babble-intro-img
babble is rabble.ca's discussion board but it's much more than that: it's an online community for folks who just won't shut up. It's a place to tell each other — and the world — what's up with our work and campaigns.

The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries

Mr.Tea
Offline
Joined: Jul 9 2011

blank


Comments

Mr.Tea
Offline
Joined: Jul 9 2011

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/opinion/01eggers.html?_r=1

At the moment, the average teacher's pay is on par with that of a toll taker or bartender. Teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education. In real terms, teachers' salaries have declined for 30 years. The average starting salary is $39,000; the average ending salary - after 25 years in the profession - is $67,000. This prices teachers out of home ownership in 32 metropolitan areas, and makes raising a family on one salary near impossible.

So how do teachers cope? Sixty-two percent work outside the classroom to make ends meet. For Erik Benner, an award-winning history teacher in Keller, Tex., money has been a constant struggle. He has two children, and for 15 years has been unable to support them on his salary. Every weekday, he goes directly from Trinity Springs Middle School to drive a forklift at Floor and Décor. He works until 11 every night, then gets up and starts all over again. Does this look like "A Plan," either on the state or federal level?

We've been working with public school teachers for 10 years; every spring, we see many of the best teachers leave the profession. They're mowed down by the long hours, low pay, the lack of support and respect.

 


Jacob Two-Two
Offline
Joined: Jan 16 2002

This is intentional. Like many other public professions, the plan is to break the system so that the private sector can take over.


infracaninophile
Offline
Joined: Aug 31 2011

Anyone have comparable figures for Canada? I seem to recall the salary and retention rates are better here (which isn't to say that the same factors are not at play) but my information is mostly from anecdotal sources.  


ikosmos
Offline
Joined: May 8 2001

Mr.Tea
Offline
Joined: Jul 9 2011

infracaninophile wrote:

Anyone have comparable figures for Canada? I seem to recall the salary and retention rates are better here (which isn't to say that the same factors are not at play) but my information is mostly from anecdotal sources.  

I don't have stats in front of me but my anecdotal evidence supports the American experience. I have quite a few friends who went into teaching and left very quickly because they just can't make a good enough living as teachers. I live in Toronto where the cost of living is pretty high. A teacher's starting salary (when they graduated, which wasn't all that long ago) was under $40K per year. Many still had student loans to pay off, so when you add up student loans, take off taxes, take off union dues and everything else, they were left with very little money. I have a very good friend who loves to teach and who I'm sure is great at it. The reason he's able to keep doing it is that in addition to his teaching degree, he has a commerce degree from U of T and spends his summers working on Bay Street as a financial analyst nd earns about as much in a summer as he does teaching the rest o hte year


Fidel
Offline
Joined: Apr 29 2004

Two-thirds of new teachers can't find full-time work Province reacts with "hard cap" on new enrollments 2011

Quote:
Few other graduates in Canada have as much reason for pessimism as those who finished teacher's college this spring. A study from the Ontario College of Teachers shows that two-thirds (67 per cent) of education graduates from Ontario's class of 2009 found themselves unemployed or underemployed in the following year. And, the unemployment rate among new teachers has exploded to a staggering 24 per cent - up from just three per cent in 2006.

The job market is bad in western Canada too. In British Columbia, 2,700 new students were certified by the College of Teachers last year. The BC Public School Employers' Association says that only 1,000 are needed, according to the Victoria Times Colonist. Even in fast-growing Alberta, many school boards are laying off.

Am I ever glad I decided to become a teacher. And at the tender young age of 47, too. Cry


abnormal
Offline
Joined: Aug 18 2001

In my grad student days (which I admit were a very long time ago) we used to laugh that the starting salary for new high school teachers (pass undergrad degree plus teachers college) was considerably higher than that for assistant profs (Ph.D., plus several years of TA experience, plus publications, and typically plus a couple of years of post-doc work).


abnormal
Offline
Joined: Aug 18 2001

BTW, there is no easy answer - municipalities are broke so they really can't afford big increases in salaries for any employees, including teachers.  Add to that the fact that there is currently a large number of unemployed teachers (newly minted grads are having trouble finding jobs) and, if anything, there is a downward pressure on salaries.

As for the options facing teachers, I do know a number of people that started out as high school teachers and moved on simply because there was no money in teaching.  To quote someone I used to work with "I got tired of being poor.  I wanted to give my family nice things and couldn't do it on a teacher's salary."  The individuals in question have gone on be everything from actuaries, to CFO's and CEO's of companies, to investment bankers, to .... 


Unionist
Online
Joined: Dec 11 2005

To dots?

 


abnormal
Offline
Joined: Aug 18 2001

Unionist wrote:

To dots?

