribute the same stuff TWICE! “Low complexity”… “spare periods”… “no bad managers or long hours”… you are hilarious! I’m sorry to hear that you are currently suffering the way people in Greece or Africa are, since you obviously understand their plight. That is tragic.
My daughter alerted me to your blog (I don’t usually have time to read such things because I’m busy marking, assessing, planning, getting the latest ‘expensive’ initiative under my belt, etc etc etc). I would just like to add a few things to support your ‘spot on comments’ about teaching. You’ve done a superb job!!
Sick days – I haven’t taken a sick day in 11 years. Does anyone realize how much money that has saved TDSB in supply teachers’ salaries? When our time is ‘up’, I like to think of those accumulated days as my savings plan, or severance or gratuity. Why not – it was a negotiated agreement way back when. After all, McGuinty’s severance/gratuity would be $313,461 and Broten’s would be $246,057 (for far less working years than mine) if they retired now. Are they willing to give it up? I believe mine is in the range of $45,000 and I’m ready to fight for it!
Catholic Teachers – after speaking with Catholic Teachers from 7 different schools, I am appalled at the position they have been put in. Not one of them had a union rep who came to them for their vote. Doesn’t sound very democratic to me.
Vacation time – When I started teaching in 1964, I was told by the inspector that if I hadn’t signed on for a 6 week educational course, I wouldn’t have a job in September. So that set the pattern for the first part of my ‘vacation’. The rest of the vacation has always been spent getting the classroom ready or working 10 hour days at home (planning) and YES, that includes weekends. I hope the critical public forgives me for taking a 2 day break in August to go up North.
I spent 30 years working at various jobs (including coffee shops and cleaning toilets) so I do know what the ‘real’ world is all about. I returned to teaching 12 years ago so I could better prepare students for this ‘real’ world. Financially, I don’t understand how a teacher supports a family on a teacher’s salary. I barely make it from paycheque to paycheque living on my own. But here’s my point: I love what I do! No holidays (I spent last Christmas Day marking papers), 15 hour workdays, 7 days/week (year round!) an I don’t begrudge one single minute. I jump out of bed at 5:30 every morning, prepared to teach a group of students who aren’t quite sure whether they want to learn anything. My job is to inspire that desire. I believe I do. However, I am not inspired by the lack of respect shown by the government and media (hence, the public – since many people believe everything they read).
I challenge anyone to walk a mile in my shoes (yes, I even invite the public into my classroom, I dare you). Don’t think you’ll get a break though, if you’re in my shoes because I don’t get to even sit down until I leave school at 7:00pm (when I sit in my 14 year old car). My EQAO scores (inner city school) attest to the fact that I am doing more than my job (without ‘cheating’) and loving every moment.
How dare the government and media (and general public)relegate my job to the garbage heap.
Carolynne Hain (OCT), grade 5/6 teacher at Roselands JPS, TDSB.
No one has really addressed the misinformation being spouted by the media and public regarding the fact that this is not about a “wage freeze”. There needs to be more of an emphasis on correcting this since it is the headline in nearly all of the stories being reported on. We have agreed to a freezing of the top pay. All teachers are receiving a CUT.
Whether it’s any teacher who now has to get insurance to bridge the gap between their 11th sick day and long term disability, instead of relying on banked days to help get you through cancer and other long term illnesses. Or one who accepts getting 66% of their pay. Or the majority of teachers in their first 10 years who aren’t going to be moving up the grid (on average a loss of about $18,000), Or if there is grid movement every teacher taking 3 unpaid days to pay for it.
I’m sick of all the private sector people talking about how teachers aren’t part of the real world. What they don’t understand is that nearly half of what teachers do (over night camps, sports,curriculum nights or literacy nights, etc.) is not a requirement.
When work to rule happens. It might be for the length of the entire contract. Who knows, they may never come back again. In any case I’ll be getting a second paying job to make up the difference. I’m done working for free. Finally joining the real world I guess. Thank you to the private sector for helping me see that all these extras are nothing but modern slavery. Time for teachers to WAKE UP.
Thank you so very much for writing and posting this thorough, articulate and informative work of heart. I am a teacher in the U.S., and every word rings true. I will share this with everyone I know, in the hopes that it will get into the hands of those who NEED to know. Congratulations on your baby!
Kerri, thank you for your comment! I have been reading about the teachers’ situation in Chicago and some other areas in the U.S… and I think you are amazing for doing what you do, under the conditions you do. BRAVO. (And thanks for the congratulations! We are very excited.)
Teachers dont realise how overpaid they are. Guess what, in these trying times, everyone works 10 hours a day and weekends, but we dont have summers off, we dont have spare periods and we do not get to roll sick days over and retire early. So why is it teachers feel that they are “entitled” to all of these things yet the people that actually generate money for the government have to settle for 2 weeks vacation, 5 sick days and little or no pay????? Are teachers better than the rest of us?
These salaries are guaranteed regardless of economy or skillset. So while the entire world is getting cutbacks a gym teacher is making $90K a year?? The country is in deficit and yet teacher believe they are immune to what is happening in the world. Walk in your shoes???? You do some research and you will realise workplace stress is due to bad managers, unfair pay, long hours, job security. You have to deal with none of these things.
How about you come walk in my shoes where i work as much hours as you do, I am paid 1/3 less and even if i do an amazing job I can get fired because my company doesnt perform well. Teachers need to wake up and realise they are not different to the general population and therefore should not get special perks. Who on earth gets to roll over sick days when they have 3 months off a year?
I have not taken a sick day in 17 years, that doesnt mean i get to retire early and milk the system!
While I agree McGuinty’s tactics are heavy-handed, none of the pro-teacher platitudes I have read hear have done anything to make me sympathetic to their cause. More importantly, the great flaws in logic, poor writing, lack of critical thinking, and over-inflated self-importance just depresses me further.
Some of the more ridiculous arguments include.
1) Comparing pay to an athlete. Athletes get to work for about 10-20 years, and have tens of thousands of people paying to see them. Unlike teachers, their salaries are largely based on performance and very little of their income is guaranteed. Show up out of shape and your career could be over
2) That you are saving us money by not using sick days. Not if you’re using them as a “savings plan” you’re not. You’re just defering the expense of paying a substitute. Most daycare workers deal with more of your hyperbolic snot, phlegm, vomit, and also have to deal with dirty diapers for $12 an hour only to receive 5-10 sick days a year. If you’re not sick you DON’T USE THEM. Taking them as “mental health” days would get you fired in the real world, and expecting them to carry over is because you stayed healthy is INCREDIBLY SELFISH. Doing your job doesn’t save anybody money, but taking “mental health” days does costs us more.
3) One person argued that you don’t get paid for summers. FALSE. Your salary is not prorated. If you’re in the $90K bracket, prorated would mean you only get paid around $76,500 because you get two months off, and this simply is not the case.
4) Not one person has addressed my argument that YOU GOT THIS GOVERNMENT ELECTED. If you voted Liberal, (which I’m sure 95% of you did, because you all so blindly follow your union rhetoric), you have NO right to complain. You paid for a politician who was ethically challenged, and you trusted him. If you used any critical thought, you’d realize, a politician you can buy can’t be trusted and a politician you can trust can’t be bought.
There are tons more I could address, but this blog isn’t worth any more of my time.
Aw, Jeff. I’m so touched you came back (though I don’t know why).
1) You’re so right. Now I feel all bad for those poor athletes. Wait… they’re unionized!
2)i) FYI, saving sick days for retirement has not been an option in most boards for a long time. Also – are you saying those day care workers get paid enough? Because I strongly disagree that $12/h is decent pay for such a job.
2)ii) As my regular readers know, when I referred to my “mental health” days, there was a reason for them. The son my family was expecting last August (2011) was stillborn in July. I had the option of taking what remained of my pregnancy leave (about 10 weeks) when school began, but decided to begin teaching in September so as to cause the least disruption to the classes I teach. There were a couple days, though, when I felt the quality of my work would be overly affected by my state of mind, so used sick days for the purpose. It seemed reasonable to me (and my co-workers and principal), but then, I’m incredibly selfish and have no concept of the real world, so no wonder.
