Treat Teachers Well Part 1
This article looks at how high school teachers have been treated after carrying out mini interviews with international teachers.
This article (in two parts) is dedicated to all those hard-working teachers who are not fairly treated, one way or another. As a novel approach, three teachers from the Maldives, Romania, and the USA, respectively, as well as the author’s contribution about the Netherlands, all recount real-life experiences and observations made whilst working as teachers in those countries.
Are teachers paid fairly?
The subject, a head mistress and former teacher remarked that “they are not paid well compared to the work they bear, and so many responsibilities as well. Teacher’s job is a full time job”. She took the opportunity to point out that “teachers sacrifice their life to the job” Though, she went on to compare teacher’s pay as being “the same as what civil servants get”; she revealed that “we get 429 Euros minimum”.
As head-teacher, she now earns approximately 1288 Euros a month (at the current rate of exchange). while the average pay for teachers is only 429-613 Euros. The cost of living is very high, especially in the capital where, shockingly, the average rental price for a one bedroom apartment is 642 Euros per month. Outside of the city centre, it is 490 Euros.
When working at a private secondary school, I became acquainted with the fact that the salary scale is fundamentally flawed. The way it works is that a school only has a few slots per pay scale and the principle chooses who gets put on the highest pay scale. Ultimately, favouritism takes the place of rationality, where an experienced teacher, for example, may get paid far less than his/ her worth.
A Romanian first degree teacher added that “in Romania nobody, starting from the principal and ending with the cleaning staff; nobody is paid as they should be. After eighteen years of work and a Degree I got a first in, I can now earn the equivalent of only 400 Euro”.
To put this into context, in Romania, for 500 Euros you can rent a decent but basic home, while a litre of petrol currently costs 1.26 Euros (in November 2015).
A Hawaii based special EDS teacher commented:
“in 2001-2002, I made $29,000 (€27,000) in Indiana, and a modest apartment would take about 1/3 of the take home salary. It would have been doable but not ideal. Here in Hawaii, starting teachers make about $31,000 (€28,900). This is poverty level. With insurance costs rising, gas, food costs, etc, one would have to live with family in order to survive. Rent here averages $1500 (€1400) for a one-bedroom apartment with no amenities, so without a roommate, that would take over 3/4 of the take home salary! Impossible! That was not enough. I lived at home in order to save money. I have always felt that the importance of teaching does not match the compensation. When I got to the top of the salary scale at a school in Washington State, I did feel that I was finally being compensated fairly. I made about $80,000 (€74,500) there”.
The results of these interviews clearly show that teachers from far and wide all agree that teachers are unfairly paid, in the grand scheme of things. While the standard of living is very high in the Maldives, disposable income is very low. In the Netherlands, teachers are restricted with regards to their earning potential. Whilst in the USA, it seems there is a light at the end of the tunnel, at least in Washington State. On the other hand, teachers in Romania are earning far too little, across the board.
How common is extra work, and do you get paid for it?
Interestingly enough, it turns out that marking, which is paid as if it were overtime and the final exams is paid for; this works out as being 5% of the salary. However, “parents’ evenings, professional development programmes and all other curricular activities – nothing”.
School teachers often have to catch up on their marking while on holiday. To add insult to injury, extra duties are heaped upon teachers all at the convenience of the school and without reasonable communication, i.e. invigilating, marking, writing tests and attending meetings; all without being paid for.
“Extra work is something very common in Romanian schools. We all have a lot of extra work which is not paid. For example, I am a school councillor, and I am also responsible for all the English teachers in my area, but, unfortunately, these extra duties are unpaid”.
‘In terms of extra work, the most bullshitty of it all is the ‘data team’. I have to meet once a week to do things like planning the SLO (student learning objectives), analyze test scores and make a portfolio. We also have to write the SLO and show data to prove students are learning. It’s complicated and takes a long time. We have 3-4 hours of meetings a week. This is ridiculous when we have so much else to do! Further, ‘special ED teachers have tons more work because of IEPs (Paperwork for the SPED kids). I’m teaching special Ed….oh no, nothing extra, just the whopping $52,000 (€48,500) a year in an area with very high cost of living. They were good about paying extra for clubs & curriculum writing, but the SLO type stuff is the evaluation system which is built-in to the salary”.
It is troubling that extra work and no pay is familiar to teachers on a global scale. Perhaps teachers are being taken for granted, or maybe disrespected. Very few teachers boast about their pay, though much to the credit of these educators, you’ll often hear how fulfilling the job is and that it’s not about the money.
Have you had any similar experiences? Please let us know.
See how much a secondary school teacher is paid in the Netherlands
Forum for international teachers
Romania: average salaries
Maldives average salaries and living expenses
USA: teachers pay
What is a special Education teacher?
Pt 2 will feature two more questions put to the four teachers from the Maldives, Netherlands, Romania and the USA. Watch this space……..