Prof’s take on teacher pay off base

Posted on January 12, 2016 in Education Debates – Opinion / Readers’ Letters – Re: Higher teacher pay doesn’t equal better student performance, Opinion Dec.30
Jan 11 2016.   Howard A. Doughty / Greg Sheehan / Joseph Polito

Higher teacher pay doesn’t equal better student performance, Opinion Dec.30:  < >

David Johnson, an economics professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and an inmate at the right-wing C.D. Howe Institute, says that we could get away with paying teachers less while maintaining similar student scores on corporate-friendly standardized tests. This, he adds, would free up cash for “other educational programming” – most likely new layers of bloated bureaucracy and expensive consulting economists.

Why stop there? Why not adopt the strategy of Ontario colleges and universities? They turn over up to 75 per cent of post-secondary teaching to underpaid, overworked and insecure “precarious” faculty who will do whatever they are told without complaint as they go from short-term contract to short-term contract living on the faint hope that they will one day be offered a full-time job.

Costs would go down and, if the contingent teaching staff agree to just “teach to the test,” scores might even rise. Of course, authentic education, intellectual inspiration and the overall health of the educational system would sink even further; but who cares?

Such factors are not considered on the bottom line in our increasingly dehumanized diploma mills.

Howard A. Doughty, Richmond Hill

I find it hypocritical for professor David Johnson to assert that Ontario elementary and secondary school teachers are overpaid when his current compensation is double that of the average elementary school teacher in Ontario.

According to the Ontario government sunshine list, professor Johnson made $167,708 in 2014. He has been on the sunshine list every year since 2003 with an average annual salary over that 12 year period of $138,948 and an average annual raise of 4.48 per cent.

It appears to me that if professor Johnson wishes to “substantially reduce the cost of education in Ontario and free up resources for other educational programming” he should be proposing “curbing the growth” of university and college professors salaries not those of elementary and secondary school teachers.

Professors who live in ivory towers shouldn’t throw stones.

Greg Sheehan, Mississauga

Professor David Johnson is a fine researcher, and his work at the C.D. Howe Institute is aimed at improving the quality of education. He would agree that education has been a success in Ontario. Today Canada is among the top nations in international tests.

We can do better by addressing problem stated in Johnson’s book, Signposts of Success. Almost half the variation in schools’ results is related to the student’s socio-economic conditions. Richard Wilkinson’s bestselling book, The Spirit Level, supports that view.

How can we have an egalitarian society when only the children of the affluent can afford the skyrocketing tuitions of our top professions? When minimum wages have been so meager? When affordable daycare is not available? And when we fail to provide pharmacare or dental care?

The best strategy for bettering student performance is improving those conditions, not complaining about teacher incomes, which have only matched inflation in the past 45 years.

Joseph Polito, Toronto

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