Monday, May 9, 2011

Lessons never learned

I can't help but wonder whether unionized groups drag out contract negotiations to an election year with the hope that government will capitulate for the sake of an election outcome. I suspect the Sask Party knows there isn't a chance in hell that these unions will support them come November, but there must be concern for the votes of citizens negatively affected by strikes.

The Saskatchewan teachers focus on what Alberta colleagues are earning , but are noticeably silent on what else they receive in their contracts, both provincial and local, comparative to other provinces. Do all Alberta teachers receive four or more paid personal days? How do they compare with preparation time, class size, teaching days/hours, professional development offerings, supervision pay, etc? Do Alberta teachers have a boosted health care plan, disability package, optical, dental, etc? How about retirement gratuities and double dipping? We have a horde of young teachers in our community who can't get teaching jobs because retired teachers continue to teach while drawing pension. The public needs to see the whole package.

Then comes the mantra - do it for the kids. Get real. This contract has nothing to do with the kids. Its for the teachers. If you cared about the kids you wouldn't use them as a pawn in negotiations. Teachers know this years high school grads need their marks in order to qualify for post-secondary entrance. Students can get conditional registration based on their mid-term marks but need those final marks by school year end. How is this action helping the kids?

As for sharing the current prosperity, I could buy that if their contract contained a clause that would roll back those salaries in less affluent times. That will never happen.

Alas, these negotiations play out like a bad divorce action. Both parents love the kids but tear them up trying to get at the other spouse. So please, enough of "do it for the kids."

In closing, I believe that, by majority, our publicly funded systems provide good teachers and they also have a percentage of great teachers. But sadly, they also have a percentage of poor teachers. I wish the contract would include a way to reward the greats and weed out the poor. However, solidarity forever means you get the bad was well as the good. Perhaps teachers would get more public support if they were willing to cull their own.


  1. But Mistress, have you not heard from the teachers yet that there is no way to measure their performance. One such teacher bemoaned that it is impossible to measure whether teachers are doing a good and poor job, she noted that she took one of her grade 8 students from a grade 2 math level to a grade 5 math level, and that on standardized testing she would be deemed a failure.

    So we are left in a situation where we need to reward all teachers, not just the ones at the top, but not only that we need to do so blindly because there is no fair way to evaluate them.

    These teachers are delusional and better know that public support will not be on their side should this drag out.

    12% over 1 year, LOL..... Why not start with something reasonable like 4-4-4, at least break that 12% down. Nice money grab teachers.

  2. Well Elaine since you seem to know so much about teachers why don't u tell us how their 'compensation package' compares to Alberta? But I doubt you have even been in a class room since you finished school so how would you even know.

    Who cares about benefits when you can't pay your skyrocketing bills????? This is about a paycheck not about about extra dental bills anyways

  3. Well said. It's really unfortunate that most people who oppose the said 12% raise and subsequent walk-out are unable to say anything publicly for fear of being labeled "anti-teacher". Facebook polls that read "Do you support the teachers?" already have a built-in bias, but then factor in the shaming that would occur should I press "No", and the result is easy to predict.

    Your suggestion to cull the current crop of educators is both valid and impossible to implement. And when the college of education is so easy that it has become a fall-back for people who don't make it in the major of their first choice, that only compounds the problem. What is the solution then? I don't know, but I am sure it isn't a 12% raise.

  4. How any non-union member could support the STF is beyond me. Do people not realize that the STF has one goal in their mission.....MAKE THE MOST POSSIBLE MONEY FOR THEIR MEMBERS AT ANY COST.

    They couldn't care less about the students, the taxpayers, or the health of the province. The only thing of concern for them is how to extract the most possible that they can for their members. All the power to them for that, I don't blame them, I would do the same thing if I worked for them. They are a business and their job is to get possible return for their shareholders, and if they don't they may be replaced.

    But I agree Mistress, the BS about 'being about the children' needs to stop. Do what you need to do to get your nozzle a bigger share from the public trough, but don't pretend like you are doing it for the betterment of society. Admit you are a business looking for max return, you'd get a lot more support that way.

  5. turn that question on it's head - "I can't help but wonder whether the government out contract negoiations into an election year with the hope to play to their anti-union base?:

    Let's remember it's the government that refused to move from 5.5% over 3 years, causing the teachers to walk away until they started bargining in good faith.

    When the government doesn't bargin in good faith then teachers have every right to excerise their legal rights, including striking.

    Yes kids get caught in the middle and that is unfortunate. But let's put last weeks strike into perspective - it was the first one ever (or at least in the last 75 years!) by the STF. That's pretty impressive for any union.

    Why are we not asking why the teachers felt compelled to undertake such a drastic action?

  6. Anon 9:11 - I don't know whether or not you are being deliberately obtuse or whether your posting is a sign of your natural intellect. Either way it is not worthy of response.

