Teachers have earned their pay

Editor, The News:

Re: Teachers paid pretty darn good (Letters, Aug. 31).

As a future teacher currently working on my degree, I could not be angrier at the comments Mr. Bourne and others have made about teachers, complaining that they are overpaid.

I realize this is a hot topic because of the job action in the fall, and it has been a hot topic in the past, and the misinformation that people make public during these times of interest is the biggest part of the problem.

Mr. Bourne says he did his research, but he might want to keep digging. He’s right that wages vary from district to district. Within a few minutes, I located the teacher’s salary grid for our district on the BCTF website and according to that, the highest salary a SD42 teacher could have earned in 2010 was just over $69, 000 – a far cry from the $83,000 he quoted.

I agree, that is a significant number and that many people do not earn close to that in a year, but it is not a starting wage for a teacher.

A salary like that is earned by someone who has obtained a master’s degree or higher.

I’ve never read a letter to the editor regarding doctors’ salaries because we all understand the stress of the job and the amount of education it requires. So why do we question the salary earned by teachers, who also face significant job stress and educational hurdles?

Teachers who earn higher salaries are the administrators at your child’s school, or veteran teachers with 10-plus years of experience. Beginning teachers certainly are not making that much. And they don’t even have a secure job. Most are laid off each June, or only have temporary positions that last a few months.

As for their time off, during their two months off in the summer, most teachers are working, not going to the beach. In fact, during the regular school year, many have a second job so they can afford daily expenses when they first start out.

In the summer, many  teachers teach summer school, work at private learning centres, or drive truck to supplement their income. So really, they’re getting two weeks off at Christmas and one or two weeks off at spring break. Is that unreasonable? I don’t think so.

Most unionized jobs have several weeks of paid vacation, why shouldn’t teachers get the same?

And their benefits package? It’s comparable to most unionized jobs, so why should they be criticized for it?

Yes, teachers work a six-hour day on the clock. Yes, they technically get a break at recess and lunch. However, all the teachers I know run tutorials, mark work, prep for next block, run student clubs, or attend meetings, catching a few bites to eat in between during those breaks most days.

And I agree, they don’t work an eight-hour day; it’s closer to 10 or more when marking and extra-curricular activities are included (especially high school teachers, who mark between 100-200 students’ assignments.

Yes, many people volunteer their time to coach etc., but when they walk away because they don’t have time, need to work more hours, or want to spend time with their families, everyone understands. Too bad it isn’t the same for teachers.

The salary might seem high, but factor in the money spent to get that salary. To teach in B.C. you must have a bachelor’s degree and a B.C. Teaching certificate.

A four-year bachelor’s degree costs roughly $24,000.

A one-year teaching program: $7,000-10,000.

That’s about $34,000 spent just to start teaching. In other words, almost an entire year’s salary.

So, I guess teachers do have a “pretty darn good” salary, but they’ve earned it.

However, the money isn’t why we go into teaching. We do it because we love teaching kids. I’m willing to get laid off every year, and work two jobs because I love teaching kids. I’ll buy computer programs, class sets of books that will help my students learn better, that the school can’t afford, and other materials out of my own pocket that I won’t get reimbursed for because I love teaching kids.

It’s never been about the money. It’s always been about the kids.

Teachers and future teachers don’t want you to cry a river for us. We aren’t looking for sympathy. All we ask is for a little recognition for the hard work we do.

Remember, the reason you can read this is because a teacher took the time to teach you.

Kristie Ward

SFU student

Pitt Meadows