3) I’m not sure you understand what prorated means. The daily rate for an occasional (long or short-term) teacher is considerably higher than for a permanent teacher because their pay is not stretched out (prorated) to cover non-teaching days. Also, as I explained below to another commenter, many thousands of teachers (me included) don’t make anything close to $90K a year, for many reasons. (As it happens, I’m not that close to $76K either.)
4) Actually, I did address this point with you when you first brought it up – go check. But I don’t know how you can expect people to take this point seriously when you make mindless, unfounded assumptions like “95% of you did, because you all so blindly follow your union rhetoric”. This makes it rather farcical that you accuse me of “great flaws in logic, poor writing, lack of critical thinking, and over-inflated self-importance”.
So sorry to lose you from the “discussion”, Jeff. I’ll really miss your venom.
Well Finally joining the real world, your comments are hilarious.
(1) You need to get insurance to bridge the 11th sick day! The entire private sector has 5 days!!! No pity there
(2) Great you have to coach football after hours! In the real world we have to work! Guess what if you teach math this year 2+2 = 4 and if you teach math next year 2+2 is still 4. So dont pretend that you have do re invent the wheel every year. The average person in corporate north america works alot more than 40-50 hours a week. Cry me a river.
(3) Work to rule? This proves teachers have a bad attitude towards their work. We all work more than 40 hours a week. The reason we do it is because we care about our jobs and we care about results, most of all we are happy to have jobs and want to ensure Canada pushes forward. If we all work to rule, what happens then?
(4) We all work very very hard in the private sector and we do not have all these perks you have. You say you work 10 hours a day or overnight camps but you have summers off. If you calculate how many hours you work per year it is not comparable to the average person working 5 hours a week, with 2 weeks vacation. We dont get snow days, we dont have entire days where we oversee exams, we dont have lunch break or recess. Come work in the private sector before comparing the two. I have many friends who left corporate to teach and they have unanimously say that teaching is very tough because it is mentally and emotionally draining BUT that it is easier and better paid than corporate any day.
The problem with this is that the government is taxing the private sector where we are not getting raises, we are not getting bonuses, people are not getting jobs and all our tax is going to teachers who are whining about their guaranteed increases and 20 sick days a year and summers off. you do need to WAKE UP
Teachers like to speak about opinions, they are scared of facts. There are so many professions that need more education and are more complex that are paid the same or less than teachers. The second degree they boast is teachers college where you can attend for 1 year and get a second bachelors which is ridiculous.
Take a look at number 41 and tell me why teachers are paid close to engineers and lawyers that require more education, it is a more demanding job and requires great skill.
Lets hear teachers argue facts.
Why is a teacher paid more than a pilot, someone who is responsible for peoples lives!
We’re not complaining about our sick days. Most teachers don’t even use them. And they’re not just sick days either. They’re used for religious holidays, moving days etc. I was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and relied on the banked sick days I had saved for this kind of situation my entire career. A mastectomy doesn’t just take 10 working days to recover from. Now me and my family will have to live off of 66% of my salary if heaven forbid there is a recurrence. Good thing the almost 200 sick days I had have been eliminated. Just because you don’t get good benefits from the private sector doesn’t mean there has to be a race to the bottom to take them away from everyone else. Companies will not dictate the benefit standards in my Canada! You’re right the economy is in decline. Unfortunately it’s been the disappearing middle class, not corporate Canada. Gas continues to go up along with the cost of living and inflation at unprecedented levels. Insurance companies and banks proudly claim record profits each quarter. Last time I checked teachers didn’t cause the recession. They didn’t take billions in bailouts and bonuses. You said you’re happy to ensure Canada pushes forward? If we allow the private sector to dictate our standard of living that will never happen.
As for the point I made for work to rule. I worked countless hours coaching 4 sports a year and going to over night camps for weeks all for free. Now my right to strike has been taken away along with my right to bargain collectively. Were not going to be a bunch of doormats any longer. It’s time for teachers to push back.
Thanks…this gave me a new perspective!
Teachers are overpaid, most professionals who work in private sector for 10-19 years make less than $84,000.
A teacher in the Toronto district board with 10 years experience at level 4, makes $94,000.
Teachers have 20 sick days, while private sector has 5 sick days and Public sector has 6 sick days. Only teachers can bank their sick days(up to 200) and get paid out on them. Teachers work less hours than the average corporate employee and employees generally have 3 weeks vacation a year while teachers have much more.
The Teachers salary attached document(i believe page 33) shows the crazy salaries!!
The average canadian salary in 2009 was less than $70,000
A teacher can make more than $70,000 by 30 years old!!
Graduate Salaries have gone down
At 30 years old a teacher makes more than a lawyer!!!!!!!
What is even worse is they are being greedy! Sick days are for if you are sick, they are a privilege not a right. If you are not sick you do not get to roll over sick days……except teachers! These teachers who are willing to strike to get a benefit which is costing taxpayers billions!!!
The sick-day payout will cost taxpayers $118-million in 2011-12, she said, and is rising each year. In total, the government says it has resulted in a $1.7-billion liability.
To sum up, there is an oversupply of teachers. Usually when supply goes up, salaries go down, but not for teachers. Across the world there are pay cuts, benefits being cut and bonuses being cut. But not for teachers!
They are overpaid, underworked and milking the system. On top of that they take taxpayers money who are paid less and get less time off to pay these teachers! They are willing to strike for benefits which they do not deserve and they want more money.
The argument is that you pay alot for teachers otherwise you will not have good education. Guess what then everyone needs to get paid more otherwise you wont have good anything!!!!!!
its funny, that anyone agrees with diblog they are praised and anyone who has a different opinion is attacked.
I guess everyone has to drink the lazy self entitled kool aid to be on this blog
LOOKING FOR AN ADVOCATE
Today I was notified by my employer that I have lost a significant amount of my compensation.
I lost all my short-term disability and long-term disability in the form of carried-over sick days. As a result, I now have to pay higher rates for both benefits as they are funded by the employees and not my employer. My net income will decrease because of this. I anticipated a wage freeze but I now have to face a 1.5% decrease in pay next year. I also lost a possible exit bonus for not taking my sick leave when other municipal and provincial employees still have this benefit. The final blow is that I have lost my rights to collective bargaining as a worker in a union.
Which unions will be targeted next? Are collective bargaining rights going to disappear based on the short-term justification for saving money? The Ontario voters are still on the line for the Liberal’s mess made from cancelled power plants and ORNGE.
Are you willing to give up your democracy for political gains?
In the private sector, are you not given bonuses/raises for a job well done? When I get to the top of my grid, there’s nowhere left to go…I can continue to work my ass off and do an amazing job, and hope that my union will try to protect the small cost of living raises we get. No one I know can bank their sick days and cash them out when they retire…we can bank them for times of need, such as previously mentioned, fighting cancer. Otherwise teachers retire with their sick banks full and that’s it. I find it so appalling and disgusting that some of you have the nerve to come on here and write what you have. Why do teachers always say “walk in my shoes”? Because we are shit on ALL.THE.TIME! I would NEVER, EVER ask one of my private sector friends what they make, how much time they get off during the day/year, how late they stayed at work, how much time they spent volunteering, etc, etc, etc…yet, you FEEL you have the RIGHT to ask me and then go on to bash my profession? We have no recourse but to ask you to walk in our shoes. Someone above made the comment about us making more than a pilot…ummm, not the pilots I know. Of course they have an important job…in fact, every job out there is important otherwise it wouldn’t be considered a job…but because they are responsible for lives, as you put it, they should be paid more than us? Are WE not responsible for lives? Are WE not the ones shaping the future, teaching CHILDREN, who will go on to become PILOTS, CEOs, MPPs, DOCTORS, TEACHERS…why is that lost? Thanks to the media, government, and the mentatlity that “I was a student, I know what it’s like to be a teacher”, we are shit on. There’s only one thing that’s going to happen…this is going to start translating to the students…YOUR KIDS…but maybe you don’t care about that. Maybe it’s more important to you to bad mouth us because our school system sets out two months “off”, because the media tells you we bank our sick days and cash them out when we retire, because we make more than you think we should for the job we do. Set all that aside and THINK before you speak/write…THINK about how much more we, as PROFESSIONALS can take, before it starts affecting OUR FUTURE!
