I’m a teacher in the Victorian Public Education system, and I’m going on strike on Thursday.
Why would I do that?
Sure, Ted Bailieu promised to make us the best paid teachers in Australia at the last election. He is now comprehensively breaking that promise – but I only became a teacher last year, and I almost halved my salary to do so. I don’t care about the money.
What matters to me is that yet again, education is being undervalued. Sold off for parts. We are being told that if we are to get pay rises that are less than inflation, less than the cost of living, we must offset them with “productivity gains”. In Ted’s eyes, this means more contact hours. Yet I have a teaching load of 0.47 (less than half) because I am part time, and I am working myself to the limits of my endurance, and I still don’t have time to do the job properly.
How do I get more “productive” by spending more time teaching, when I don’t have time to do the preparation and marking that I should be doing, without spending countless hours at night and on weekends marking and preparing?
And don’t talk to me about the school holidays. That’s when I catch up on the marking and prep I didn’t have time to do during term. Friends of mine are leaving teaching in droves – happily giving up the school holidays in order to have a life the rest of the time.
The truth is that teaching is all consuming. And I am passionate about what I do – I wouldn’t have become a teacher otherwise. But half way through my second year and I am almost burnt out. Along comes Ted Bailieu, with an unmistakable message that education isn’t valuable, my skills aren’t worth rewarding, and I am not working hard enough.
I am incredibly fortunate to work with an amazingly talented, passionate and impressive group of young people. My colleagues amaze me every day with their talent, dedication and enthusiasm for what they do. I love my job, I love my workplace, I love my colleagues, and I adore my students. But I want a government that believes that education matters. I want a government that is willing to invest in the future of our children. And I want a government that keeps its promises. It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask.
That’s why I’m striking on Thursday.