19 04/18/2012 parenting Education

Why do so many people hate teachers?

I try to avoid media attention to education because frankly I find it discouraging and hurtful.  
Lately the government has been on a mission to discredit teachers so that public opinion will be on their side.  That is not hard to do here in North America.  For some reason a lot of people seem to hate teachers.  Maybe it’s from their own education experience?  I know many think that teaching is easy and overpaid.  
I remember being at a cottage party once where a 22 year old was slagging teachers…talking about how overpaid they were, he was harassing a young woman who was in a teacher ed program.   I wasn’t a teacher yet but I knew that teachers worked hard for their salaries.  I finally spoke up and said something like, “I guess that depends on what kind of value you place on your child’s education.”  No one at this party had kids yet, but most thought teachers were overpaid and lazy.  Huh?
I know there are many people who don’t judge all teachers but sometimes it feels like that’s the way everyone thinks.  I recently made the mistake of reading comments on a Globe & Mail article about the current “bargaining” situation (in quotes because it’s not bargaining – it’s dictating).
Here’s one example, dripping with sarcasm:
Teachers have never worked a day in their lives & certainly are hard done by with a 25 hour a week schedule & only about 14 weeks a year off. They deserve so much more. Where is Gerard Kennedy when we need him to throw money at these poor hard working teachers?
There are some more thoughtful comments of course, but a lot of them are vitriolic, mean and thoughtless (as in no thought, research or reflection put into them).
I guess it’s the same for anything involving government and tax money.  Most people do not really understand the issues and make snap judgements based on their own prejudices.  Unfortunately it seems there are a lot of prejudices about teachers and education.  It seems that these prejudices extend to all unionized jobs, but especially those in the public sector.
Unions are responsible for bringing safety and pay equity and higher minimum wages for everyone, not just union members.  It’s companies like Walmart that are causing regression in labour.
There are some people who take advantage – in every sector.  There are bad, lazy teachers.  There are corrupt, mean, power hungry cops.  There are corrupt, lazy politicians.  There are doctors who abuse their patients and rip off the system.  There are stock brokers who trade based on insider information or spend clients money.  It goes on and on.  
Most of the teachers I know genuinely care about their students.  They put their all into their jobs.  They work very hard and put up with a lot of abuse.  Honestly, sometimes I think the pay and off time isn’t worth all the stress.  
In the end, most of us are trying to do our best to take care of our families and contribute to society.  Why do we find it necessary to be mean?  Jealous?  Resentful?  I’m not saying everyone has to agree but I am saying everyone should dialogue in a respectful way.  And, people should examine issues critically from different perspectives before forming an opinion.  
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  • David Krueshaft

    The primary example is bullying of teachers by administrators who work in the Toronto District School Board. When this happens, teachers cannot teach as effectively, but they still get blamed for the incompetence of the administrators, Superintendents and Trustees.

    In other words, overpaid and abusive administrators are the real problem here.

    One example of a troublesome administrator is Martingrove Collegiate Vice Principal Vivian Mavrou. Vivian Mavrou was accused of having explicit and inappropriate relations with a Silverthorn Collegiate school bully who was found with Vivian after school taking rides with her in her vehicle. Some of the students from Silverthorn Collegiate Institute complained that Vivian Mavrou took sides with the school bully, despite the evidence being given to her about the harassment of students perpetrated by the school bully. However, Vivian Mavrou was acquitted of the allegations because the school bully was coerced to deny the allegations so the TDSB Disciplinary Committee and Vivian’s cronies could cover-up the sex stories and transfer Vivian Mavrou to Martingrove Collegiate Institute.

    Gordana Anne Stefulic is another bizarre case of a distasteful woman who preys on innocent children. Gordy Stefulic’s accusations range from having sex with a student in the 1990s to sharing child pornography in 2007. It is no surprise because complaints from Gordy’s former workplace at Silverthorn Collegiate testified that Gordy Stefulic had her cronies in the TDSB to protect her from being punished for her misconduct. Gordy Stefulic was accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars, and unlike Terry Baytor, Gordy was allowed to remain employed as a teacher. Currently, Gordy Stefulic has been promoted as a Chair of the TSAA. Incompetence has its rewards in the unionized teaching profession.