T.J.B notice i posted websites with FACTS, i didnt come on here spewing my opininon based on a sample size that consists of a couple people. It really doesnt matter what you think pilots you know make, the facts are posted so we dont have to guess.
The reality is all jobs are important which is why they exist. There are many jobs that are very very hard work but are not paid well. Generally high paying jobs are (1) Highly skilled- high complexity (2) In great demand – or there is a lack of supply
Can you please let me know which of the two criteria teaching fulfills?
I am by no means belittling your job but there is an oversupply of teachers. Teaching is not a difficult job, I have taught for 3 years and yes it is tiring but it is not complex or difficult, therefore what warrants the pay to be above average.
All the teachers here keep going on about they need the sick day in the event of circumstances like cancer. It is us in the private sector that generate money for the country and the taxes from our salary pays the public sector. So why is it ok for teachers to continually drain our budget with benefits/vacation/sick days that strain the rest of us. That is not fair. If someone in the private sector gets cancer we have 5 SICK DAY, what are we to do??? You are so hung up feeling sorry for yourselves you dont realise that everyone else has it worse off.
Teachers will only get pity from other teachers because all other professions know how hard they work for much less. I have friends with undergraduate and graduate degrees much like all of you make $40,000 a year. Our increases are not guaranteed. You complain that you reach the top of your grid and you only get cost of living- WAKE UP TEACHERS – the private sector only gets on increase and it is generally less than 3% and NOT EVERYONE GETS IT. Then the government taxes that small salary to pay the salaries of teacher that is more than the private sector with more vacation, better benefits. It is digusting hearing teachers always want more, more more. Read stats canada, read the papers, people are losing jobs, salaries and bonuses are being cut, WHY SHOULD YOU BE EXCLUDED FROM THIS??
Yes you teach the future, the point is, as important as that job is, it doesnt mean it is highly complex or in low demand. A crossing guard has a very important job to keep our kids safe, do they deserve $80K a year as well?
Why do teachers who teach Gym and Home Ec or shop deserve to be making these salaries as well?
Last but not least, stop whining about your working hours. If you do your planning during your 2 months off for summer nad you do marking during lunch and spare period then it will greatly reduce your days. Another wake up call- the average canadian works a minimum of 50 hours but many work above 60 and still do not make your salary.
Also TJB – you are not responsible for lives the way pilots are, stop using the kids as a bargaining chip!!!
Thanks for writing this, and I do agree with most of your points. Teachers work hard and deserve a decent salary, benefits, and most of all respect.
My only beef is that teachers use unions when it serves them, but most of the time think they are “above” a union worker.
I live in Ontario city whose economic engine is a domestic automaker. The number of teachers that drive into the parking lots with non-unionized Korean and Japanese built cars is astounding. I warned them that the public sector unions would be inevitably catch up with the private sector unions.
Why do people wait until it affects them personally to jump on board?
The bashing of Catholic teachers by public teachers needs to stop. They made the best of a bad situation by negotiating something a bit more palatable. It is quite sad to see that this has become an excuse for the public teacher unions to bash them and assume that they only did it out of fear for their jobs and the Catholic system as a whole. That’s a load of bunk.
– The government has made it clear time and time again that they aren’t going after the system so this is a manufactured fear in the minds of the OSSTF and EFTO to try and rationalize the deal.
– Even if the system was under attack the teachers aren’t going to be out of a job. Those kids have to be taught regardless and it would be the same teachers and schools but without the word ‘Saint” on the building. That alone would not have guaranteed this imaginary capitulation.
– You seem to simply bypass the French teachers. Last time I checked their system has never been attacked as a violation of rights so obviously their motivation wasn’t self preservation. You simply pass over that instead of explaining it.
– Teachers should be thankful of the MOU since that is what the back to work legislation was based upon. Whether you like it or not an agreement was going to be forced on everyone. Thanks to the Catholic and French teachers, that forced agreement at least includes more sick days, a higher rate of short term disability pay, 6 weeks of mat leave under the short term plan, and grid movement. You’re welcome.
– While some disgruntled teachers in the comments want to make it seem like the MOU was a plot by the provincial executives, meeting after meeting at the unit level with the executive have demonstrated wide support for it. No one is happy to take a pay freeze and see an end to the sick leave bank but they’re also adults who realise that sometimes you have to take the lumps and so the key is to make the best of a bad situation, instead of storming away petulantly from the bargaining table a la OSSTH and EFTO.
I very much respect most of what you wrote but the little shot at the Catholic teachers is but a fraction of the petulant acting out that is happening in the OSSTF and EFTO schools. Get over it folks.
Bob, just so you know, my words about Catholic teachers weren’t meant to be a shot. They were meant to explain that the Catholic union was bargaining from a different point of origin, because of its unique position as the only publicly-funded religion-based system (i.e., if the settlement looked like a betrayal, there were understandable reasons for it happening). What I didn’t realize (and why I added an update) was that many Catholic teachers are disgruntled themselves, feeling betrayed by their own union. As for the francophone teachers, I don’t know any personally so I haven’t been able to ask, but as an FSL teacher I know that unfortunately, not all members of the public feel that learning French is a worthwhile endeavour. Also, since only certain children are allowed to attend francophone schools, there are those who believe it is not a good use of public money. That is my best guess as to why they would not want to “make waves” while negotiating either.
Teachers are taking a bashing and don’t deserve it. They have a very important job in educating our young and impressionable citizens. Registered nurses would be upset if McGunity government did something similar to us.
I am not sure that teachers should be able to bank sick days and cash them out at retirement. What other profession can do that? Nurses don’t have that.
What kind of a pension does a teacher get after retirement? Maybe it is necessary to have a payout of sick days to supplement their pension, I am not really sure. Does anybody know?
Carolyn, good questions. It varies from board to board, but many Ontario boards eliminated cashing out sick days long ago. Teacher pensions are very good compared to CPP (and we pay for them ourselves), though I don’t know how they compare to those of nurses etc. The difference between teacher pensions and those of some other public sector workers is that there is no health insurance coverage, so we buy our own.
You state, “What people mean when they say they pay taxes, our companies provide product and service to generate money for the country. When our salaries are taxed, then you are paid. So in fact we DO pay your salary”. Are you implying that teachers, and others in the education field, do NOT pay taxes, and therefore, are not contributing to their own salaries? If that’s what you think then you are SORELY mistaken. No one is immune from paying taxes, and let me tell you that I wish I was immune.
So if the private sector doesnt generate money through taxes where will the public sector get money? Please wake up teachers you are dependent on the private sector to get paid.
The money you are paid that is taxed, comes from out taxes!
What does a teacher not do? He/she puts up with all kinds of kids, parents, administration, etc. with sanity. He/She works for over 10-12 hours a day to ensure that the curriculum is delivered properly and that the Ministry expectations are followed through. Yes, he/she gets a week off at Christmas, a week off during March break and two months off in the Summer; how many people know that teachers are NOT PAID for all of those days? How many people know that the teachers are not allowed to take even a single day off throughout the year (with some exceptions, of course)? How many people know that most teachers come to school even when they are unwell? How many people know that many teachers devote their time to school children for sports and so many extra-curricular activities and not paid a penny? The teachers in most US states are paid, but teachers in Ontario at least do this from their hearts. How many people realize that teachers have a very stressful life and that they don’t keep teaching the same material year after year? The teachers are being treated very unfairly right now and their democratic rights have been taken away. Teachers have been wishing to sit with the government and peacefully negotiate. They are not fighting for wage freeze, sick days, etc. They simply want to democratically sit down and suggest tons of ways for saving money to the Govt. Premier McGuinty is all about winning elections. He does not care about teachers or many other govt. workers. But he does care about MPP’s, he does not want to cut his or his MPP’s salaries at all. I am what I am only because my teachers whole-heartedly instructed me and taught me good ethical and moral values. I wonder how many people can handle a teacher’s jobs and make a difference in a child’s education?
