When negotiating teacher contracts, what is the most important variable to your local union?


As much as we like to think that teachers are above the menial details of life that affect the rest of us, this poll is proof positive that we all share common issues in the work place. Teachers are people with the same needs and wants as the rest of us. Many teachers got into the profession because they wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people. While this is admirable and the kind of trait we like to see in our teachers, the harsh realities of life also need to be addressed. For this reason teachers who took this poll listed salary as the most important variable when teacher contracts are negotiated. Health benefits came in at a distant second place with all the other categories receiving less than a quarter of all votes combined.

It's true: money does make the world go round. Teachers work hard and deserve fair compensation for their efforts. With budget cuts and salary freezes, it's no wonder that salary is at the top of most teachers list of important items to negotiate before a new contract is signed. Most of the non-teaching world wants to make sure they receive a fair and adequate wage as well. Teachers have the added difficulty of extended break periods where they receive no wage at all. They must set aside money every month in order to save enough to live during the summer months when they don't receive pay. How many of us could save two months worth of expenses every year? With so many people living pay check to pay check this is a monumental task.

Much has been made of the increase in class sizes in recent years and how this affects student learning. This may be true, but the biggest effect large class size has is to increase the workload on already overloaded teachers. If they keep their teaching strategies the same, they have increased preparation and grading as a direct result of more students in the classroom. This alone is reason to want to address salary concerns during contract negotiation.

The bottom line is that teachers are concerned about the same things as the rest of us. They need to make their mortgage payments and put food on the table. Making sure teachers receive the compensation they deserve is an important cog in the educational wheel.