    Teachers’ unions don’t care about their students. The failure of the TDSB, Ontario College of Teachers and teachers’ unions in preventing perverted teachers from exploiting under-aged students is a reminder to Canadians that the teachers’ unions and public school administrators do not act in the interest of a productive and moral society. This is why you hear stories about Mary Gowans, Wade Vroom and Nathalie Champagne on the news while Benjamin Levin’s sex allegations are being suppressed in the media because he is one of those perverted cronies. Canadians should know that Benjamin Levin was accused of making child porn and luring a 10 to 14 year old females for the purposes of exploitation. Benjamin Levin was the former Deputy Minister of Education in Ontario who was persistent with forcing an explicit Sex-Ed programme to students.

    No wonder more and more Canadians are considering to home-school their children or invest in private schools. The public schools in Ontario are comprised of too many perverted teachers who are more interested in sex than educating.You can’t have great schools without great teachers.

  • Seriously?

    To Real Time:

    What? What are you talking about? Seriously? I’m baffled. What is real life? You say they have too much time off but also that they spend too much time in school? Where do you suggest teachers work before they become teachers? Have you ever taught? How are these people your “friends” if you think so little of their work ethic? What happened in school that you are still angry about? Who do you want to teach? People who never went to school and have never had any experience with an education system. This is extremely baffling. This is your subjective opinion. Why are you passing this off as fact? Are you sure none of them worked other jobs before they taught? Many teachers who started teaching in the last 5 year probably did have other jobs before they taught because there were no teaching jobs? What is a “real job”? Can you develop some working definitions for your argument? Many teachers work over the summer so they work “real jobs”? How do they lack the common sense? What information and skills do you think people need in order to make it in the “real world”? Do you understand your constitutional rights? Those are important in the real world. What about understanding a law? Do you understand the legal consequences of every day actions, many of which people don’t even realize are actions that break the law? Law and constitutional rights are taught by teachers. What are you talking about? Where is your research? All you just did was tell a story that you made up with subjective experience, some negative experience you had in the past, and stock characters of teachers in media. Please file under propaganda/fiction.

  • Real time

    The problem with teachers is that they have disconnected themselves from reality by the very profession they are apart of. Think about it. Your average school teacher has never really experienced real life. (The odd summer job does not constitute experience in the real world). They have been in the school system environment since they started in kindergarten when they were a student. Just take a moment and think about it. Imagine being in the same environment when you are 5 as when your 45 and beyond. This is why you hear some of the negative comments. It’s not because they are off for 14 weeks a year etc, etc. that’s just another fuel to add to the fire. How can you give advice, teach and mentor when you lack the essential skills and common sense required. Most of my friends are teachers and it is painful!

    • David Krueshaft

      And more and more students are complaining that their female teachers are dressing up like whores & some of these teachers are having sex with their students just as Mary Gowans, Vivian Mavrou, Gordy Stefulic, Nathalie Champagne, Varla Abrams and Barbara McKenzie how many times they were caught having sex with their students.

  • Erin Little

    And corporate income taxes are still going down.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/infographic-ontarios-budget-by-the-numbers/article2383185/?from=2383652
    Tab 5
    Comment above is tab 3

  • Erin Little

    One more interesting link (I’m starting to seriously research the budget now).
    Health Care is 48.4% of the expenditures.
    Education is 24%
    Interest on debt is almost 11% – just under half of the education % – OUCH!
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/infographic-ontarios-budget-by-the-numbers/article2383185/?from=2383652