And you are dependent on teachers to teach the kids that will join you in your “fabulous” private sector. Come join me in my high school science class…then maybe you’ll see how complex my job is. I don’t tell you whether your job is complex…so don’t pretend to know whether mine is or isn’t. I use my educated brain every day, I use my compassion and my patience. I collaborate, present, come up with ways to keep 30 kids, with different needs, engaged. I am a guidance counsellor, a mentor, a coach, a support system, a psychologist…I could go on but won’t since it’s falling on deaf ears. Who are you to decide whether or not my job is complex and worthy of the salary we get? Again, I would NEVER come to you and tell you that your job isn’t complex or isn’t worthy, so please stop coming here and telling us about ours. It’s BALONEY that you would only get 5 days off if God forbid you got cancer…I don’t know who you work for but I have many friends in the private sector who have cancer and other illnesses and receive 100% compensation when they’re off sick. Why don’t we start posting all the companies in Ontario and what they receive in terms of a raise and a bonus for the work they do, and then we can start making comparisons. Until that happens, you have no RIGHT to continue on as you have. Again, I would NEVER tell someone in the private sector that they make too much for the job they do, that they should do their job during the day instead of taking extended “business” lunches, that they’re job isn’t complex, that they aren’t worthy, that I pay their salary by buying their products…the list goes on. It’s called RESPECT and not pretending to KNOW IT ALL.
TJB – again the key difference between you and I, I am posting third party factual statistics and you keep commenting on “people you know”. Clearly you are speaking from bias. Also anyone in the private sector will tell you that the industry standard is 5 sick days, WAKE UP TEACHER! We would then go on short term disability and get reduced pay, the same reduced pay that this author is complaining she can not survive on. This is only if we are lucky enough to get benefits. Not everyone is as lucky as teachers to have pension and sick days and benefits. Do some homework and you will see there is a large contractor, contract and contingent workforce in the private sector in Canada that get NOTHING!!!!
These people who get nothing have to hear your whining. We do not have the right to strike, we do not have the right to bargain for ridiculous benefits that other people pay for…this is why only teachers pity teachers. Yes you teach the kids that go off into the private sector, but if you were not there then someone else would teach them. Also there is alot of education and work that happens after high school that determines what a person’s career is, SO DONT FLATTER yourself.
A nurse posted here who is also a public sector employee who had her wages frozen, she doesnt have months off like teachers do and she works longer hours than a teacher and their jobs are equally important. ARE YOU SAYING YOU ARE BETTER THAN THE NURSES?????
TJB stop talking nonsense -someone needs to say it, TEACHING is not as complex or in demand as a lawyer, accountant or engineer so you do not deserve the salary.
Last but not least, you revamp teaching material every year? All the parents in this forum know that is a lie, 2+2 = 4 this year and it will be the same next year. There are only so many ways you can teach this. You use your brain???? The material changes for very few subjects! To me the elements of water has not changed, Canadian History has not changed, Canadian Geography has not changed.
Teacher are overpaid in Canada and on top of it their whining is a burden on a streched society. What teachers dont realise is inherently they are saying they deserve more than everyone else!!!!
But that’s where you’re wrong…when has a teacher EVER said we deserve more than anyone else or are more important than anyone else? I certainly haven’t. We defend ourselves and that’s all we’re doing. It’s a CONSTANT bashing thanks to the media and the government because you think you know what it’s like to be a teacher. Enough already!
Disagree…would love to know what you do and how much money you make so that I could decide for myself whether you are overpaid? Mayve then we’d be on the same playing field, since you seem to think I am overpaid for what I do. I could then start looking for my own facts about your job and could start bashing what you do and I could then start deciding whether your job is complex or not, and whether you are deserving of your salary or not. How ’bout it?
If disagree doesn’t stop making “a lot” a single word I’m going to lose it.
Finally joining the real world… you’ll enjoy this chuckle: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ca/2010/04/alot-is-better-than-you-at-everything.html
TJB, I can categorically say that I am underpaid for my job – but so is most other people. We are in a recession or do they not have televisions in the teachers lunch room?
You claim you are only fighting for what you have but there is a subtle undertone to that…. YOU HAVE MORE THAN EVERYONE ELSE. So why do you deserve more?
Carolyn: From what I understand, is that paying out sick days was removed from new hires in early 1970’s in my board and that no one in my board has that option left. My friend at another board said only people planning retirement in the next 5 years have it and are really really upset because they had factored this into their retirement finances. As far as I understand this is the same with all boards so the people being affected might be planning to retire in June and just learned they’ve lost some retirement money and may need to work longer. This is also only a small group of teachers in some boards (not sure how many boards, but I’ve referenced 2 of the large ones).
Yes, teachers could bank sick days and it doesn’t seem fair to teachers who have never used a single sick day (and there are a LOT of teachers who never use a sick day) and thought they had this protection if they got sick/cancer/surgery, etc and are now told they were really really stupid for saving them and they have now been taken away. I think grandfathering people in would have gone a long way to making teachers happier.
And lots of people have this banking sick days option, as it is fairly common with government employees. Most people don’t have the pay out option as it seems to have left other government jobs at the same time it left teaching.
Disagree: Are you saying teachers have more than everyone else? Public employees have more than everyone else? Teachers have more than private employees?
The first one is absolutely incorrect.
I do agree that for many jobs I’ve seen that public employees receive more benefits than private employees, especially since tool&dye and the big 3 are not nearly as great of jobs as 15 years ago. I grew up learning that the way to go was get a university degree and work for the government or to make more and get better benefits get into the big 3 if you liked factory work (which is not what I was personally interested in). Not sure how things are after that sector fell apart 10 years ago.
Again, you can only compare jobs that have similar educational requirements and the same employer. So you are one of those people who feel that everyone needs to keep getting paid less and less and receiving less and less benefits. I honestly have had an eye opener lately realizing how many people truly believe that everyone should work for the lowest common denominator.
By no means i am implying that everyone should work for the lowest common denominator but those who have it really good should not complain as it is an insult to everyone else.
Hey Diblog that was a good chuckly, is that the type of lesson plan done during your summer? My 5 year old can do that in about 10 mins.
Dont even compare education requirements, if you dont have an MBA in the private sector in this day, you are going to find it difficult to move, teaching lol, any undergrad and teachers college which is a second degree, learning how to put together a lesson plan hahahah you have to be kidding me. I have a Phd which part of the requirement was teaching Masters students. 100 people in a class with the same different learning requirements and much harder content that any of you high school teachers will ever have to teach. I was also a high school teacher in England for 3 years. Can any of you say the same? Have any of you worked in a real job??
I have lived both sides of the coin and I have great respect for anyone who steps in the room with kids all day everyday but then babysitters and day cares should get the same money!
Teachers are overpaid for what they do(in Canada) and they are becoming a burden to society. Why should we carry these big bills??? I prefer to get dental coverage than pay some gym teacher 80K to teach dodgeball.
What you teachers need to realise is that we bust our butts to generate money and it is taken from us in the form of tax, we should have a say where it is spent!!!!! Your salaries are paid from our salaries!
So when you wine for more vacation when you have the most, more pension when you have the most, more money when you make very good salaries, YOU ARE REACHING INTO THE POCKETS OF EVERY NON TEACHER IN CANADA AND TAKING AWAY FROM US!
If i am paid 1,000,000 a year that does not impact you! My company sells a product and we earn money. If you are paid 1,000,000 then I lose because it is my tax money being squandered!
I wish they privatise schools and let teachers get paid competitive wages and have to perform to get increases, then you will have a real job.
Give it a rest. Neither side is going to convince the other. One thing is for sure. If I were starting out as a teacher, I would save every penny and minimize expenses. In a very short time, teachers will be replaced by technology which is more up to date, accurate and far more efficient at transferring information. Of course there will be exceptions such as special needs children, physical education, etc., but technology will also make inroads there. I would be surprised if teachers don’t start facing massive layoffs with 10 years, especially as their roles become increasingly inefficient. Competition in the education field is badly needed especially with increasing teachers/union demands.
