Dale Stuart’s Sept. 25 letter criticizing teachers was offensive to me, a retired teacher. Let me enlighten him on a few points.
The contract between the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the government of Alberta was negotiated prior to Sept. 1, 2007. The terms of this contract are from Sept. 1, 2007, until Aug. 31, 2012.
Increases in the first year was three per cent. In addition, teachers are relieved of their monthly payment to the pre-1992 unfunded liability (a debt owed by our provincial government) with is 3.1 per cent of salary savings for teachers. This equates to a 6.1 per cent increase.
The purpose in signing this contract was to promote stability and direction for both parties in the long term. This contract must be honoured. During this time of recession, there are unemployed teachers as well. No profession is exempt. I am sure teachers with contracts are very appreciative of their jobs.
With regards to class time, the length of the school day has not really changed in the last 30 years. The start times and finish times may have shifted a bit, but the actual student contact time is much the same as it has always been. Teachers do not determine the number of school days in a year, the number of minutes per day, when holiday times occur, or whether or not there are half days. These are mandated either by the provincial government, or your local school board.
I have no idea where Stuart got the idea that teachers spend one-third less time in the classroom. That’s simply, not true. In fact, with the increase in extra-curricular activities, teachers spend more time with their students.
As for pay for performance, how would it be measured? Children develop physically, emotionally, and intellectually at different rates. Some are advantaged. Their parents offer support, guidance, and expose them to outside activities. Some children are disadvantaged. They come from dysfunctional homes, are neglected or abused. There is no level playing field here. So how would one measure performance? The fact is, you can’t. Children are not balance sheets. They are diverse, and payment for performance negates the true meaning of education, the development of each child to her/his potential, whatever that may be.
The teachers I have known are dedicated professionals who care about their students. The rewards are often intrinsic. It is hard work, often exhausting, but worth it. Children are our most valuable resource and teachers, along with parents, play the most important roles in developing our future citizens. Teachers — keep up the good work! You are worth every penny!