?????????????????


Fidel
Offline
Joined: Apr 29 2004

That's impressive. I grew up with a girl who started out as marina worker and, later, a nurse who drives in NASCAR races. Just a little woman she is, too.


Summer
Offline
Joined: Apr 21 2006

teacher salaries in Canada vary board from board.  Toronto public teachers make between $45 -94 k/year.  Source (see p. 24-25)

teachers in BC have similar starting salaries but cap out at around $75 K.  The top of the range should be raised IMO.  Source

I think when you factor in job security, pension and benefits, that salary is pretty competitive with other jobs that a BA + 1 year post graduate degree will get you.  My understanding is that US teachers can make as little as $30,000 starting salary. 


Skinny Dipper
Offline
Joined: Dec 23 2005

Teachers do deserve a fair remuneration for their work.  The US salaries are despicably low.  I wouldn't want to be a teacher with a maximum salary of $75,000.  Since the Christy Clark's BC Liberal government has imposed a contract on the teachers, many teachers are refusing to participate in extra curricular activities.  Also, at professional development staff meetings, the teachers are refusing to offer suggestions on how to improve student learning.  If the government can impose a contract on the teachers, then it can suggest professional learning ideas without teacher feedback.  In BC, the teachers can be terminated if they receive a poor performance review from their administration.  One problem is that a great teacher who challenges a principal's ideas may be terminated.  It doesn't mean being insubordinate; it could just mean that a teacher may use other professional learning tools that may work for that class.

In Ontario, if the McGuinty Liberal government imposes a contract with back to work legislation, Ontario's teachers will likely withdraw from extra-curricular activities.  Why?  Some teachers may need to take a part-time job elsewhere. Others will do it to protest.  While some work-to-rule activities may be declared illegal, there are others that teachers can still refuse to do.  Teachers may refuse to hand out general notices to students.  These may include Scholastic forms.  Collecting pizza forms?  Forget it.  They may refuse to meet parents after school hours.  Staff meetings will be severely restricted.  There may be no field trips for students.  If the McGuinty government imposes a two-year contract, then it should expect the teachers to limit their activities within the schools for those two years.


Skinny Dipper
Offline
Joined: Dec 23 2005

One big problem with low teacher salaries is the high attrition rates of teachers.  It's not the so-called "bad" teachers that leave the profession; it's the good ones.  Students in classes could faces two, three, or four different homeroom teachers.  When they get to the third or fourth teacher, their is no loyalty with that teacher.  The students' behaviour worsens.  Learning does not take place.


Fidel
Offline
Joined: Apr 29 2004

Has Ontario been producing inferior quality teachers compared to the rest of Canada and western world in general? 

Ontario to increase teacher training to two years by 2014 March

Quote:
Other jurisdictions across Canada - and around the world - require teachers to spend more than a year in training. In Finland, all teachers have master's degrees

But in Finland there are no tuition fees for schools at any level. This is something our Liberal and Tory governments conveniently neglect to point out among other things.


ikosmos
Offline
Joined: May 8 2001

Teaching is a very high status line of work in Finland, there is very intense competition for the profession, etc. Even a big, bruising millionaire hockey player (Teemu Selanne) was an elementary teacher.


Summer
Offline
Joined: Apr 21 2006

 

Aren't there some provinces where teaching is its own 4 year BA?  I think that Quebec has this system.  I think that might actually make a lot more sense than the current system where teacher's college is a post-grad.  The trouble with the current system is that teaching becomes a career of last resort for many university grads who don't know what else to do.  I know several people that went into teaching for this reason.  Fast forward to five years past graduation from teacher's college and some of them are no longer teaching (not because of the money but because they didn't like it) and some of the ones who are still teaching talk about being hung over at work and showing their kids movies so that they don't have to lesson plan.  I also know several teachers that have planned on and wanted to become teachers long before graduating with their first degree.  These people are all still teachers. 

A BA in education with a co-op or practicum component for the necessary experience and combined with electives in the teacher's planned area or areas of teaching would be sufficient training?  Any teachers on Babble that can weigh in?


Caissa
Offline
Joined: Jun 14 2006

In NB you can either do a BA/B.Ed over 5 years over do a B.Ed. consecutively after a previous degree. After getting my B.Ed.,I have spent the last 18 years in the Student Services field. There are many different ways and venues in which to teach.


Fidel
Offline
Joined: Apr 29 2004

Summer wrote:
  The trouble with the current system is that teaching becomes a career of last resort for many university grads who don't know what else to do.  I know several people that went into teaching for this reason.