Do you proofread your comments before posting them? You’ve got so many spelling and grammar errors it confuses your argument and renders your points moot, as someone who claims to be so learned and knowledgeable should be able to write complete sentences and spell simple words correctly.
You should pause and reread your comments before hastily clicking “Submit Comment.” Also, only one punctuation mark is ever required. Three question marks or five exclamation marks do nothing to enhance your argument or make your points more forceful. The same is true for using capitals. And, overall, exclamation marks lose their effectiveness when overused…you’ve used nine of them in this single post. In the future, slow down and concentrate on language mechanics.
I can’t evaluate your content as you demonstrate very little original thinking. Most of it seems to be lifted almost word for word from Tim Hudak’s White Paper talking points (although, to your credit, you’ve added the poor grammar, incorrect spellings and generous punctuation peppering).
So, I’m giving your post a D-.
But, not to worry, let’s just consider this your first draft. Revise and re-submit. There are many professionals out there that you could turn to for help with your composition problems. We call them teachers. But, you’ll have to do your part by paying attention to their instruction, practicing until perfection and pausing before posting.
As for your politics…well, you’ve illustrated the difference between education and indoctrination. Maybe you should read something not written by the PCs? You know, to be an informed and articulate member of society. We, as teachers, aren’t going to give up on you. There’s hope for you yet.
Dis A Greed
We’re taking away from you??? How about you blame those in power for taking away from you, not a teacher who’s only trying to teach kids, make a living, support their family, and do a good job!! Start looking at how much those in government are making to see where your tax money is going and being blown. The attitude that you’re losing to pay a teacher’s salary is disgusting…I feel sorry for your 5 year old…you better quit your job and homeschool your child cause it’s gonna be a long few years in the school system!
You’re underpaid for what you do? What gives you the right to say that?
Oh and I wouldn’t know about a TV in the staff room as I am never in there.
TJB – i dont need to pay you 80K plus a year to teach my kid dodgeball rules or 2+2=4. I will gladly take a reduced tax initiative from the government and pay for my child to be taught properly.
Instead we have people teaching the future to be lazy and greedy. We are in a budget deficit and teachers want to cost taxpayers another $450 million!
You want to contribute to society, get the older teachers to stop being leeches and retire so the younger generation of teachers can get jobs. This will also reduce the cost of teacher. In addition to that join the group that is trying to keep Canada stable, so check your greed at the door. Teachers are behaving no different than the 1% of CEOs and top earners in Canada who only care about 1 thing, themselves!
Yup, I only care about myself…you finally got something right. How about you go and spend some time with yi
…with your five year old so that we don’t end up having to teach him/her what you should be at home.
Why teachers get 20 “sick” days. It also touches on some other issues.
Worth the read.
People seem to forget that teachers are taxpayers too!!! It’s the government that should be the target of all this anger regarding the deficit……not teachers who are only doing the job that they have been hired to do. If people think that teachers have it so “easy”…they should have gone into that profession. Both my son and daughter-in-law are public school teachers, and they have worked in some extremely stressful situations. They deserve every penny they make and then some.
Great Blog – well thought out – I am amazed by the number of people that feel it is okay to bash, insult, name call one another on this blog. I truly appreciated Mark’s comments of Sept 7 @ 11:06 – again well thought out and very articulate!
Beverly, we all deserve more – the problem teachers are missing is that we are all being underpaid and then our taxes are being squandered on a group of people that do not want to go through the same cuts as the rest of the country. Why do they deserve more?
Who gets to roll over sick days?
Who has guaranteed employment?
Who has guaranteed increases?
Who does not work a full year?
Cry me a river. Teachers have had it good for too long, in case none you realise, the majority of the population is not in support of your case, many people are very happy for this. The general consensus is that the teachers union have bullied us for long enough, we are ready to take a stance and fight this cancer.
You have good benefits and pension, you have good pay, your union is bully.
We are proud of the Canadian government for once. The average Canadian making their $50,000 a year with no benefits because they are on contract is finally happy. We all work long hours, we all have stressful jobs. We are not all big babies.
This union needs to fall. Teacher need to be accountable for the economy and for their performance.
I do blame the government for wasting my taxes to a low skilled job where there is an oversupply. Have any of you taken economics? When supply of the labour force increases what does that do the salaries???? Why do all of us have to live this but you self entitled whiners dont???
I pray the union falls or they privatize the school system like the health system. Then you all have to put in an honest day’s work. Not claim coaching from 2:30 to 5:30 as soooo hard…..wah wah wah. Tell this to the nurse that work 4 12 hour shifts in a row SAVING LIVES!!!! This nurse does not have your big salaries and your vacation and your sick days!!!
WAKE UP, THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF YOUR UNION IS COMING. Do you really think you will get back sick days? LOL – go read a history book
On one hand you seem to be asking for an argument, for people to engage with the points you are presenting. On the other hand, you demonstrate an attitude that is closed-minded and full of blind, unsubstantiated generalizations, which leads me to believe that you are not actually up for a productive discussion. After all, you have steadfastly ignored the information provided in the comments regarding the realities of work hours, how summers are used, actual salaries, sick days and “early retirement”, etc.
You have also failed to realize that we are not asking for pity, nor do we feel that we’re better than other people, nor are we attacking anyone. Re-read what you have written. It is you who are doing all of those things.
You say you taught for three years. If you found the job to be low-complexity, and if your curriculum remained the same each year, then you were one of the bad teachers. No job in which you are required to personally meet the needs of 15-35 people at once is low-complexity – unless, of course, you don’t give a crap about those needs. If your concept of teachers comes from what kind of teacher you were, well, no wonder you’re this angry.
Your rage is so tiresome to readers that I can only imagine it must be downright exhausting for you, and yet you keep returning to share the same points over and over… and over. I don’t know what has happened to you to make you so poisonous, but you obviously have some issues that need help. I truly hope you are, on some level, a better person than you have shown yourself to be here.
So far, for the sake of discussion, I have read and approved every single comment on this post that has made it through my spam filter – even yours, so rife with hatred, rudeness, and petulance. You have now been given many, many opportunities, and have still failed to engage in anything resembling a productive dialogue. You can’t seem to stop talking, or start listening.
In all sincerity, if you can offer any constructive points that have not already been presented – and responded to – multiple times in these comments, I would love to hear them. If you instead choose to continue in your position as a classic troll, I will delete any further comments from you. It’s your choice.
P.S. I am afraid some of your websites have some “facts” wrong (e.g. National Post) – and some illustrate the opposite of your point (e.g. Maclean’s). Next time you encourage us to “do some research”, please ensure yours is not faulty.
P.P.S. Perhaps you should enroll your child in school in the U.S. You’ll feel much better paying 7-10K per year direct from your pocket.
Although i still disagree with you, this is your blog and I should operate within its parameters. You critcize the sources I present yet not one teacher here has provided one valuable piece of information to support their claims other than their own biased view.
I will not be surprised if you delete me as myself and other posters have commented, anyone who doesnt drink the self entitled Kool Aid is not welcome here.
Long story short, I do agree with your comment that I should present new arguments other than what i have posted thus far but you just commenting that you think my sources are wrong(while providing no explanation to how or why) is not an appropriate way to address them. It essentially is a childish way to deflect facts from third party sources.
That’s a bit more civil, Disagree. Good for you. Hence, your comment is still here, despite your repetition of the Kool Aid line. I guess you figured it was witty. Actually, I guess using the word “self-entitled” after posting thirteen other ranting comments IS a little bit funny.
I’m happy to address your sources now that you have indicated that I wouldn’t be wasting my time, i.e. you want to know. Your National Post article that talks about cashing out sick days at retirement is using out-of-date information – this has not been true in many Ontario boards, including mine, since before I even entered the profession (8 years ago).
