Critics of teachers should chalk in their shoes
How many of us take work calls at 2am? Or supervise strangers’ kids 24/7 for five days for nothing? Or block out whole weekends to write reports without overtime or time in lieu? Teachers do this and more all the time.
A government high school teacher friend is so busy that some days she literally has no time to go to the toilet. “I would usually work close to 60 hours a week and we are paid for 38 hours,” she says.
Before camps my friend prepares class plans for a fill-in and then marks the work upon her return. She gets eight hours off for reports, enough for one class. Most teachers have six, so the rest is in their own time.
“Keep in mind exams need to be marked before reports can be written,” she adds. “An exam takes 30-40 mins. I have 100 plus. Sometimes exams finish on Friday and reports are due Monday at 9am.
Still think teachers don’t deserve a better deal?
The latest round of Victorian industrial action, set to disrupt school camps and excursions, has brought out the haters who love to brand teachers spoilt, mollycoddled sooks.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who thinks they’re in it for the “endless holidays” and cushy public service conditions should take a walk in their shoes.
No group is perfect, but most teachers are intelligent, selfless and talented people who dedicate their lives to educating future generations.
Unlike some of their critics, who choose high paying careers that contribute relatively little to society, few if any teachers will earn or accumulate a personal fortune.
They have good holidays but many spend much of that time preparing for next term. Most attend countless unpaid meetings and give up lunch breaks for yard duty and sport.
My parents were both primary teachers and worked endless unpaid hours, many at home. Dad volunteered for extra sport duties and as a deputy principal Mum was on call 24/7 to race up to the school when an alarm went off.
My teacher friends respond to 2am phone calls from VCE students and deal with helicopter parents who interfere in every aspect of their child’s schooling.
Successful corporate types point out how hard they also work, which they do. But most are rewarded with much higher salaries and/or profits.
After what they say are years of broken promises about making Victoria’s teachers Australia’s highest paid, teachers are fighting to ensure the best and brightest are attracted into the industry.
The Australian Education Union is unhappy with the State Government’s proposed performance pay system, which it says may see a small number among the highest paid but does not help the rest.
Premier Ted Baillieu has so far refused to give the teachers what they say would keep his promise to make them the country’s best paid, offering a smaller percentage rise plus bonuses for top performers. “What we seek to do is to introduce better pay for teachers based on performance,” he told 3AW on January 22.
What he and other politicians, most of whom use private schools, don’t see are the many sacrifices all government teachers already make to ensure our schools are as good as they can be.
On top of the work, teachers must also attend evening functions such as valedictory dinners. One parent recently failed to pick their child up until 3.30am, forcing teachers to wait with the student.
“We always have late parents from camps, productions, awards nights, formals etc,” my friend says. “We get very tired and that … is a work place safety issue.”
After ordering members to not write detailed reports last year, the AEU’s Victorian branch plans another state wide 24 hour stop work on February 14.
Teachers have also been told to work-to-rule with 38-hour weeks, putting many activities, excursions, camps and meetings at risk. Yes it’s annoying but we need to look at the big picture.
Talks with the State Government aimed at settling the dispute started this week and will continue next week, but there are no guarantees.
Whatever happens, the State Government and armchair critics can’t have it both ways. They want a world class education system, but complain when teachers take action to achieve it.
Something has to give.
Follow Cheryl on Twitter: @CherylCritchley
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@mooks83 sophisticated response. Think the kids parents saw it differently
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