Teachers Are Not The Enemy

Teacher

Today’s guest post by Maree Talidu:

On Friday the 18th of May, public school teachers across NSW attended ‘stop work’ meetings for two hours, from 9am to 11am. As a school teacher it has been hard to ignore the backlash fuelled by the media, who have whipped the public into a frenzied group who see teachers as nothing more than spoilt and inconsiderate.

My local newspaper ran an online poll about people’s reaction to the Industrial Action taken on Friday. I have read some of the most vitriolic posts, claiming “Teacher’s have never worked in the real world” to “Teachers are a bunch of overpaid whiners”. There was petty name calling and we were accused of being “money hungry, selfish creatures” that have the “easiest job in the world- what other profession gives you bludgers 12 weeks of holidays per year?”

This is not about money. This is not about lining our pockets with extra cash. This is not about being overworked and underpaid. Put simply, it is about the preservation of the current education system, which supports students and gives them specialized assistance, class sizes with good student/teacher ratios and experienced teachers.

Under the governments proposed scheme “Local schools, Local Decisions” the government would be giving Principals the right to manage the budget for their whole school. They would have the right to hire and fire staff as they saw fit, with little explanation. In order to stick to the budget, experienced, older teachers who are paid more could be bumped in favour of young teachers who earn far less. We have been told that Special Needs students would be put in mainstream classes with no funding for specialised care. Class sizes will increase which in turn makes it harder to give each student the individual help they may need. Subject choices would decrease, with subjects that aren’t KLA (Key Learning Areas) at risk of being taken out of the curriculum- this applies to subjects such art, drama, dance, hospitality, design and technology, textiles and agriculture.

Positions such as Teacher’s Aides, STLA’s (literacy and numeracy teachers) and even school counselors could be done away with. Right now, none of us are feeling particularly safe. The proposed ‘changes’ are amongst the most insidious and downright underhanded I have ever seen.

I don’t strike for more money. I love my job and feel I am well paid. I WILL, however, back the Teacher’s Federation on this issue 100%. I want my students to have the right to reasonable class sizes; to have access to more experienced teachers, to have assistance for special needs, to be given the best opportunity to help them achieve their long-term goals.

How can anyone think it is acceptable for kids with special needs, (including Autism, Down Syndrome, Turner Syndrome and behavioural disorders) to be placed in mainstream classes with no assistance? What makes it alright to give teachers who have seniority and experience the flick because they simply cost too much to employ?

I have no doubt there will be more industrial action taken by the federation, and when it happens, understand that the teachers are fighting for the rights of your children- it’s that simple. The current smear campaign teachers are enduring is partly due to people being uninformed. Before you judge those of us in the teaching profession, please take the time to have a genuine look at what is at stake. After all, it is teachers who will help to shape the people your children become.

What do you think of the recent action? Do you think Principals should be given that amount of power? Do you think teachers are overworked and underpaid? 

To submit a guest post, email submissions@kikiandtea.com

On Strike Teacher

  • Mazi Gray

    A big part of the problem in these arguments is that “Giving more local control” sounds like a good thing and is easy to say, where as telling people about the 7500 planned job cuts, Shutting of school libraries, casualisation of the work force etc take a long time to explain, Unless teachers can start getting people to listen they will have no hope.

    I did notice that the education Minister this week did make the announcement that schools could get rid of their Librarians, but then a few hours later had his photo taken in the Library. I wonder where Politicians will have their photo opps when the libraries are gone?

  • Ash

    Australia is going the wrong direction with education! The proposed scheme is an Americanisation.

    We need to stop ourselves making that grave mistake (no matter how bad some of our schools may be, we will NEVER have an attrocity like some of the urban US schools in Lower socio-economic areas).

    This change would allow the elite to become more elite, in wealthy areas, and leave the poorer families to sink further.

    Australia needs to adopt a Scandinavian approach. In Norway, for example, where literacy is at around 100%, teachers are hired after a 5-year degree AND are regarded as being amongst the professional groups such as Lawyers and Doctors. Considering the role of the educator deals with our most PRECIOUS resource, how can people be blaming teachers for trying to do what’s best by our children and youth?

    Shame on the government. GOSH I wish we were Norway.

  • Whippersnapper

    I actually think that people are complete arseholes about teachers and that teachers don’t “get it good” at all.

