Teacher Salaries

Today, two stories dealing with teacher salaries were of interest to me.  The first one came in the local newspaper, the Windsor Star with the headline “Premier warns of public service sacrifices“.  The article goes on to talk about the hiring of a consultant at $1500/day to try and arrive at some suggestions for the legislature to deal with its financial problems.

The second story “Teachers Decide To Work For Free After Budget Cuts Leave Pennsylvania School District Without Funds For Salaries” was a heart warmer for the profession in once sense but unbelievable for a solution in another sense.  Is there no auditing body in Pennsylvania that would have identified what they’re calling today’s mismanagement long before this?

The story is so bizarre that I had to poke around and make sure that it wasn’t a hoax.  The message on the Chester Upland web site confirms it though with a supporting news story here.

While there’s no direct relation between the two, the underlying message from both goes to the importance that society places on teachers.  Fortunately, in Ontario, a teacher salary is enough to live on although my rings of educator friends who have a significant other typically have both with jobs.  Many of my US friends are in the same boat or have a second job to make ends meet.

Talk to any politician and they’ll let you know the importance of teachers in society.  Every one of them wants to be the “education prime minister”, “education premier”, or “education president”.  Yet, somehow when the times are tough, teacher salaries are always targets for a solution.

What would it take … what would it really take for this lipservice to be turned into reality?  Schools don’t run without teachers; why should they ever be targets for anything except genuine appreciation for all that they do?






One response to “Teacher Salaries”

  1. PostDewey (@postdewey) Avatar

    Hi Doug, I am just about to post my next blog at http://www.postdewey and it is right on topic with this blog. It deals with the appreciation side of your musings.

    For me, the financial and political theme is much more difficult to tackle. Part of the challenge related to valuing education and teachers lies in the financial structures used by public education and most public institutions (municipal, provincial and federal). In essence, public institutes use financial instruments that compare themselves to private and personal organizations. When the press and politicians talk about budget deficits, they collectively make comparisons that on the surface seem fair and logical, but I believe they are neither fair nor logical. By the way, I don’t think this is done out of distain for the truth, but rather as part of the historic, financial and cultural ways of thinking.

    In the business world finances, two very import tools for analysis are the Balance Sheet and the Profit and Loss Statement. The former is snapshot in time of the worth of a business, while the latter is a summary of financial activity over a period of time. Both reflect assets although in different ways. Assets are included in measuring financial performance. In public finance, assets are not part of the equation. They are accumulated and then disappear. Public finances only record current accounts, with the difference between taxes received and money spent being referred to as a deficit or surplus.

    In my opinion, this comparison ignores that taxes spent on capital projects and human improvement, provide a framework and basis for creating new wealth just as they do in the private sector. Educators are an integral part of Canada’s ability to build a better future and I think using a historic comparison to establish their value needs to be looked at in a different light.


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