You link to the pay grid for the Toronto DSB secondary teachers, which is accurate but misleading; Toronto has one of the highest pay scales in the province, because the cost of living in Toronto is so high; also, secondary teachers are paid more highly than elementary teachers (and there are fewer of them), so if you use this grid to talk about “averages” for teachers in Ontario, your reasoning is flawed.
Your Canadian Business link ends at “Page not found”.
I’m not sure why you linked to PayScale Canada, since it doesn’t mention teachers on the page – you would have to have very specific information about someone’s placement and experience to make use of this page to prove a point.
Your Macleans link puts lawyers at #4 for salary and teachers at #15, below the average, so it doesn’t support your argument that teachers make more than lawyers. If you really do believe that teachers are making 75K by age 30, you can put your mind to rest because honestly, in reality, this doesn’t happen. Countless teachers don’t even have a permanent contract by then, are not at A4 on the grid, and/or work part-time. Your link about the discrepancy between supply and demand is accurate – it is indeed difficult for new teachers to find work in Ontario. I know many of them would agree with your argument that teachers who are eligible to retire should do so.
As well, job security for teachers is not what it appears to be. In addition to all the temporary contracts that are not guaranteed, even permanent teachers with up to ten years’ experience have been pink-listed in recent years due to shrinking enrollment across the province. Families just aren’t having as many children as they used to, and it’s an issue that makes supply and demand for teachers a uniquely tricky situation.
But the thing that should really make you feel better at this point is that so many of your wishes were granted before you even first commented on this blog. Pay cuts, pay grid in limbo, sick days halved, banked days gone, even right to strike eliminated. Basically, you win. So really, I don’t know what you’re doing here complaining when you should be CELEBRATING.
To the author of the original article, you presented some extremely valid and relevant points. Those who found ‘arrogance’ or ‘bias’ in your writing are obviously transparent. Unfortunately we live in an age where the media in its entirety will spread misinformation to consolidate corporate interests. The only way that they can carry the fight against teachers is by inciting jealousy, demonstrating a misrepresentation of the facts, and through sheer generalizations. Is there some negative aspects of a union? Yes, and in our case it protects some very bad teachers from ultimately, and deservedly losing their jobs; however, there will always be rotten apples on a tree (in every profession). What people fail to realize, in a grander context, is that the assault on teachers is only the beginning. After the teachers have been tamed, next will come the auto workers, after the auto workers, perhaps it will be nurses, and so on and so forth. The ironic thing is, everybody wants a great education for themselves and their children, but they are unwilling to pay for it! For those that are anti-union, I really pity you. Every job should be unionized in my opinion. We have given big businesses way too much power and control and they have bought our government. Private sector jobs are competitive now, however; once unions start to vanish, the incentive to pay employees a competitive salary will disappear. This will lead towards two potential outcomes: A new labor movement will begin, or we will go back to become serfs and all the progress we’ve made in the early and mid 20th Century will fall by the wayside.
Thank you for your articulate comments. In Saskatchewan we are in the last year of a contract that we were already one year into when we signed it. Although teachers are joking about getting jobs in the spring at Walmart and cutting grass when the inevitable strike happens, the sad reality is some will be forced to go to those extremes. My first question to those who mock teaching as a lazy, easy profession with more time off than anyone deserves is “so go teach!!!” The response is ALWAYS “oh, you couldn’t pay me enough to make me do that job”. That usually ends the conversation.
We don’t teach for the money. We don’t teach for the fame. But shouldn’t we get the same standard of living as comparable professions? And, as Ontario teachers are asked to take a pay freeze, is that also being applied to the government positions?
Ok, I won’t launch into a rant – the reality it’s all been said, and some folks will choose to only believe the government perspective. Teachers, keep doing what you do. Be proud of what you give your students, your school, and your community.
Jody, so sorry to hear this. I guess teachers are scapegoats in every province. 🙁
Your post was forwarded to me by an old friend and fellow teacher. It meant so much to me to see something positive (and truthful) said about teachers that I forwarded it to my Branch President and District President, who in turn forwarded it to our district members in OSSTF.. Thanks for what you wrote…it cheered up a lot of teachers today.
Chris, thank you for sharing, and for telling me this. I’m really, really glad this has cheered up some of my fellow teachers… since it’s all too easy for us, as a group, to feel crappy right now.
Then what do you do about a $13 billion deficit? Kick the can down the road and put that problem on the backs of your kids? Remember in 2008 the ETFO was the only union that turned down the %12 raise over 4 years. I believe they ended up with %11.5. Face it, the union wants to stall so the contracts roll over and the raises continue. Then, when December\January rolls around and secondary students are about to write exams, then a strike would happen. We all know that.
My job: Paramedic
My Pay: About what teacher make
My Sick Days: 10, no more – no less. I cannot bank them, they expire every year. I am constantly exposed to diseases and germs worse then your average child carries, and often directly exposed to blood/vomit/feces/urine/weapons/violence/etc.
Basically, I agree you should get a cost of living increase but I think it’s about time to be realistic about your sick days. Keep all your earn, but use them! No other profession is allowed to keep all their sick time until retirement. THEY ARE SICK DAYS (for when you are SICK) not “get out of jail two years early” days.
You speak of being condescending, your ads about being there for our kids and that our kids will suffer if the government gets their way is way more condescending. The issues here are simply about money, not our kids or your ability to do the job you signed on for. Now, I in no way am stating the teachers are making this about more money…I simply mean the money (more or less of it) is at the heart of the issue from both sides.
I think everyone, government and teachers, need to grow up and come to terms reality. Money is scarce and everyone needs to do their part to help out. Trying to sway public opinion is not the way to go, you must adapt to public opinion. Government needs to scale back their pay and costs, but teachers need to realize that they have it better than many other professions and seriously what do you REALLY need to do your job. Lets work together people!
Disagree: I’m not sure who has roll over sick days still, but I would bet a lot of people do. The windsor/essex health unit nurses just lost their ability to bank sick days BUT they grandfathered it in so they still have their bank but can’t add more too it. Also, those hired in the 1980’s or earlier still have the ability to get paid out for their sick days upon retirement.
Since their contract was expired for 2 years they DID NOT receive pay raises (I think you mentioned you think teachers will get pay raises if a contract isn’t in place), but have had a pay freeze for the past 2 years while negotiating the contract. The government caved on the day they were to strike (september 6th) and for their 5 years they have a 2 year pay freeze (already done) and now have 1.5% pay increase the next 3 years.
They went from 18 sick days to only 12 BUT older workers still have their bank and can still cash out at retirement (remember most school boards did away with that in the 1970’s so 99% of teachers don’t have that/well now none do). Also, they don’t have sick day harassement policies, lol. Meaning they were actually allowed to use all 18 sick days without receiving nasty letters or if doing it too many times without good reason that they get up to level 4 – so next time they use too many they will be fired (hows that for job security? if you use all 20 sick days too many times then you will be fired! I’ve heard the harassment would start if you used more then 9.5 in a year).
So, your asking who else has these things? Well, most or all public employees.
A woman on another board sent me a PM and said 5 years ago(quit to be stay at home mom) at CAS she was getting 24 sick days and could bank them and get them paid out at retirement.
I agree that everyone knew the contract would stay the same or a little worse, but it was expected to be close to what the windsor health unit got (pay freeze or even small pay cut, maybe down to 15 sick days and no longer be allowed to bank, but could keep the bank you had and those few teachers about to retire could still get their pay out). Interestingly I’m discussing the 2nd lowest paid Health unit nurses!!! Not sure if the others have better benefits, but they do get paid more.
I haven’t read through most of the more recent posts, but…
I am 33 years old and other than taking 2 years off after university to have a baby, I have done everything to get into/advance in teaching. I make $25,000-$35,000 a year (actually I worked at scholars choice full-time for a few weeks in summer and then part-time evenings for a few months when I made $35,000).
I finished OAC, took 4 year degree, then 2 years off, then teacher’s college (so at best could have finished at 24). After 2 years of trying to get supply work in southwestern ontario (I graduated the year that hiring started to drop everywhere) I went 14 hours north to work/live on a native reserve, got into a school board 7 hours away and finished out the year, these experiences got me into my current school board (only 2 hours from friends/family). I’ve now been here 4 years and have had part-time LTO’s, and the rest is supply. Unless, a teacher has french or some needed subject (music or a needed highschool subject) they are all in the same boat with me.