  • Erin Little
  • Erin Little

    Here’s what I don’t get about the separate school thing being constitutional. It was in the BNA act – now we have the Charter of Rights and it seems that under the charter it should be all religious schools are funded or none are funded. Yet I also know that the Jewish Council?? ( can’t remember the organizations name) challenged this under the charter and lost – I’ll have to brush up on my legal knowledge.
    It makes sense that education is a huge part of the budget, there are a lot of kids in Ontario – but I still think that the governments tactics are inappropriate.
    The salary quoted in your link is OSSTF which is secondary school. In order to get accurate picture of salary you would have to look at each collective agreement for each union. Then you would have to find out how many teachers there were at each level on the pay grid and how many years they have taught. For example, most teachers start at A2 or A3 – it depends on their undergrad degree. To move up a level (the max is A4) a teacher has to take five full university courses. The maximum salary would be at level A4 after 11 years of teaching.
    This link compares all the ETFO agreements. I notice my board negotiated away the sick day accumulation and the board pays less of the benefits than others (some pay 100%) – my first emotional response is “Hey – why do the other teachers get a better deal! %$%##$%^” but then I realize that I chose to live here. Just like I chose to go to teacher’s college and change my career at the age of 30. I think about factors that might have influenced those negotiations….etc., etc.
    There are three major teacher unions in Ontario – ETFO (elementary), OSSTF (secondary) & OECTA (Catholic). Each local has a different agreement.
    However, the reality is that Ontario teachers are paid well, but I don’t think excessively.

  • Karen

    I just have a minute to respond but wanted to touch on one thing. I think teachers are “targeted” by the provincial government, in part because teacher’s salaries and school expenditures are one of the province’s biggest budget items. There are 115,000 teachers, a great proportion of them at the top end of the pay scale.
    The public/separate school board issue is one that should be looked at, but as a longer term solution. We can’t begin to handle the deficit with that. It’s a constitutional issue.
    Gotta go I’ll be back later
    (and SORRY for the typos etc – I was up a sick kids way too late last night and so clearly didn’t proofread well.)

  • Sue

    I agree we have get long holidays however we cannot take days off when needed. We cannot take a parent to a CAT scan without approval, most often its denied. We feel guilty taking our sick days to go to an appointment in case we meet someone and we have to justify why we are not at work but don’t look like we are dying. We can’t take a holiday when it is affordable, not even by going a day or two early. We get two personal days a year to be able to do any of this. So yes we get many weeks of holidays but I would trade a couple in just to have the flexibility of the general working public to go away and take days off when I want and need them.

  • Erin Little

    Sarah,
    I think it’s OK to me measured by a different stick (not standardized tests though) but I don’t think it’s OK to hurl insults that stem from resentment and jealousy rather than information and thought. I should stop reading the comments at the Globe & Mail. LOL.

  • Erin Little

    Aileen,
    I know plenty of jobs where people take their work home. And plenty where they don’t. Teaching is my second career so I have some perspective on the private sector.
    Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate the dialogue.

  • Erin Little

    Hi Tracey,
    I don’t think they are underpaid in Ontario. In Quebec I don’t know. In the US they are way underpaid in most areas.
    I just wish people would do some research and think about it. Then express their opinions respectfully.