    Yes, there are 12 student free weeks a year. That doesn’t mean that the teachers aren’t expected to work for some of those weeks. You also can’t pick and choose your annual leave whenever you want to go, because of the school term, meaning if you want to travel, you have to travel during school holidays aka the most expensive time to go away.

    Also, in QLD the starting salary of a teacher in a state school is $40,000.00 pa last time I checked. Most first year teachers are also expected to work at least 12 months rurally in a state school. Not sure of any other graduate program, other than medicine, where you are expected to do work away for your first year. Oh and a graduate doctor probably get paid 3-4 times what a graduate teacher gets paid.

    So yes, I think teachers can be undervalued, unfairly, by some. I think they are one of the most valuable professions to exist. They teach the doctors, politicians, electricians, rocket scientists of the future!

  • Monique Fischle

    I think teachers are soooooo undervalued. My Mum’s side of the family is made up of teachers; she was a high school music teacher, her brother is a Principal (at a Christian school so I don’t think this applies to his school, but maybe it does, I’m not really sure) and her sister is a primary school teacher, as well as many cousins studying teaching.

    I drove with my Aunty to Bathurst and back not that long ago and we talked the whole 8 hours we were in the car (there and back) and we got to talking about teachers and how they’re so undervalued and everyone thinks it’s just 9-3 and they have heaps of holidays and she was saying that she usually leaves the school when the cleaners are leaving because she’s staying behind to catch up on work. Other teachers may go home and do it but it’s not a simple 9-3 job.

    There is lesson planning, setting homework, marking homework, the million staff meetings and all the new technology they have to learn and therefore are required to do courses (but unlike in other professions, they aren’t paid to do those course). There’s also all the extracurricular activities that require them outside of school hours, not to mention school camps.

    I think this new educational reform is a really bad idea and the people who will suffer the most are the children. If only everyone understood that and realised that the teachers aren’t striking for extra money. Sorry about ranting, I just get really annoyed at how under appreciated teachers are.

  • http://music.johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

    I don’t have kids and know next to nothing about this…but where are the P&Cs in all this…are they supporting the teachers? Why isn’t there a community out-cry about these cut-backs? Where’s the media coverage supporting the teachers…I just don’t understand this apparent beat-up and hate…it seems like the teachers are fighting this by themselves…am I wrong?

    • An Idle Dad

      Great article.

      John,

      Public education undermines society. Teachers indoctrinate our children with ideas like justice and equality instead of simply preparing them to work in cubicles or manual labor. If you’re good at being educated, you’ll end up in universities and those layabouts are all atheist unionist commie scum anyway, with fake ideas about global warming and science.

      You don’t need to know history, music or art, you just need to know how to type and desire more goods.

      Besides, thinkin’ and power preservation belongs to private educational institutions only. It’s about choice – you can either choose to know the secret handshake or choose to have enough money to not need to know the secret handshake. Can’t get much fairer than that.

      In all seriousness, education is a pain the arse of government budgets. Right wing economics believes that private institutions can fulfill our needs better than public ones. The classic way to achieve this is to run down the public institution (death by a thousand cuts) then point to its failings. Those who can jump ship, then defend their new ship with the power of the religiously converted (I feel the pain of fees – everyone should feel the pain!). Governments get to free up vast segments of their budget for other uses. It’s a win/win for Australia.

      Plus, throw in that if you crush public schools, you can crush a union – where’s the political downside?

      • http://music.johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

        lol – I was thinking all that to myself as well…

        But what about all the parents…why is it so hard for them to see all this…why aren’t they running down MacQuarie Street pushing strollers and carrying pitch-forks and demanding better from the Govt…that’s what I don’t understand…why is everyone seemingly either ignorant or passive about this…

        Totally agree this is just as much about crushing the Teachers Federation as anything else…which is why I think parents should take more responsibility for fighting the Govt…this shouldn’t be a union issue…it’s about your children…do something about it!

        • An Idle Dad

          A protest by stay at home Mums. Yeah, that’ll get balanced coverage in the media.

          For staters, parents are fed a negative view of teachers. Plus they’re fed a negative view of public school management. When teachers strike, all they are told of are the impacts to parents, not what the strike is for. Pollies feed that with “We’re just worried about the impacts on working parents” not “I refute the teacher’s claims on fact #1, fact #2 and fact #3”

          Who knew what the facts of the protest were last week? Look at the linked article source: BROKEN HILL, ABC! Not exactly a headline in the Daily Telegraph, is it?