Teachers then have to have 10 years experience as a contract teacher to get to the top of the pay grid (as well as 5 courses or 3-part specialist courses to get to the higher pay row). So, at best they graduated at 24, and then take about 2 years to get a supply job if they really volunteer hard and get lucky, then about 5 years to get contract (usually about 5-8 years)- they are at best 31, NOW they start to use the pay grid.
Melissa, just so you know… Once you do get a permanent contract, make sure you have documentation from the board(s) you have taught in, because it is possible to get credit on the grid for time spent teaching, even if it wasn’t as a contract teacher, or with the same board, or even within the public system. LTOs, private school teaching, etc. are (obviously) still valuable experience in the profession and that is recognized if you have documents for it.
Interesting, I just noticed what you said about nurses in hospitals don’t make as much. I have to find that hilarious because a few of my friends moms/sisters do that and they make WAY more than the average teacher (well the sister works in the US so not really comparable), but the others make a ton although they’ve been at their job a long time. Although, that could be because they can get the option to work more hours.
If we are talking nurses in hospitals with 4 year university degrees then they probably make the same as teachers, if I assume they are starting the same and then the ones I know have had many years of pay increases.
Most of my friends who took the 17 week college course and work in nursing homes only make about $15-20/hour and it took a long time to get full-time hours, and they get good benefits (although not sure what as I never asked before).
(to add onto my above post about being over 30 – I also do not receive any benefits until I get contract)
My post (#144) from earlier had responses by diblog and torn and I would like to share my thoughts on your responses.
diblog…you made all very good points and I understand your position, your comment about how to respond to the government that “this is not okay”? I am hopeful that the reason for teachers pulling away from activities is not about sending a message to the government, because they don’t care, but my kids do 🙁
torn…you made a comment about being a busy mother (which I fully understand), and questioning who’s children should take priority? Yours or someone else’s? Surely anyone would support you in not wishing to participate in extra activites because you are busy with your own children…but that’s not why teacher’s are pulling away right now.
Last night I sat around a table with parents that sit on our school council. A group of mothers that ALL work full time, All have 3 or more children, and have VERY busy lives outside of their jobs. Mothers that come and discuss and problem solve on how to make the school better, how they can help and make a difference…not one of the 3 teachers that sit on this council, attended!
It was also shared with my 13 year old son by his grade 8 teacher, that there will be no sports offered this year, and no grade 8 trip due to the latest government legislation. This legislation is in place for what…2 years?…so how long will the teacher’s be holding out?
My husband and I sat down with our very upset 13 year old last night trying to explain to him why the changes have occurred and the reasons behind the legislation and the reasons why his teachers are upset. We talked about unions, the benefits and drawbacks.
My son sat and listened and asked a lot of questions, and we did our best to explain the situation in a way that did not paint anyone in a negative light as to not influence his own ideas that he will have as he grows and learns about life.
At the end of our discussion, our son asked us, so I am confused what this has to do with me, and why I can’t play basketball or go on a trip that I have been waiting for since grade 6?….good question son 🙁
Teachers have been asked to be part of “McGuinty Mondays”, which means not attending any school-related meetings on Mondays. That is why there were no teachers in attendance at your Monday meeting.
Teachers know as well as anyone that volunteerism keeps communities going. Oftentimes, we end up doing activities with/for our students to the exclusion of other volunteer activities, including those at our own children’s schools. Most of the time, we do this joyfully, because we know how much it means to the kids.
The only trouble with this is, once the school community starts to take these activities for granted, then they are not exactly voluntary anymore. It becomes a question not of “whether” teachers will do this or that activity, but “which” teacher(s) will do it. People forget that these activities have to be subject to teachers’ skills, availability, health, and, yes, goodwill. I’ve noticed that at my school, the list of “volunteer” activities that teachers do gets longer each year, even at times when the staff has shrunk. I think it’s amazing and inspiring, but still – there is only so much a finite group of people can do.
Imagine this same scenario at your job – being expected to do valuable extra work for free on a regular basis. If it was important, I’m sure you would do it. Now imagine that the government and large numbers of the public began vilifying you and how you do your job (if you’ve read the comments here, you know that “vilifying” is actually a pretty mild word) – that the government did not allow for proper discussion of options, and then legislated away your ability to fight back. If you can’t imagine it, I’ll tell you: it makes you feel like crap. It makes you feel like, “Why do I bother?” And it leaves very little in the way of recourse.
I agree it’s awful that your son is so upset. My heart goes out to him, and to you for having to figure out what to say. I really appreciate your efforts to speak to your son with respect for the parties involved. I can tell you, if I were not on maternity leave right now, I would truly hate having to make the choice between standing up for my job and producing a yearbook, choreographing the school musical, etc. All of those things are important.
If you really want to express displeasure, it would be more useful to direct it toward your MPP, because this would not be happening at all if we had had the chance to negotiate properly with our school boards. Also, if you are interested, here is an article written by a dad (and law prof) who talks about how he explained it to his son: http://www.yorku.ca/ddoorey/lawblog/?p=5548
I hope this helps.
i found one of the comments in the article you posted to be quite interesting
Bill Glisky says:
2012.09.17 at 4:13 pm
Another minor point is that teachers have long included their “voluntary” work when justifying need for pay raises, prep periods and two-month long summer vacations. Further, traditionally it has been teacher’s unions who have fought against the principle of coaches and supervisors being paid. That leads to the frustration of people feeling teachers are asking to have it both ways — it’s part of the job when they need it to be and not part of the job when they don’t.
I cant qualify this but i understand the point.
Disagree, you’re right, that IS a good point by Bill, if it’s true. In my experience, the union hasn’t cited extracurriculars as justification for pay raises – but it’s possible they did in the past, before my time. I’m less inclined to believe the assertion about prep periods and summer vacations, since prep periods are designed to be exactly that – time to plan, mark, create materials, do one-on-one assessment with students, etc. There’s never a shortage of things to do during that time. As for summer vacations, or smaller chunks of vacation that add up to essentially the same amount (as some other countries do it) – the students need that time as much as the teachers. The kids need time to just be kids. (As for what teachers do with the time, it’s already been discussed enough in this forum.)
Heather, there is absolutely nothing stopping the principal and vice-principal and some parent volunteers from taking the students on the Grade 8 trip. We have community coaches at our school, one of whom is a school board trustee. There are solutions.
Pulling out of extra-curriculars on my part is not a tactic to get my way but rather a response to the new salary and working conditions I am now placed under, and the lack of collective bargaining rights. If I have a limited number of sick days now, after many years of giving back 18 to the board, I am not willing to do a thing extra that could cause me to be injured or exhausted and run down, leading to illness. Is there a chance that I would be just fine? Yes there is, but my family’s well-being comes first. I have only 10 days to work with, so I am unwilling to take any chances with my health. The part of my job that I get paid for easily takes 50 hours per week. That’s what I will continue to do.
Judging from the uproar over teachers not doing extra-curriculars, it is easy to see that over the years it has become expected and not appreciated as the gift of time that it was. In the middle of report cards, do you think coaches get an extension? No, they don’t. In fact, if you let your principal know that you are run down and exhausted from putting in too many hours in with extra-curriculars, the principal’s response is that you don’t need to do the extras.
So there you have it. My hours have been frozen as they are, in order to pay for full-day kindergarten.
If your understanding of teaching is simply ‘transferring information’, then you really need to reflect upon that. I could review a website about quantum physics, but it does not mean that I would actually comprehend, never mind be able to apply, the concepts in a meaningful way. I certainly hope that the doomsday scenario you present never comes to fruition.
So, have been reading the article and the comments and I wanted to weigh in.
First and foremost, I appreciate what teachers do, and I used to be one so lets clear that up right now – teachers, like other humans deserve recognition for the job they do.