  • Erin Little

    Hi Karen,
    This is the type of discussion I’m talking about – ideas and opinions with some thought and research behind them. I wanted to hear from people like you – rather than the ones who comment on new articles without even thinking – they comment out of resentment and rage.
    I do know teachers of all the sorts you mention above – they often tend to be the old school type….or not emotionally developed enough. I don’t know any who want reverence though.
    As I’ve said before I think it is the system that really hinders everyone – students and teachers alike. Like you, I admire teachers who manage to work within the system to inspire children but I don’t think that’s enough, we really need to change the system (that’s another topic though).
    What I don’t like is being called names. I also don’t like that the government of Ontario is focussing on the teachers in the media because they know they can get the public to easily turn against them. There is no mention of all the money lost to ORNGE. Of MPPs salaries and perks. Of the wasted money on EQAO ($50 million/yr) and the Literacy & Numeracy Secretariats ($200 million/yr). What about Prinipals and Superintendents, check the sunshine list for them. Or the fact that we have multiple boards in the same area – Catholic, French, French Catholic, etc. Talk about redundancy in staffing and buildings!
    Also, I would like to know more about why we are in so much debt and have such a large deficit. How do all the taxes work? Do the rich and corporations pay their fair share? Why is Ontario still funding other provinces if we are in trouble? I could go on and on – but the focus in the media should be on all of this – formatted for the general public to understand it.
    ETFO has not walked away from bargaining – bargaining is not going on. The government appointed a nasty insolvency lawyer to dictate to the unions. Bargaining is supposed to happen at the local level, not provincial. The government came in hard and fast here.
    The pay raises each agreement are usually pegged to inflation – 2% or so. I haven’t researched what is happening in the private sector about keeping pay up with inflation so I don’t know what’s happening there.
    From here on I speak only for myself.
    I do not think teachers are underpaid at all. I think we have a very fair wage and benefits package. The pension is the best in the world (although probably not as ethically invested as I would like). We contribute 50%. This is the way it is because of collective bargaining and the unions. Some people argue that the civil service should not be unionized, maybe they are right – I’m not sure I would have to do research and think more.
    I think it is ridiculous to be able to bank sick days and get paid out at retirement. I honestly thought that didn’t happen anymore, my board does not have that.
    I do think we need more than 6 sick days as proposed by the province – we are exposed to a lot of illness everyday, especially kindergarten and primary teachers. Also, the majority of teachers are women and when children are sick, who stays home with them? I know that many people in all sectors use their sick days for this reason – perhaps we need a special type of day for that – family care days or something.
    I personally spend a lot of time researching and reflecting. That could be counted as work. I follow a lot of excellent, reformist educators blogs and twitter feeds and I read them every day, learning from and with them.
    Most of my teachers were mediocre (for me), one persons mediocre teacher is another’s dream teacher. I had a few who were somewhat abusive – one who would pick students up and shake them against the wall. I had a few who inspired me (but maybe not other students). I don’t think much of this happens anymore – even yelling a lot shouldn’t be tolerated and I’m surprised the school you refer to hasn’t done anything about that teacher. That said, everyone sometimes gets pushed to the edge and I think that if a teacher (like a parent) occasionally gets pushed too far and yells – well that’s being human (assuming it’s not abusive words). Some of those kids really, really know how to push buttons.
    I wish we could change the system so that is could suit the needs and interests of most students. I do think it’s possible but it requires such a paradigm shift that most people can’t wrap their heads around it. Although I am not happy with the system, I do think we need it. Homeschooling is only available to the middle and upper income level families. This type of dialogue helps.
    Thanks for taking the time to write a thoughtful response Karen.

