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Why teach? February 28, 2007

Posted by Amanda in politics.

Education is one of those issues that is always on the public agenda. Teachers are constantly criticised for their methods and expected to take on more of the tasks of raising the citizens of the future. Despite the criticisms, most teachers work hard to provide a good education for their students. And yet, is there a job that is more undervalued?

Teachers have never been particularly well paid. Graduates get above the average for a graduate employee across the fields, but the relative salary quickly drops down the list and after ten years,  if a teacher wants to stay in the classroom, there are no more pay rises. However, the situation in Queensland non government schools is especially bad.

Chris has just been offered a job as a teacher in a Queensland Catholic school.  According to my readings of the award, if he were to take this job, his salary would be $9000 less per annum than if he worked in a state school and at least $13000 less than if we had stayed in New South Wales.

I think this is appalling. No wonder most education graduates get out of teaching as soon as they can. The salary combined with the everyday difficulties of classroom management means that there is no incentive to make a career in teaching.

Perhaps when all the baby boomer teachers retire and there are 50 kids in a class, someone will wake up and pay teachers what they are worth. Until then, education graduates will continue to seek employment elsewhere.



1. avoiceofreason - February 28, 2007

Your point about pay may or may not be fully correct.

I am also an educator with 18 years in the field, so I’m not a Tax Pack Person, or anti teacher in any way.

Teachers are paid reasonably well for the amount of actual hours they work. I know the points of view that say, “What about marking at home”, “Preparing lessons at home” etc. I can say that everytime I mark papers I am often listening to the radio, watching television or other non-work tasks. How much of the percentage of my efforts are being spent on each is an appropriate question for those who would add hours beyond the normal course of duty for an educator.

Also, within the public sector, teachers typically receive benefit packages that are top rate, and are worth up to $15,000 in the open market. Frequently, these packages are available for less than a 20% payment into the plan, which is the typical amount spent by individuals in the corporate world. Also, teachers enjoy in most states very generous compensation upon their retirement.

Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t feel that teachers are overpaid, and I do believe that in many communities the traditional and reasonable locus parentus role that a teacher and school play for a child are extended by perception of the community that teachers are often the equivalent of the “hired help”.

One of the areas that teachers can improve to change this perception is for teacher unions to have an outlook that is directed upon quality management of their profession as they are towards the traditional roles of CBU’s towards job security and salary compensations.

2. Amanda - February 28, 2007

Thanks for your comment.

However in Australia, teachers don’t get any benefit packages or retirement plans.

There is a huge looming teacher shortage in this country and the short-sighted approach of governments means we are potentially moving towards a crisis in education.

The issue of pay is a major one in attracting and retaining quality teachers in a country where you could not get a home loan in a capital city* of Australia for the amount that a teacher earns.

By the way, my husband just turned down the job because we probably could not pay rent and eat on what he was offered.

*this is where the majority of the Australian population lives

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