The problem today is from many angles…
– Teachers feeling a sense of entitlement and that likely stems from the fact that teachers have always gotten most of what was asked for. In the real world, people aren’t protected by a grid, we have to truly earn our wages by performing well in our jobs – we get better, our pay gets better. In the real world, if the economy is bad and salary increases are not happening – that’s life. In the real world, unions have no place any more – they were originally put in place to ensure safety of workers and that rights were defended, but in today’s world it’s not necessary.
If the union was gone and teachers were forced to perform to a standard and measured against that standard – then we would have some very highly paid teachers – pay that would be well earned. We would also be able to weed out those that really should seek other careers. This would allow us to ensure we really do have the best education system.
I see more and more people moving to a sense of entitlement – i.e. someone owes “me”. In all my life, several jobs – I have never once complained about my pay, never felt that my employer owed me anything and I’ve always been able to continue living watching those around me decide what is and isn’t fair.
If someone told me I wasn’t going to get a pay increase or loose some of my benefits (which happens more often in the real world than most think) I would try to appreciate the point of view of my employer and if I truly couldn’t live with it – I’d find a new employer or career.
I have many friends who are still teachers and I have a lot of trouble supporting them from this side of the fence – but don’t misread me – I do respect that teachers will have an opinion. I just don’t agree with the stance. Anyone who makes the move from teaching into a non-union protected, performance related job will quickly be challenged in their role (professional or otherwise). Just attaching the word professional to a career doesn’t mean that your salary will match… I’m a certified professional on a global scale and my salary certainly is not in line with “the grid”.
Just Another Professional, thanks for your comment.
In case you’re not aware, teachers are evaluated according to specific standards on a regular basis… but it’s a very tricky thing, because as soon as another person enters a classroom to evaluate, the classroom dynamic changes. (That is to say, among other issues, that “catching” the bad teachers teaching badly is a challenge.) Honestly, I don’t know what would be the best way to evaluate the performance of teachers, but I agree it’s necessary.
It also sounds like you have known many teacher-complainers in your day, which is a shame. If you can believe it, I am personally as bothered by excessive complaining and a sense of entitlement as you are (from anyone – teachers, students, public and private sector… even some without jobs). What gets me down especially is people who don’t know me feeling entitled to call me nasty names whenever my contract expires. That is what inspired this blog post. As such, I really appreciate your ability to express your opinion without making it personal or offensive.
Be careful “Just Another Professional” – you get barked at in this forum if you suggest that private sector performance base standards and salaries get implemented in the public sector.
The recession has come and Canada did well to “survive it”, I wonder why the private sector is now growing in the right direction yet our public sector is costing more and more money and becoming less effecient.
People have said it multiple times, teachers dont realise that their “grid” is much richer than what most Canadians with equal or better education has to put up with. What is even worse is the average increase for a stong performer is 3% or in a really good company 5%.
The root of the problem is teachers know nothing outside their field, so you will see many comments like “i know this one person” or “i spoke to this one friend”, whereas we in the private sector know exactly what teachers make because it is published. Essentially they are not qualified nor do they have the relevent sources to defend so they lash out.
They complain about coaching or field trips while the private sector you are doing 2 jobs with the pay of barely one. Therefore you are fighting a losing battle trying to explain this to them. The response generally is because the private sector gets less, doesnt mean that teacher should get less. The reality is everyone works very hard but the teachers union has bullied the government for a very long time. If you read any financial section today you will see the average canadian is taking a cut with pension, benefits and salary. No one likes this but we are adults and we recognise it is essential to sustain our economy and we are happy to have jobs unlike other countries.
Teachers dont seem to be on the same page. They just dont get that all the people taking cuts have to fund their banking of sick days, they dont get that all the cuts that they are so disgusted by is actually more than the average private sector employee gets today.
“So there you have it. My hours have been frozen as they are, in order to pay for full-day kindergarten.”
A few things:
a) As a teacher, if I don’t like my salary, working conditions, etc…I cannot talk to my boss, I cannot tell him/her what I expect, I cannot sell myself and prove what an amazing job I’m doing. If in the private sector you weren’t happy with your job, you’d pick up and leave and find something better. Or you NEGOTIATE. This is what our unions try to do for us because we are qualified teachers and can’t just up and move to a better company.
b) McGunity decided to implement full-day daycare…oops, I mean full-day kindergarten. There are families at the moment who are getting free daycare while others are still having to pay because full-days haven’t been implemented in their schools yet. Explain the equity in that one?
c) When you are bashed and lashed out on, and treated like garbage, why would you even want to do anything above and beyond? Again, the reason we defend ourselves is just that, a defense…you don’t say anything negative, you won’t hear a peep out of us.
d) I love how the lies keep flowing on here…paramedic, PhD, private sector worker…which is it? You said you had five sick days and now you’re saying you get ten.
e) Please, measure me against a standard…then maybe we’d be paid for all the extras we do…until then, we teach…because as some have put it, all we do is teach dodgeball and 2+2, and of course we don’t help raise children…we are just teachers…so now we will teach. If your child is getting bullied…sorry, I’m just a teacher with a low complexity job. If your child comes crying to me about his Dad beating him…sorry, I’m just a teacher with a low complexity job. If you child comes out of the closet and feels like the entire world is caving in on him…sorry, I’m just a teacher with a low complexity job. If your child got arrested during lunch for doing drugs and wants me to be there to meet with you…sorry.
TJB, just so you know… there are two commenters who have called themselves Disagree – I adjusted one to say Disagree 2 to differentiate (that’s the paramedic).
Teachers are professionals who deserve respect…we teach respect and to not judge…yet that’s all that keeps happening here…no respect and constant judgement, when we never, at least not myself or my colleagues, disrespect or judge other professions/jobs because who are we to do that? Whether you have an issue with our sick days, our unions, our summers “off”…regardless…the issue is the lack of respect for a group of individuals who are constantly needing to defend themselves because of the media’s portrayal. Someone mentioned wanting a top quality education but not willing to pay for it…you want the best teacher for your kid, the best school, the best sports team…but you’re not willing to pay for it! You are willing to pay $25 for a half hour skating/swimming/music lesson, or $60 an hour for a tutor, or $50 a day for daycare for each child (I have MUCH respect for day care providers, tutors, and private swimming/skating instructors, but they make more than teachers hourly)…you are willing to pay them their salary but not willing for your “taxes” to “pay” ours. Come on.
TJB – there are managers who have to do all the things you said you have to do. Because employees are adults, doesnt mean they dont have problems.
Secondly there are many professionals that deal with kids in the same way, nurses, councellors, social workers etc. yet none of those professions have the generous salaries that teachers have or the generous vacations. We all work more than 40-50 hours a week.
WHY ARE TEACHERS BETTER THAN MOST OF CANADA?(see link at end of post)
Of the 24.5 million returns filed, 18 million Canadians reported total income of $50,000 or less. That’s not a typo. In other words, ignoring individuals who don’t file returns such as children, nearly 75% of tax-filing Canadians earned under $50,000 in total income in 2009.
Add another 5 million Canadians who reported total income of between $50,000 and $100,000 and you conclude that about 95% of individuals have income below $100,000 annually.
What about Canada’s highest income earners? 880,000 Canadians reported income in the range of $100,000 to $150,000, 333,000 reported incomes between $150,000 and $250,000 and a mere 174,000 of tax return filing Canadians or 0.7% had income over $250,000.
WHY DO YOU DESERVE THE BEST OF EVERYTHING? Best pension, best benefits, best pay, best time off?
Why do you deserve to tell the other professions you deserve more? Teachers dont like to hear it but
(1) Your union can bully the government because it is no driven by profit. Most unions meet in a middle ground because they realise if they drive costs up too much then the company will be non profitable and people will lose jobs
(2) The private sector pays your salary. No, I am not saing you dont pay taxes, but your salary is paid from the taxes from the private sector
(3) You speak of the big salaries, but do your homework. That is a very small demographic of canada who makes over $100,000/year
(4) A teacher with 10 years of servce(approx 32 years old) in level 4 of the grid can make $100,000 a year. Teachers are the only people who believe their jobs warrants more than 95% of Canada.