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Open letter response to Mike Hosking on teachers

Thursday 13th June 2019

Linda Stewart, “I back the teachers” group

Open letter response to Mike Hosking's opinion piece on teachers (Newstalk ZB, Weds 12 June 2019)

“Oh Mike, here you are wading in on the teacher contract negotiations with figures that can politely be called creative and impolitely something else altogether.

The figure of $86000 which you used is well over the top of both primary and secondary teacher base scales. Why is it being used without mention of what is required to reach it and how many teachers are actually on it? There is also no mention of the starting rates that are so low that international teachers are having their work visas turned down because they won't be earning enough to meet the criteria. That are so low that teachers are applying for accommodation supplements and tax credits through Working for Families. That are so low that teachers are going to foodbanks. This is not how we should be treating the people entrusted with the care and education of our children.

The link between the Ranstad survey results which ranked early childhood and tertiary teaching as being desirable industries to work in and the current industrial action is generously tenuous at best and non-existent by any reasonable measure of critical thinking. The survey is irrelevant because it didn't include primary and secondary schools. By the way, there is also a shortage of early childhood teachers so something isn't quite adding up there either.

You have stated that $86000 is a good wage and “these guys are right up there”. That's quite a shift from your opinion just a week earlier that good teachers deserve twice what they are currently making. There is no doubt that a lot of people would love to be earning $86000, including plenty of teachers who are earning nowhere near that. I'm going to venture a guess that you aren't one of those who aspire to such dizzying pay heights.

It hasn't escaped notice that you compared the top of the teacher's salary range with median public service income. A fair comparison would be median compared with median or top compared with top. You also forgot to mention that the public service income includes figures from jobs such as contact centre workers and clerical and administrative workers. To use these in direct comparison with teacher salaries is either ignorant or disingenuous. The wages of support staff in schools are not lumped in with teachers’ salaries to find the median, not that you actually bothered finding it anyway. If they were, the figure would be much lower. Of course, most teachers don't actually earn $86,000 anyway but let's not let a fact get in the way of an uninformed opinion.

You wonder if parents are aware of how high teachers’ salaries can go? The short answer is yes, we are aware. We can read and we have looked the salary tables up instead of relying on the creative math being presented in some media. Are you aware how low teachers’ salaries can go?

You want to know “would any of the parents who support the teachers be aware that the wage is that high, and if they were aware, would the support for more industrial action be as widespread as it appears currently to be” Here's another short answer for you. Yes. We still support the teachers. And that support is widespread. 69% according to the recent Newshub poll.

You are entitled to be as anti-union as you want but for the love of informed opinion, research your facts.

And once more for the record. We are parents. We have seen the salary tables. We support the teachers.”


The Open Letter is in response to this article by Mike Hosking:
Job satisfaction numbers shows teachers' pay row is an industrial con

"I back the teachers!" is a group of more than 11,000 parents, whanau and public supporters, lending its voice to help find a way through the education crisis.

The group aims to support teachers and those working in education, to help drive the best possible outcome for our future generations.

The letter is written by Linda Stewart, a Mum with a six-year-old daughter at Te Papapa school in Onehunga, Auckland.


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