The reason I've chosen teaching is that I and thousands of others lost our jobs in telecom when the dot bomb bubble burst. I left a half-built house in Kanata in 2002 after losing a job that paid well. Contract work is now sparse, and I never liked working from home anyway. Many of my former work mates are now into "other things" while the overall economy remains stagnant.

I think more and more workers in Canada and now the US are coveting government jobs and full-time employment in education and public service. Someone said that US workers are just not seeing opportunities in the private sector like they used to and are increasingly seeking the stability of public sector employment as a result. Capitalists used to accuse countries like France of having bloated public sector economies, but ironically workers are losing faith in private sector capitalism in general. And who can blame us, really? Capitalism is a car constantly on blocks for repairs. 


ikosmos
Offline
Joined: May 8 2001

The low salaries, combined with the deteriorating working conditions, makes one wonder why anyone would go into teaching.

In any case, targeting the victims of these conditions with anecdotal and unsubstantiated speculation rather than addressing the problems is a right wing "blame the victim" sort of approach. If anyone needs to be attacked, it's the right wing politicians - like the tin pot dictator in Quebec - who are attacking students and teachers alike.


Fidel
Offline
Joined: Apr 29 2004

There are a number of socialists teaching in remote regions of Canada where few of the more citified dare tread. Most genuine socialists I know are driven by neither materialism nor greed myself included.


ikosmos
Offline
Joined: May 8 2001

The BC Teachers Federation and the Clark regime's bargaining agent (BCPSEA) signed an "agreement-in-committee".

Quote:
Despite the BC Supreme Court ruling that Bills 27 and 28 are unconstitutional and invalid, government refused to redress this legislation, which stripped teachers' collective agreements, restricted their bargaining rights, and eliminated provisions for class size and composition, as well as staffing ratios for specialist teachers who served students with special needs.

The Constitution of Canada doesn't mean sh*t to such a dictatorial regime. Perhaps we should be calling these regimes the "junta" in Victoria, the "junta" in Ottawa, the "junta" in Quebec City, and so on?

In relation to salaries of teachers, we have the following:

Quote:
The agreement does nothing to address the wide gap between BC teachers' salaries and those in other regions of the country. BC teachers had wage freezes, which are, in fact, wage cuts due to inflation, imposed in 2004-05 and 2005-06, and now again for 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Going into this round of negotiations we were the lowest-paid teachers in Western Canada and also lagged behind Ontario. Now we will fall even further behind, despite living in the province with the highest cost of living in the country," Lambert said.

fyi, Susan Lambert is the President of the BCTF.

 

See Teachers reach agreement with the Clark regime

 

 


Aristotleded24
Offline
Joined: May 24 2005

Summer wrote:
The trouble with the current system is that teaching becomes a career of last resort for many university grads who don't know what else to do.  I know several people that went into teaching for this reason.

That's the worst reason I can think of for someone to become a teacher, and it seems that with more teachers than there are jobs available, you can be selective about who you hire and weed out these individuals. What kind of changes would help? For example, if teachers were better paid and had more support, would more of the good teachers remain in the profession?


ikosmos
Offline
Joined: May 8 2001

In any case, jumping from unverifiable and anecdotal claims to general assertions about the current system doesn't hold up.


Fidel
Offline
Joined: Apr 29 2004

I blame a string of Liberal and Tory governments at federal and provincial levels for pulling billions from education transfers. It was a federal Liberal govt that pulled tens of billions of dollars from core PSE funding and health care transfers in 1995 and hasn't been restored since.That's on the record and verifiable.

The Truth About Canada - Preface

Quote:
Whether it's our pathetically low number of doctors, our high comparative levels of both adult and child poverty, our truly awful record of educational funding, our shameful levels of foreign aid and peacekeeping, our abysmal voter turnout comparisons, our totally inadequate research and patent performances, our high infant and under-five mortality rates, the broad deterioration in our social programs, our increasing gaps in distribution of income and wealth in Canada, our treatment of our aboriginal peoples, the rapid decline of our manufacturing sectors, our serious post-secondary education problems, our continuing and very dangerous decentralization, our coming confrontation with the United States over water, our mind-bogglingly stupid NAFTA agreements regarding oil, natural gas, and water - in any or all of these topics, and in many more, you will frequently encounter vitally important and newly documented information that will make you cringe.


Ivansestak
Offline
Joined: Jul 9 2012

Take a look at http://www.thesunshinelist.com.   It has all of Ontario's Public Salary Disclosures going back more than 10 years.  You can view the trends and view the details for yourself.


Fidel
Offline
Joined: Apr 29 2004

The NDP has been critical of salary bloat at OPG and Hydro One for a long time.


abnormal
Offline
Joined: Aug 18 2001

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or register to post comments