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Get real, teachers

December 13th,2023 | Valley Voices

By Angus McLintoch

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Dec. 5 shows that Canadian pupils’ performance in mathematics, science and reading continues to decline. 

I’ve had kids in school for 12 years. Every one of those years, I have had to personally step in to hold teachers and their administrators, to task – for a lack of societal knowledge and awareness, much less basic classroom management skills and command of their subject. 

As predictable, the annual dollop of disappointment dished out by these so-called education professionals is the triennial (give or take) standoff between teachers’ unions and the provincial government. Invariably, the standoff ends with little to show for it but the stress it imposes on working parents and children caught in the crossfire. 

Why do these standoffs never get anywhere, we might ask? Because the argument is built on false premises – a narrative of false equivalencies and decoys, fuelled by teachers’ unions, who refuse to accept that their members must be held to a higher standard. 

“More salary and resources, smaller class sizes,” cry the teachers, goaded by their self-interested unions. Duped parents huff and puff. “Do it for the children,” they say, their lives sent sideways by the suspension of state-sponsored babysitting.

The politics of the dynamic are powerful. The facts are more complicated.

According to Glassdoor [a website where current and former employees anonymously review companies], teachers in Quebec earn on average $70,764. That’s well above the provincial average salary of $49,473. 

According to the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT), teachers in Quebec teach an average of 729 hours a year, plus an additional 1,080 hours of “complementary work.”

More revealingly, teachers’ workload averages out to about 20 hours per week; a part-time job that earns a full-time salary. No wonder supply outstrips demand! 

But wait, what about quality?

According to the Government of Quebec, obtaining a diploma requires the completion of “a four-year certified Bachelor of Education program leading to a teaching diploma for preschool, elementary school, secondary school and vocational training.” 

Who was it who said that “the bachelor is the new high school diploma?” Should we be alarmed that the same qualifications that set you up for a fulfilling career in a McDonald’s hairnet can put you in charge of a classroom in this province?

Too harsh? Let’s compare Quebec teachers’ qualifications to those of their peers in, say, Germany. 

An aspiring teacher in Germany generally needs a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education or a related subject, followed by a teaching certification (Staatsexamen). Whooeee! Now that’s an education!

Time for unions, teachers and parents to get real. And for governments to get bold. The future of our civilization hangs in the balance. 

Angus McLintoch is a resident of Wakefield.

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