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“Better Pay Leads to Better teachers”: Prove it!

I believe that teachers deserve better pay. This shouldn’t surprise you as I am a teacher. But what I don’t agree with is the often used argument that if we paid teachers more we would attract a better standard of teacher. I have yet to have met a potential teacher who decided not to enter the profession based on the pay. I have also yet to have seen any difference to the quality of teachers after a pay increase.

A recent report finds that salary is a huge factor:

Several reports from the Australian government indicate that, although many high achievers consider teaching important and challenging, they do not pursue a career in teaching because salaries, promotional pathways and status are limited relative to other professions.

The research is clear that annual bonus pay schemes are ineffective in improving the quality of teaching or student outcomes or in making teaching a more attractive career.

There are some professions which attract based on promotional pathways and pay and others that attract based on the rewarding aspects of the job. I don’t want to teachers come in to the system based on pay and promotion reasons over passion and eagerness to make a difference.

Click here to read my post “If Teachers Were Paid More I Wouldn’t Have Become One.”

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4 Responses to ““Better Pay Leads to Better teachers”: Prove it!”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    As in any other profession, trade or occupation, teachers deserve to be paid a decent living wage. I have been through too many industrial campaigns aimed at securing this for teachers, not to know that the whole process is fraught with ill will on both sides of the argument. I have also lived through times when teachers real wages have been eroded by inflation and through times when i struggled to make ends meet in support of a young family.

    However, what stings more than an insulting pay offer that fails to catch us up with inflation, is the lack of good will in other areas than salaries, on the part of state education authorities.

    Good teachers are not valued and are treated as merely a number. And don’t ever make waves in your endeavours to improve the system. I think being treated in a patronising way by the administrative wing of the service is the thing that sticks in my craw after more than 40 years service. Your experience, training and expertise is a definite handicap because it sets you apart as a threat to those who know very little about teaching and education but who have made all the right political moves in their career to climb to the top. (We used to call them “show ponies”.)

    I had a few years among the supervisory ranks, which was enough to tell me I didn’t want to become the sort of person that uses and abuses those being supervised. This is not to say that there are no decent people at the top. I have met and worked with many fine administrators who are prepared to listen to and take into account the contributions of more experienced but junior colleagues.

    More than anything I want to teach my students in ways that suit their learning styles, make learning enjoyable and take into account different interests and abilities. Always ready to support and mentor junior colleagues without wanting extra pay for it I have seen some paid mentors try to hammer junior colleagues into a mould they do not fit and instead of being a source of encouragement are just another cog in the machine that sets young teachers up to fail.

    It is impossible to measure the productivity of a teacher. The results of the work of the best teachers don’t show up for years after their students have left school. Anybody can produce temporary short term results, move on, and leave a mess for someone else to clean up.

  2. SchoolJobs (@schooljobsaus) Says:

    Remuneration for teachers and progression from one pay level to another are two completely separate arguments. If you are saying that teachers don’t deserve to be paid more then I disagree. If you are saying that performance-pay for teachers is a dangerous concept then I agree wholeheartedly.
    Extrinsic (salary) and intrinsic (self-esteem) motivations are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, many professions successfully combine both (e.g. medical profession: I’m sure many very well-paid consultant surgeons go home with a nice warm inner glow every day).
    The point is surely this: How did teachers’ salaries fail to keep pace with those of their erstwhile professional equivalents, lawyers, doctors and accountants?
    It’s time we put teaching back on the well-paid, well-respected career map for talented graduates.

    • Michael G. Says:

      I agree with everything you’ve written. I just believe that the quality of teachers and teaching will not improve with better pay or that potential leading teachers are lost due to the current pay structure. That is not to say that teachers shouldn’t be paid more (which they certainly should).

    • John Tapscott Says:

      Don’t be fooled, teachers’ salaries were never on a par with those of lawyers, doctors and accountants but they were once comparable to parliamentary backbenchers, at the top of the incremental scale. Teachers’ salaries failed to keep pace simply because every time they were up for negotiation or arbitration that which was awarded was chiselled to such an extent that although a face value increase was attained, in real terms they failed to keep pace with inflation.

      I think it was 1969 or 1970 that NSW teachers obtained a 17% flat pay increase after many years of falling behind. The industrial campaign was long and bitter, if my memory serves me, and it was the first time in its history that the NSW Teachers Federation resorted to strike action. Of course, that has long since been eroded by inflation and surpassed by increases in other occupations.

      Anybody who claims trade unionists, including teachers, strike at the drop of a hat, have no idea what they are talking about. Strike action is always the last resort after many hours, days, weeks and sometimes months of fruitless negotiation conducted mostly in bad faith and ill will, by the employing authorities. At the same time the union members argue back and forth the merits or otherwise of strike action at the cost of wages which many are reluctant to lose.

      As for teachers in Government schools, every day they strike is like making a present to the State Government. They save money. Don’t anyone be fooled by their pretended care for the education of students. Education is regarded more as an expense than as an investment. The more they can keep the “expense” down the more they can spend on flashy things that pull the votes.

      I will reiterate what I wrote in an earlier post, that good will has a value that cannot be measured in money terms and that where good will exists in an employment situation, and there is, therefore, less friction, there will also be less expense as a bonus. Unfortunately I have seen successive governments liberally squander the goodwill of their employees, increasing costs all around.

      Better training and better management will lead to better teachers. The erosion of the real value of teachers wages over the years will never be compensated for by divisive remuneration practices such as performance pay, which will never, and has never, produced any improvement in teaching skills anywhere ever in the world.

      Well trained, well managed and well paid teachers are the three strands that will bring about improvements overall. What obtains today is poor training, poor management and poor pay. Quite the opposite.

      An English Pastor at the end of the 19th century wrote an essay entitled, “SCANT FEEDING OF MAN OR HORSE IS SMALL PROFIT AND SURE LOSS.”

      I think that about sums it up.

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