    Anon 9:05 comments on a teacher claiming she took a Grade 8 student from Grade 2 level math to a Grade 5 level math in one year. The concern should be how did a Grade 8 student get to Grade 8 with grade 2 level math standings. I would think that the teachers of that student in grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 have some explaining to do. Obviously the student was not learning disabled if this teacher accomplished that much in one year.

    Did this Grade 8 teacher pass this student into high school with a Grade 5 math level and if so how well will this student do in high school?

  7. The government should tell the teachers that they will give them their 12% raise on the condition that the teachers agree to close the loophole that allows for double dipping. Just watch the older teachers scramble to rationalize why that isn't a fair offer.

    To Anon 11:21, the teachers have had similar strike vote #s in the past and have never, as you stated, taken job action. In all the years you are telling me that 5.5 over 3 is the most unreasonable starting position a government has taken. Last negotiations they had a 95% vote in favour of job action and low and behold settled for 2-2-2. What is different this time? While it seems to appear that all the unions in the province have aligned themselves for strikes, with STF taking the lead and soon followed today by HSAS. It certainly appears to the objective eye that the unions are lining things up to create a headache for the first government that has stood up to their demands and isn't in bed with the union leadership.

  8. that should read ""I can't help but wonder whether the government would drag out contract negoiations into an election year with the hope to play to their anti-union base?:

  9. Anon 11:52. The STF has always been fairly independent of the larger union movement in this province.

    But if you want to start talking conspiracy theories....

  10. "When the government doesn't bargin in good faith then teachers have every right to excerise their legal rights, including striking."

    ....and 12% in a one year contract (which conveniently would expire in 2 months and require a new round of bargaining) is an example of good faith. It's tough to chastise others for not bargaining in good faith when they fail to bargain in good faith themselves.

  11. Hi, 9:11 here again. I'm not sure I understand: "obtuse" and "not worthy of response"? I was in agreement with you and further expressed my annoyance that being anti-12% is socially frowned upon and therefore public opinion is being construed as pro-12%. Why you've attacked my intellect is beyond me.

  12. time to bust some unions, they have served their purpose anyhow.they are the weakest LINK in growth of the economy, goodbye.

  13. First off we need to get the idea of a full strike putting fear into our children. The Minister should come out and ask all Divisions to provide a current mark based on mid term exams and work to date. Lets face it people, if your child hasn't learned their grade level by now there isn't much time for them to change their ways and marks. May is the last true month of schooling with June taking over for field trips, concerts and other frills. So the Minister takes your mark and add 5% for your final should a strike occur.

    So now to the demands:
    Am I ever glad the Provincial Government took over full control of the financing of School Divisions.

    I say give the teachers what they want 12% increase over 1 year and even go further to a 24% over two years. And in return you ask for a much lower initial wage. And then tell the school divisions to get rid of all unnecessary school programing/old rot and incapable teachers and waste in their systems. Do away with all these local contracts. And the catch no new funding over the 5% for wages the Province feels is necessary in three years. Remember people the Province doesn't hire the teachers your school division does. The way the money is spent is still up to your local board.

    If every child is truly to have the same quality of education shouldn't we be bringing the system down to the lowest common denominator as we do for the Union themselves. No incentives for living in Saskatoon or Regina.

    The school systems belong to the parents that send their children there not that people that are employed by them.

  14. "I don't know whether or not you are being deliberately obtuse or whether your posting is a sign of your natural intellect. Either way it is not worthy of response."

    Translation: "You are asking me to substantiate my ill-informed tirades on a factual basis. I will not let facts get in the way of my opinions."

  15. "And then tell the school divisions to get rid of all unnecessary school programing/old rot and incapable teachers and waste in their systems."

    Ha fat chance the union will get the double dipping system abusers to retire. There is a reason these people are still hanging around and robbing the system.

    If the government was smart they would publicly decry the double dippers and say they will up their offer to 9 over 3 (almost double) on the condition that the union agrees to remove the ability to collect both a pension and paycheck.

    If the public realized what these greedy teachers were doing there would be outrage. Once you get the double dipping off the books watch how many of those old lazy teachers start to retire. Let them pick, keep teaching if they love it or retire and make room for the new generation.

    Such a goal would more than make up for the increased wages amount and would likely clear a good chunk of the top earners off the books for good.

    It is sad to see the few poor teachers hijacking the system and wrecking it for the rest of them.

  16. um, doubling dipping is when a retired teacher comes back to supply your argument is a bit mixed up Anon 3:29pm.

  17. Squeaky wheel gets the grease!and They are a powerful union. I would give them 6-6-6 just to make a point of exploitation of children.

  18. Lock them out! It's May they aren't going to turn anyones school life around. They are notorious for not managing their money so let them walk til Sept or even October. Pass all the students to the next grade because they all will anyway. After 4 or 5 months of no pay offer them their jobs back at their present rate, remind them that their union managers have continued to collect pay and see what they do.


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