          I read the notification from the principle about the stop work meeting and I came away with no idea what the protest was for.

          This is a geniune question: can Principles politically agitate on their own behalf to their children’s parents?

          • http://music.johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

            I guess as a non-parent I’m just surprised how passive parents are about their kid’s education…just an observation really…

            Also, I see plenty of parents groups complaining about NAPALM (or whether it’s called – too lazy to look it up)…seems to me, the changes the teachers are striking about are more detrimental than school assessments…but like I said, I’m not an expert in this area…

            :)

          • An Idle Dad

            I’m interested in my child’s education.

            Where were the explaination to parents about the effects of the reforms? The note I got from the principle didn’t articulate the argument in this article. The SMH report http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/nsw-teachers-walk-off-the-job-this-morning-20120518-1yu8g.html doesn’t have the implications spelt out beyond gobbdy gook
            “There would be no guaranteed executive staff or specialist staff under the government’s reforms” – whatever the fuck that means.

            The only editorial run given is to Ross Cameron, former Liberal pollie, who compares running a school to running a local under-15s football team. Where’s the counter teacher submission?

            So fuck the media, let us go to the source. Checking the teacher’s federation website (http://www.nswtf.org.au/front) they do themselves no favours.

            Click the headline article “local cuts, local blame” and the headline you are taken to is:
            Salaries, Staffing & Security

            What’s the first word there? Sounds like teachers asking for money to me! Where’s the detailing of the risks of the government proposal (less libraries, less experienced teachers)? Fucked if I know. It’s not there, in fact the government policy isn’t addressed at all! WTF?

            You blame the parents (and LOL, doesn’t everyone?) but where is the communication? The unions talk to governments. The governments talk to parents. Who’s going to win the hearts and minds?

          • http://music.johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

            I don’t think I was “blaming” parents, but no worries…

            :)

            From what you say, the protesters are again not understanding how to use the media…this should be an easy debate to win in the media, but looks like the social conservatives are once again winning the media battle…

            Thanks for your perspective Idle, as always…I learn a lot of stuff from you :)

    • Maree Talidu

      John you are not wrong. The media is hiding the truth from the public. They are using ‘friendly’ terms as only politicians can do to try and make these disgusting changes more palatable.

  • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

    As a teacher’s wife, I completely think teachers are undervalued. The amount of times I’ve heard someone say “You get too many holidays”. I’ve heard a variety of responses come out of his mouth, my favourites being “Yeah I think you’re paid too much too” and “I don’t get more holidays, I just take all my weekends at once”.

    It’s true, though, teachers work day and night. The amount of times Husband has answered emails from students at midnight because they have an assessment task due the next day, or has spent his entire weekend marking.

    I tell you, I wouldn’t be a teacher for anything. And so, those few who do decide to do this, should be revered and celebrated, because it’s an incredibly self-less, thank-less job!

    • Monique Fischle

      You couldn’t pay me enough to be a teacher and teachers definitely aren’t paid enough for the amount of work they put in!

  • Valentina B

    Teachers are completely undervalued. Especially in this day and age where they are now basically expected to raise kids, not just educate. How do we expect teachers to do the best job they possibly can when no one in society respects what they do and continually criticizes them?

  • Mazi Gray

    I think the teachers federation is too busy preaching to teh choir to remember how to handle the rest of the state.
    The best article on what is going on was this one.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/secret-cuts-to-schools-20110318-1c0m9.html

    and as for private school, when teh public school market is completley devalued, then there will be less competition for private schools to deal with, so they can pay there teachers less as well.

    its a win for anyone without kids or who does’t want to work in Education.

  • Chrissy

    Principals & executive are already welding “The axe”.
    Personal experience suggests any PRINCIPAL WHO FEELS THREATENED by highly motivated, talented and student approved(encompassing parent/community) will STOOP so low staff are on leave, visiting psychologists weekly, finally LOCKS THEM IN OFFICE/ assaults and uses DEC investigative to coverup his corrupt / DIVIDE & CONQUER true story 2011/2012
    Teacher highly valued by colleagues Traumatised PTSD Why? Young inexperienced 1/3 the cost but WHO THEN IS ROLE MODEL for inexperienced and what incentive to stay if after 20 years PRINCIAL ASSAULTS???