The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Bishop busted on pay cuts for teachers

National Curriculum - The Age - Nicholson

Federal Head Girl for Private Schools, Julie Bishop, has admitted that some teachers would be paid less under her plan to introduce performance-based pay. One of the reasons given for such a scheme was to make teaching more attractive. Well that’s gonna work a treat then!

FEDERAL Education Minister Julie Bishop has stood by her admission that some teachers would be paid less under a plan to introduce performance-based pay. But she insisted she was not advocating pay cuts, instead urging the states to lift overall spending on teacher salaries.

Labor and the education union accused her of undervaluing teachers after she confirmed that introducing performance bonuses without extra funds would mean some teaching staff would miss out on automatic annual pay rises.

But the minister said she was trying to lift morale and reward effort with an incentive scheme that was fair, consistent and equitable.

That’s the problem with implementing reform in the public education system when you have a hidden ideological agenda – it makes it more difficult to actually devise coherent and practical policy. We need to pay teachers more, so let’s pay most of them less.

One of Bishops’ reasons for performance pay is to improve the quality of teaching and learning, yet the evidence for this is weak, at best. It would certainly have a corrosive impact on the collegiate and collaborative nature of the teaching profession by introducing an element of competition between teachers. Morale boosting, not.

But more relevant to this story, is Bishop’s contention that performance pay will allow teachers to earn more. This will make the teaching profession more attractive to young graduates and older workers from other professions, and thus respond to the impending teacher-shortage crisis. Yet now it is revealed that, in effect, for 10% of teachers to be paid more, 90% would be paid less. That’s certainly an attractive recipe and a morale booster. Indeed, such an outcome would likely force even more teachers out of the profession, further exacerbating the teacher shortage. Yeah, that’ll work.

It really doesn’t make sense at face value. So who stands to gain? On the face of it, I would assume the main benefactor would be the private education sector. In this regard, Bishop is simply continuing Howard’s policy of shifting education funding to private schools while continually denigrating public schools and the teaching profession in the process.

If the Federal Government really wants to improve public education and attract more and better people to the teaching profession they might think about remedying the chronic underfunding of education on its watch.

Filed under: Education, Politics

4 Responses

  1. Fleeced says:

    “One of the reasons given for such a scheme was to make teaching more attractive”

    Actually, the main reason was so that teachers were paid on ability instead of how long they’ve been around… if you introduce performance based pay, then some are going to be better and some worse off. The ones that are worse off would be that way because they’re not as good. This is the way it works for most people in the real world.

    “in effect, for 10% of teachers to be paid more, 90% would be paid less”

    God help our children if you’re a maths teacher!

    The biggest factor keeping teacher’s salaries so low is the fact that their largest employer (the government) is a near monopoly. If you were really concerned about teachers getting adequate pay, you’d embrace the private education sector as the means of breaking that monopoly.

    Even if throwing more cash at public schools was the answer, these are funded by state governments.

  2. wpd says:

    A good analysis Slim. BTW Bishops’ should be Bishop’s. Just sayin … I note you got it right second time around.

    Sorry a pedant at heart. But someone who gets it wrong frequently.

  3. slim says:

    “main reason was so that teachers were paid on ability instead of how long they’ve been around”

    That is a description of the model, not the reason. The professed reasons were to make teaching more attractive to address the chronic shortage, and thereby address the issue of learning standards (which is actually a separate issue).

    ““in effect, for 10% of teachers to be paid more, 90% would be paid less”

    God help our children if you’re a maths teacher!”

    I’m not, but I’m pretty good with maths. I was trying to work out the maths on yard duty today, but didn’t complete the task. Regardless you get my point – given a fixed pool of cash, if you pay some teachers more, others must get less.

    If you wish, I could do a spreadheet for you and provide a link with the correct answer. That’s one of the ideas in modern education. How to find out what you need to know in a rapidly expanding world of information.

    Unfortunately, I do not share your confidence in a pure free-market commercial education system. Areas which are not profitable will not be adequately funded, leading to other costs to the economy, such as law enforcement and prisons, health problems etc.

    As a family benefits from an individual’s education, so does the community and the nation. There is no immutable law of physics or economy which says that public education shouldn’t be funded by the state. In my understanding of history, the West only got close to the ideals of being a civilised society once public funding of compulsory education became widespread.

  4. slim says:

    wpd – I am also inclined to pedantry, so no need for apologies. I’ve been trying write at speed on two threads at once.

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