The teachers of Alberta are appreciative of the great job with excellent benefits that we are so lucky to be afforded, especially in this horrible time of global recession.
As a social studies teacher, that is not something that has been lost on me.
I have seen the tragedy my students have been going through with their families losing their jobs, homes and opportunities that only a few years ago, came a dime a dozen in Alberta.
The issue of teachers petitioning the government for the wage increase guaranteed in our five-year contract, in the hopes of ensuring labour peace, truly is not an issue of money only.
It is an issue of keeping our government accountable to the promises they made to the teachers of Alberta. If we do not speak up and call them on their wrongdoings, eventually it will come down to you, the everyday taxpayer, and who will speak up for you?
Unfortunately, but quite timely on the part of the province, the raise is coming to the forefront of the media attention at a very dismal economic period, and of course that makes teachers seem greedy and ungrateful.
However, the province is also clawing back much needed funds from school boards that are not hurting teacher salaries, but the ability to teach.
With a moratorium on capital purchases (supplies for classrooms and computer labs) the student’s ability to engage in the different types of learning opportunities teachers like to offer is being severely challenged.
As well, let us consider the multimillion-dollar bonuses received by countless CEOs of oil companies and banks, and even the raise our own Alberta MLAs gave themselves in the same time of recession. It has been suggested that teachers get paid by results, well then so should everyone else, and as far as I have seen, stocks are still down.
Admittedly, there are issues in the education system, but I would challenge you to find a profession, trade or other business that doesn’t also have their fair share of issues.
Education is a constantly evolving profession that requires professional development opportunities for teachers to maintain the highest standards for practice.
As well, I would like to stress that schools have minimum class hour requirements they need to maintain that are dictated by provincial law. As a teacher for Red Deer Public, I am aware that we greatly surpass those required hours, and as a city school board, rarely call snow days that would cut those hours back further.
Schools have evolved from the draconian institutions with “the strap” and “pop quizzes” to environments that encourage students to take responsibility for their learning, and as such, involves them in the process, including giving them prior warning of assignments and exams.
As a third-year teacher, and even as someone who has student loans hanging over their head, I can assure you that money is not at all my first concern when I walk through the school doors every day. Would I like to make more money from my job? Of course, but show me someone who wouldn’t.
The truth is that teachers will continue to go on teaching to the best of their ability regardless of what percentage of a raise we receive, but that is exactly why we should be standing up to the government and keeping them accountable.
Do you think we would even be having this discussion if the government tried to pull this move on the nurses?
Not a chance.
This issue is not about whether teachers want or even deserve more money, it is about keeping a legal promise the government made to its employees.