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Satirical essay about teachers welcome

January 10th,2024 | Valley Voices

By Paul Hetzler

Kudos to Angus McLintoch for his brilliant satire (“Get real, teachers,” Dec. 13 edition). He did a masterful job illustrating the absurdity of public misconceptions about teachers. It seems appropriate to follow his playful spoof with fact-based material.

Teachers are like other professionals in that you’ll find excellent, good and poor ones. Teachers’ workloads vary widely depending on the number and nature of subjects taught and personal engagement level. While some have little school-related work outside class, you’ll never find a full-time teacher in Canada who works a 20-hour week. To claim such a thing would be silly, which, of course, was the author’s point.

In truth, educators who teach multiple subjects (and thus have more preps each night and more corrections) often work 60 or more hours per week. A nationwide survey sponsored by the University of Toronto determined that across all grades teachers worked an average of 45 hours weekly in 2007. However, a 2023 survey conducted by the RAND Corporation found teachers now work an estimated 53 hours a week, seven more than the average working adult.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m married to a teacher (who would prefer I not speak out). Though they’ve never had fewer than four subjects, occasionally five, my spouse is dedicated to each as if it were their only subject. They’ve never had a weekend off during the school year. Ever. On Saturdays, they work two to four hours, but Sundays are generally six to eight hours of prep and corrections. They work one to three hours every evening except Fridays and 30-90 minutes on weekday mornings before leaving. These numbers balloon enormously around marking periods and when student IEPs [Individualized Education Plans] are due.

According to a 2019 StatsCan study, Quebec teachers are the lowest paid in Canada – dead last among all other provinces and territories. In light of this, it is crucial to protect Quebec teachers from pay cuts. The province’s 12.7 per cent proposed wage increase over five years sounds fair until one considers the inflation rate over five years is projected to be 18.1 per cent. In real terms, offering less than the inflation rate is a pay cut.

I’m impressed by the author’s subtle humour in comparing German teaching credentials to Quebec’s. It would be more instructive, though less amusing, to compare Quebec with other provinces. It turns out that no province or territory has requirements that are more stringent. But, from what I can find on official provincial websites, three provinces and one territory require a certain number of credits, not a degree, and one territory only wants proof of citizenship and a background check. Given the dire shortage of teachers in Canada, it’s not surprising that qualifications might become relaxed slightly. I’m sure a few educators fell off their chairs laughing at the author’s reference to an oversupply of teachers.

But humour is always welcome, especially these days. Thanks again for that thought-provoking and fun essay.

Paul Hetzler is a resident of Val-des-Monts, QC.

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