Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Teachers get paid too much!

“You teachers get paid too much already. Why are you striking for more?”

Someone actually said this. And this is probably the main reason why we go on strike. It happens every time we go into pay negotiations. The government go in with an offer at the bottom end. The unions ask for something completely over the top. Nobody budges. We go on strike. The general public tell us we’re already earning more than we should, as glorified babysitters, and the proverbial hits the fan.

Nobody likes being told that the career that they have decided to make their own is worthless. Everybody knows that the job that they do is vital to the running of the community. I imagine that I would be quite dismissive if the Paparazzi Union was calling for more money, but apart from that, most sectors of the workforce do a fantastic job for what is probably not enough money.

Apart from CEOs of massive corporations. And the politicians who are telling us we’re worthless.

But I’m a teacher. And so I’m going to focus on my problems and my gripes now. Listen if you will. Share this if you agree. Leave nasty comments if you don’t. I have some big burly year nine students I can send around to your house to argue the point.

“Teachers get into work at 9 and leave at 3.15!”

Uh huh. Ri-ight. I left home this morning before seven, as I always do (except for the mornings I do the student radio show and leave home at 5.45). In at work by 8. I plan on leaving at 5 tonight, and calling it an early one. I’ll be in on Saturday from 9am until after 5.

“Ah, but this is a special event – you’re doing a school production (Super! It’ll be great. Tell your friends)!”

Yes, but as a teacher, the special events keep coming. I’m involved in:

–           debating (at least 5 nights out over weeks, plus planning)

–          The Writing club

–          Public speaking

–          The production

–          Parent teacher evenings

–          Taking results for Sports meets at night

–          Information nights (many MANY information nights)

–          School camps


Which other profession has you working 24 hours a day for a week in a supervisory role? At a co-ed school, we’d sleep in shifts, to make sure someone was up all night for checking rooms and the like!

“You get twelve weeks of school holidays!”

Who gets twelve weeks of holidays? I know I don’t! I get twelve non-teaching weeks, which is not the same thing. I spend at least one week of each holiday marking work and planning tasks for the next term, making sure that my students have the best education they can get. And then, when we do get to go on holidays, flights and accommodation cost double because – what do you know – it’s school holiday time!

But back to the original question:

“You teachers get paid too much already. Why are you striking for more?”

We’re not. At this point in time, we’re striking for some basic respect.

“The Premier’s promise could not have been clearer – he would make teachers “not the worst paid, the best paid”.

Read more:

We are being offered a 2.5% increase in pay, if and only if, we also accept the following concessions:

  1. An extra hour a week teaching.
  2. All professional development to be undertaken during holidays.
  3. An extra week in school for school support officers.
  4. There is no longer an automatic increase in pay.
  5. Teachers will be paid bonuses instead of wage increases.

Now that last one sounds ok, if you’re a good teacher. You do a good job, you get a bonus. What could be simpler. However:

–          The principal has to pick the top ten per cent of teachers for a 10% bonus.

–          The next 40% get a 6% bonus

–          The bottom 20% don’t get a bonus.

–          At least 5% of teachers are not allowed to go up in pay each year at each school.

This is incredibly divisive. It is a hard choice for the principal, especially at a small school. And if every teacher at a school is doing a great job, what happens then?

I know I can live on what I earn now. It is the rare teacher who does the job for the money. But I hate the thought that we are dismissed simply because we are willing to do the job at a wage that proves to the general public that we are not professionals.

Finally, a couple of people who have said it better:

A petition to make Ted keep his promise to teachers

Teachers should be paid as babysitters


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6 thoughts on “Teachers get paid too much!

  1. “Which other profession has you working 24 hours a day for a week in a supervisory role? ”

    Scout/Guide leaders at a major event like a Jamboree. I’ve done it several times for national Ventures. And we have to pay for the privilege of being there.

    Yes, generally speaking the kids are probably better behaved that a miscellaneous school lot, and there are a /lot/ of adults sharing the supervisory responsibility.

    I guess that I can probably afford to be a Scout leader because my normal job pays me fairly well 🙂

    (I also know plenty of teachers who are also Scout leaders… they are just suckers for punishment)

    I wish you all the best in getting a decent bit of respect from your government and the pay rise you all deserve. Teaching is not an easy profession, but it’s a necessary one, and all teachers deserve respect from their students, their students’ parents, and the community at large.

  2. We’ve looked at a school locally with 2 teachers… One doubles as Principle.
    Just saying.

    • dlidgett on said:

      That sounds like my school, though we have 3 teachers including our principal. The very idea that we should be ranked by skill or effort for pay is infuriating.
      There’s only 3 of us!
      1 principal, 1 excellent literacy coordinator/Prep/LOTE teacher and me.
      Even when I’m brilliant (which I like to think is quite often) I still come in third!

      Does that make me the bottom 5%?
      Or am I safe because I’m actually 30% of the teaching staff? (well 33.33333% to be exactish).

      • dlidgett on said:

        Make that the bottom 20%, not 5%.
        It sounds better, but that’s 1 in 5 teachers!
        1 in 5 teachers who won’t receive recognition no matter how hard they work.
        1 in 5 teachers who will be looking for work elsewhere…

  3. I did a 45 minute presentation at a high school a couple of weeks ago and the thought of having to prepare material all day everyday that not only engages but motivates and teaches the incredibly diverse array of abilities and behaviours including working with kids that are apathetic rude or both sent shivers down my spine. teachers should be paid a much better starting wage with extra bonuses for exceptional teaching, it is one of the worlds most challenging professions.

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