Dom Post flays PPTA

The Dom Post editorial pulls no punches:

Editorial: Get back to work, greedy teachers

That headline is so good, it belongs on a blog 🙂

Secondary teachers’ union head Kate Gainsford wants today’s strike to be seen as being all about a Government that does not value teachers or education, and that is mucking her members about.

There is a good reason she is doing that.

Clothing its extravagant wage demands in the beguiling rhetoric of selfless dedication to the cause of education is the ’s only chance of making them acceptable to the public.

If the union were to get real it means it would lose the argument.

To win, it would have to demonstrate why, in straitened economic times when the Government is borrowing to cover costs, its members should get a 4 per cent pay rise after receiving 4 per cent in each of the previous three years.

It would need to convince the public why its members should be treated differently from nurses and police – and the bulk of the rest of the New Zealand workforce, which has had minimal or no pay rises.

The difficulty for the PPTA is that most NZers understand that in the aftermath of the recession, almost no-one is getting big pay increases – and also that we are borrowing $240 million a week just to help pay for their current salaries.

It would mean telling them that there is something deeply wrong with a system where, according to Education Ministry figures, the average pay, with allowances, for a secondary teacher – not including principals – is $71,110, and where, of the 12,300 fulltime secondary teachers on the teacher salary payroll, 65 per cent earn between $60,000 and $80,000, and another 19 per cent earn more than $80,000, including 150 who earn more than $100,000.

Goodness, 65% of secondary teachers are officially rich pricks (defined as someone earning more than $60,000 – the level the rich prick envy tax used to come in at).

However, even there the union is on shaky ground. Its stance would have more credibility were it to acknowledge that fixing what is wrong with the education system involves more than just fattening the wallets of all teachers in the system, increasing employer KiwiSaver contributions, providing flu injections and laptops, and delivering slightly smaller class sizes.

It means recognising that the quality of the teacher has more impact on student performance than class sizes, the background of the pupil or the school where the teaching takes place.

If the union was genuine, it would call off the strikes and work with the Government to devise a pay system that provides pay rises for the best, rather than seeking rewards for all, regardless of merit.

What an excellent editorial.

I think the top 15% or so of teachers – around 2,000 of them, should be on $100,000. Bot the bottom 15% should be on under $50,000 so they have an incentive to pursue other careers.

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