  • Karen

    Hi Erin
    I admit to having mixed feelings about the teaching profession and I am offering this as respectfully as I can, not to add to the dog pile, but perhaps to give you a different perspective.
    With respect to compensation, I do think that the levels of compensation are perceived as high given the other benefits of the job. A teacher in Toronto with 8 years experience made about $84,000 a year in 2011 (source: http://www.nucleuslearning.com/node/3158)
    There are a number of teachers on the Sunshine list for our local boards, meaning they make $100,000 or more a year. Teachers do get significant holidays that other professions don’t enjoy. The 2 weeks at Christmas and the 1 week spring break is often more than most people get in a year, and most teachers I know are out of the school by the end of June and not back in again until mid-late August, giving them 6-8 weeks off in the summer. They also have one of the most generous pension plans in working world (partially funded by tax payers) with an early retirement option, and generous personal and sick leave (and some still have carry overs which I think is out of step with the real world). And that doesn’t even touch on issues of job security and non-merit based pay raises. So even assuming a teacher works full time for half the summer (4 weeks), on planning or in courses, that $84,000 for 44 weeks work is a good wage.
    So I don’t know given those economic realities for the province and for most families, that there is an easy way to muster much public sympathy for the idea that teachers work hard for too little pay, at least in Ontario. Pay freezes have been pretty common for many of the businesses I know of in the last 2-3 years. I don’t know that it reasonable for public sector workers to avoid these real market conditions. I’d like to be educated on the teachers’ arguments against this particular situation, but tbh I haven’t come across much that sways me.
    Now, I’m not negating that they work hard. They absolutely do. And I would rather stick needles in my eyes than spend the day with 25 children who are not mine. I am SOOO not cut out to be a teacher. I completely admire the skill sets, patience and passion that allow teachers who are good at their jobs to do the amazing things they do (I’ve run co-ops or programs for 20 kids and I need alcohol to recover from just a few hours). I have even more respect for those teachers who manage to hold back the curriculum and testing and the shortcomings of the system to allow kids to maintain control over and love for their own learning, and for those teachers who truly are a port in the storm for troubled or struggling kids (and I had a number of those myself).
    But here’s where I really run into trouble sorting out my feelings. I see teachers who position themselves (individually and collectively) as responsible for a child’s education (you did it yourself in your response at the party), and along the same lines, to be experts on all things related to children and/or parenting. There is a presumption of power and influence among teachers that I am not sure is warranted and that perspective diminishes or negates the immense and important learning that can/does outside of a teacher’s jurisdiction. I see the kind of learning my own children do, of their own volition, through interactions in their community, through satisfying their curiousity, through daily living. I’m not a teacher by any stretch and yet my kids have an extremely rich education. So I bristle at the idea that teachers hold primary responsibility for our children’s education, when children have an immense ability to education themselves, and true learning often comes through experiences of a child’s own choosing.
    My other concern is that I also very often come across teachers who judge parents based on whether or not they are willing to support the system, or the system’s expectations for the child, and forget (or perhaps have never understood) that academics is just one small portion of what a child needs. I was an awful school parent. I refused to do reading logs because they sucked the joy out of reading for my advanced reader, and it was obvious that he read extensively. His attendance was not great because his education was better served by a trip to the ROM and his spirit was better served by a hike in the woods with his gran than sitting in a classroom. I argued against a system and with a teacher who refused to take the time to see and know my quirky kid, whose flippant remarks deeply wounded him, and whose entrenched ways of doing things in the classroom despite the fact that they did not work for the students’ best interests, caused a number of kids, including mine, real distress. I know I was judged poorly as a parent because the teacher told me so directly, and because I hear my friends and siblings who are teachers make similar judgements based on similar parameters. I know that made the teacher’s job more challenging, but frankly, that wasn’t my primary concern. To hear many teachers talk, it should have been. But imo that leaves the child and his/her needs out of the equation.
    I have been blessed with some extraordinarily wonderful teachers in my life, for whom and to whom I am extremely grateful – teachers who have changed my life. I have also have teachers who ranged from mediocre to physically and verbally abusive – and many of those teachers have also changed my life. My oldest (the only one of my kids to go to school) had one absolutely fabulous caring engaged teacher who did everything she could to make school a place he wanted to be and where he could thrive. And a second one who, in plain sight and hearing of other teachers, yelled at my bright, sensitive, overwhelmed 6 year old with such vitriol that when I stepped between her and my son I was not sure I would be able to contain my own anger. His crime was that he didn’t want me to leave him with her. I wonder why. She’s still teaching, at the same school and I have heard a number of similar reports from friends whose kids still attend that school.
    So when I add these two things together – the presumption and the judgement, and couple them with the wage issue, I can see why teachers collectively may not get the respect that they deserve individually.
    My points are similar to yours I think in many ways. We need reasoned, respectful discussions. The vast majority of teachers are not lazy, not by a long shot. They work hard for their money and put a lot into their jobs and their training. But they are not the only profession which does, although it seems they (collectively) think that way at times.
    Teachers are an important influence in our children’s lives and their overall education, but they are not the only, and often not even the most important ones. They are an important part of our children’s community, but they need to be careful not to hold themselves in too high esteem with respect to their positions, because many many others who give/volunteer their time to do very similar things to teachers. Coaches, guide and scout leaders, parents also dedicate themselves to connecting, inspiring, guiding and teaching young people, without training and without pay.
    So when I add these two things together – the presumption and the judgement, and couple them with the wage issue, I can see why teachers collectively may not get the respect that they deserve individually. I’m sorry that it affects you personally and I can absolutely understand why it would weigh on you. I do think teachers deserve respect and support for the work they do, but I think we need to be careful that it doesn’t morph into an expectation for reverence which is neither appropriate or helpful.
    Hitting submit and hoping this is taken in the spirit it is offered.

