xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: A teacher's 2020 vision of the future.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

A teacher's 2020 vision of the future.





This week was the start of the 2014 school year. I fear that  schools and teachers will have hard slog this year as the government's funding cuts and staff reductions take effect. It could be a bit like 1995 when the government introduced the idea of "productivity increases". This policy meant that teachers had to give up something or work harder if they wanted a pay rise. I didn't notice our politicians working harder for their AUTOMATIC pay increases.
 I wrote a couple of pieces in support of teachers. This one was written in February 1995 and published in The West Australian newspaper. It created quite a stir and in fact was reprinted in the British Columbia Teachers  Association newsletter and also in French in a Swiss education magazine. 
A Swiss lecturer at the University of WA rang me up and asked if he could forward my story to a magazine in Zurich. At first I thought it was one of my friends playing a trick. But he was serious and they printed it, in French, and sent me a copy of the magazine. I showed it to a French speaking gentleman of my acquaintance. He said it read much better in French!

Of course it also gives me a chance to rest my brain and dip once more into the vault.


Little did I realise that the changes to the wage fixing principles in the mid 1990s would bring me to my present perilous position in the year 2020.

You see in the 1990s some Industrial Relations guru, I think his name was Mandrake, came up with the bright idea that you couldn’t get a pay increase unless you increased your productivity.

I am a teacher.   Previous to the “increased productivity” system, teachers used to occasionally look at what doctors, lawyers, nurses, policeman, accountants, journalists and politicians were getting and tried to maintain some sort of relativity in pay scales.

For instance, in 1975, several of the senior teachers at the school I was at were getting the same level of pay as a parliamentary back bencher.

Anyhow, after a series of negotiations between the Teachers Union and the Education Department we would get a pay rise.  Not as much as we asked for, or as much as we thought we deserved, mind you, but at least we felt we were back on a par with other salary earners.  More importantly, we felt we were valued.

In 1995, however, under the “increased productivity” system, teachers only gained a 10% pay rise surrendering certain working conditions.  They had to start work at 8.00 a.m. and stay at school till 5.00p.m.

The government said this was very productive, even though most teachers were so emotionally drained by 3.30p.m. that they did not really do much marking or preparation between 3.30p.m. and 5.00p.m.  They continued to do these things after tea time when they had stopped shaking and had nursed their nervous system back into gear with a couple of gin and tonics.

Then in 2002 teachers again felt the need for a pay rise.  This time they gained an 8% increase but they gave up all of their term holidays and just took a three week break over Christmas and New Year.

By this time work place agreements were compulsory and some entrepreneurial teachers could see that they were on to a good thing.

In a landmark case in 2012 the entire staff of Socrates Heights Primary asked for a pay increase of 50% in return for working from 6.00a.m. until 7.00p.m. each day and teaching classes of 50 children.  They got it!

Well, then the workplace productivity agreement floodgates really opened wide.

In 2013, a teacher called Comenius Brown found himself in great need of money.  He entered into an agreement with the Education Department to teach 1000 children for 50 weeks of the year.  He was given a 120% pay rise.  Unfortunately he died early in second semester, but he died rich and had a very large funeral.

In 2014, a teacher named Erasmus Jones gained a 500% pay rise because he undertook to teach 28,000 children for 51 weeks a year.

He did this by using the giant T.V. screen  at the W.A.C.A. ground.  (This screen had been erected years earlier by Sir Kerry Packer.  Packer is the man who in 2001 bought New Zealand as a gift to the Australian nation in honour of its 100th birthday.)

Erasmus maintained that the most “productive” schools ever to have existed were the tiny “one teacher” rural schools that dotted the Australian landscape in the first half of the 1900s.

He organised his school at the W.A.C.A. on the same system.  Into each seating block he placed equal numbers of children from Pre-Primary to Year 10.  He then gave instructions via the giant T.V. screen and encouraged peer group tutoring on a scale never previously seen anywhere in the world.

Not only that, he obtained the school canteen franchise from the W.A.C.A. (they kept 15% of the profits) and his wife made millions of dollars selling pies, sausage rolls and vegemite sandwiches to 28,000 children each day.

Erasmus’ idea attracted the eye of Lord Rupert Murdoch (Murdoch had become a Chinese citizen in 2010 and now owned every newspaper and Chinese take-away restaurant in the world.)

Murdoch quickly moved in and set up similar schools to Erasmus in every capital city.  Within two years his World Series Education Tests were attracting high ratings and running continuously from 5.30a.m. till 9.30p.m. each day.

Then Lord Murdoch made a workplace agreement with one teacher who was to teach every child in Australia.  He did this by means of a virtual reality Sky Channel hook up to every home T.V. set in the country.

Naturally this put every other teacher out of work......except me.  Yes, I’m the teacher Lord Murdoch employs every day of the year to go on national T.V. and teach eight million children from 5.00 a.m. to 9.30p.m.

My problem now in 2020 is that I would like a pay rise to top up my superannuation.  Rupert knows I have only one year to go before I retire.  As I can’t work any more hours in the day, or weeks in the year, he is insisting that I should donate some very vital organs to medical research and agree to work for at least two years after I am dead.

Rupert is a very enterprising bargainer. But, what else can I do? I've nothing left to give up!

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