The teachers’ unions must be dancing in the street given the media is doing their dirty political work for them by sensationalizing that retired teachers are “double dipping” and costing the public system millions of dollars.
And, no doubt, as people read the headlines and the details, it really does sound like teachers who teach after retirement are a selfish bunch and that public school boards are somehow wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars by hiring them.
Well, I say bullocks!
Check out MendEd to find out what others have to say on this topic as well. But, from my point of view, first and foremost, the money retired teachers are paid is not a gift. They are working for their pay just like any other public service worker. They are teaching kids for that money. And, if they cost more it is because they have years of extra training and experience. To simply call it double dipping is just silly and ageist.
You want to know the real story here? It is about the teachers unions wanting retired teachers out of the public schools. Why? Because retired teachers are no longer union members. Oh, sure, there is a small deduction for supply teacher dues, but not as much as if they were still in the system.
So, the media are trying to make it sound like a brand new teacher (who costs less) should be chosen over a retiree (who costs more) to supply or for short term contracts — because that would save millions. What they are NOT telling you is that it is not a simple this new teacher instead of that retired teacher.
Rather, it is about subject specialties and if new teachers are not qualified to teach Math, Chemistry, French and Spanish, the only people to suffer will be the children and youth — because there are times when there are no current supply teachers who can teach those subjects.
Read the teacher’s pension board rules about “Working After Retirement” including the sections labelled “Limits,” “What Counts,” and “Summary.” What you will find out is that once a retired teacher has used up his or her 95 days they are allowed to teach after retirement (which is currently for 3 years), they even have to count volunteer tutoring in the remaining 20 days. Meaning, that someone who has taught for forty years can’t even go into a grade one class and do volunteer tutoring with a struggling reading group. Why? Because the unions say the volunteer is taking away a potential union job that would contribute dues to the unions’ coffers!
So, once again the media is over-hyping a story and only telling one side of the issues — basically doing what the teachers’ unions have not been able to do on their own. Stirred things up enough so the McGuinty government jumps to their tune and changes the rules again by making them more restrictive.
Two cases to show the side of the story the public is NOT being told:
(1) My brother-in-law lives in Windsor, Ontario and has been supplying since retirement a few years ago. You know why? Because he speaks Spanish and French fluently. He is a former principal, has a Ph.D and is ALWAYS paid the lower rate because he never teaches more than 30 days at one time. And, yet the claim is that a new teacher should be doing what he does. Impossible because they simply don’t speak the languages. So, if they cut him off and a teacher of Spanish or French is sick or goes on maternity leave, the courses would simply have to be cancelled. Oh, and one more thing, he doesn’t put his name on a supply list. He is usually called by a board administrator begging him to help out.
(2) A year after my husband retired, he went to work half-time at a private school that is from JK to grade 12. He had the expertise to restructure and completely automate their library and did so over the three years he could teach 95 days. No one else on staff had the skills or expertise to do that. And, remember, not one cent of public money was spent because it was a private school.
No, the media’s hysteria about the public money spent on retired teachers missed the complete point of this whole war against retired teachers. It is about the teachers’ unions wanting:
- All teaching jobs to go to their members, qualified or not;
- Making sure private schools get cut off at the knees by not being able to hire experienced teachers (even though not one public dollar is spent); and
- Stopping retired teachers from any kind of volunteering in the belief that more younger teachers will be hired.
Teachers are not widgets. They are people. When they retire they take with them decades of experience and subject expertise. If public schools boards are using them it is because often they have no one else to turn to. The notion that a brand new graduate can do what a retired teacher does misses that point completely.
So, I ask, how is “double dipping” wasting money when the reality is that younger, cheaper teachers cannot do what the older teachers can? Retired teachers are simply getting paid for a day’s work based on their specialties and experience.
But, of course, the truth about teaching after retirement does not sell newspapers. And, in the end, it’s about politics anyway. The McGuinty government will now have the excuse they wanted to remove the 95 days they were allowed to teach in the first three years after retirement. Chalk up another one for the unions.
Endnote: Any teachers who are employed by one of Ontario’s designated private schools (meaning their private boards and teachers contribute to the pension plan, not the Ontario taxpayer) are required to abide by the OTPP rules after retirement even though no public money is involved. Why? Because the teachers unions’ say its about fairness, not public money. So, the issue of millions spent is a red herring. If a public board has a lot of retirees on their supply list, it is not because they intend to take jobs away from new graduates, it because they MUST be on the union approved supply list in order for a board administrator to ask them to help out.