  • Tracey

    I can’t believe people think teachers are overpaid! I thin they’re grossly underpaid a lot of the time… and yeah, there are sweeping generalizations about every profession out there, and sure there are PLENTY of lazy, bad teachers, but I think on the whole, most work hard, and do a good job. It’s awful to consider what some people actually think. And what they say! Gawd. It’s a shame, really.

  • Sue

    Hi Erin
    there is a reason that over 30% of new teachers quit and go on to other careers, the stress and the job demands. I know other jobs require you to put in extra hours, unionized or not. I watch my husband in a very well paid job, by the hour, put in extra time, take phone calls from men he works with, counsel them, fill in reports, all when he is home on leave. However he doesn’t worry if that man has something to eat this morning, which I do every day with students, who is going to have custody of a child this week, will the police be at the school to intervene, do they have clothes, will there be some one home to answer when they are sick. Why aren’t they helping their child with the 10 min of reading I have assigned because they are behind. How do I help this child that is 2 years behind because the parent isn’t really worried about it and ignores the cries from school to help. I am brought to tears because I want to help those we seem to be leaving behind. Testing them means being on a waiting list for 2 years, that is not my fault but the system, the governement… I spend too much of my easily earned money on my classroom, probably thousands a year for those of you who really want to know. I push myself to learn to know what I need to be better than I was yesterday. I push my collegues to the point of being annoying when I share. I spend time during the summer (wow my free summer) probably close to 2 days a week working to be ready for september.
    I will stop now. I would love the media to compare us, to other unionized and non unionized workforces accross the province in order to see how sick leave, and pay scales are done in unionized private companies. The grass always seems greener, fresher on the other side but it just means a different pile of manure to create that green.

  • Aileen

    First of all, I have the utmost respect for teachers. I thought I wanted to be one once and then realized what that meant. Kudos to you all. As you say, some are bad, but that’s true of every profession. Interestingly, my husband and I had a discussion with a teacher friend of his parents (who were both teachers) in which the friend asked, in our jobs, did we regularly work extra hours beyond 9 to 5 (as teacher do)? Did we regularly spend our weekends at work? Did we sign on for extra projects, or help our colleagues? We answered yes to all those questions. He was dumbfounded. He believed most “office” workers worked 9 to 5 and little else! The grass is always greener…

  • Sarah

    I think you totally hit the nail on the head when you say that there are crappy people in every profession.
    I suppose, because teachers are SUCH an integral part of a child’s growing experience, they are measured with a different (and unfair) stick.
    I won’t even get into the amount of work I did every single day as a teacher. The hours of prep before and after school. The FREE tutoring for struggling students. The hours of talking with pre-pubecent girls who just needed someone to listen to them. The countless plays that I directed, meaning I didn’t take a single break throughout the day for over three months. The entire weekends spent marking. The constant communication with parents who didn’t remember that everyone needs fair treatment…(ok, I guess I am getting into it).
    Personality wise, not every teacher is going to be your favourite but to say that teachers are lazy and do nothing…well, that’s just plain ignorant.
    I think everyone who has an issue with teachers should do a month in a classroom. Full time, as the only teacher. Then tell me how you feel about them…

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