Economy a factor

Teachers should respond to the weakening economy and our real world situation with more consideration and equity

I am without a generous corporate or government retirement benefit. My income is dependent on the health of the general economy and my performance in the workplace. The government-manipulated interest rate on savings is at an historic low near zero per cent.

It used to be that government workers received wages/salaries less than those in the equivalent private sector positions because their employment was more secure. Now those salaries are higher due to their excessively strong, dictatorial unions, and their market-insensitive leaders, advisors and political supporters.

So, what do we know about the teachers who are now trying to negotiate a new wage and benefit contract with our school boards during these economically difficult times? We know that there are some very good, dedicated teachers who understand that their pay comes from taxes squeezed out of our dwindling, economically stressed resources.

My guess is that they are the professionals who voted against the teachers’ current job action. We also know that the rest are the trade unionists who are more concerned about their ‘take-home’ and are unconcerned about the effect it is having on their students, and the rest of us whose income is dependent on the health of the economy to enable us to pay our taxes.

We know that the majority of teachers do not want their performance measured, hence their opposition to standardized testing. We know that they do not want to be paid on the basis of their performance. We know that every time their contracts are up for renegotiation, they want more pay, more benefits, fewer responsibilities, fewer restrictions, more control over their workplace and fewer students per teacher.

They don’t seem to realize that there is only so much money in our pockets, and that higher wages for them means less money to help the students, and less money in the general economy for family sustenance and job creation in the private sector. Governments do not create jobs, but consume capital and the vigor needed for private sector job creation via excessive taxation and regulation.

Many economists are suggesting the economy is going to get much worse before it gets better due to excessive debt in both the private and public sectors. The fact that other provinces are paying teachers excessively high wages should not be considered a good argument for B.C. to pay teachers more than their performance and a failing economy justify.

In his extensive letter to The Morning Star, Vernon Teachers’ Association President Bruce Cummings states that, “There has been a 22 per cent reduction in K-12 public education funding,” but he doesn’t reveal the fact that in recent years, student enrolment has declined substantially, hence the closing of many schools, and thus the reduction in education funding.

Speaking to teacher compensation based on performance, a group of economists has this to say, “The research here is clear. Except for the first couple of years of teaching, more experience does not make a teacher more effective. Likewise, an advanced degree does not necessarily produce a more effective teacher either (Cowley and Veldhuis, 2011). The current compensation system for B.C. teachers simply does not recognize effectiveness, and the BCTF is not willing to consider one that does. It is nearly impossible to penalize a failing teacher.”

As a self-employed person who is dependent for his income on a healthy economy, I ask that the teachers respond to the weakening economy, and our real world situation with more consideration and equity.


Vern Polotikis, Vernon