Teachers down, pollies up

Nathan Hoffman, the Former Assistant Director-General of Education in Western Australia, has put together a neat set of figures, comparing the best-paid Western Australian teachers with state backbenchers. With his permission, I’ve reproduced it below.

Salaries of Teachers and Backbenchers in Western Australia

I want to draw attention to the erosion of the relativity between the salaries of teachers and backbench parliamentarians in Western Australia. I suggest that this analysis has relevance for a recently released ANU report which drew attention to the declining academic caliber of people going into teaching.

Thirty years ago, the salary of a 4-year trained teacher at the top of the salary scale was just over 80% of the base salary of a WA backbencher.  Today it’s just over 50%.

Date

WA Backbencher
Top of 4-Year Trained Scale
Backbencher/Teacher
Jan-73
$10,000
$8,150
123%
May-75
$14,000
$12,220
115%
Aug-81
$29,032
$21,507
135%
May-82
$31,935
$23,120
138%
Sep-82
$34,170
$24,345
140%
May-84
$37,622
$27,464
137%
Apr-85
$40,780
$28,178
145%
Jun-86
$43,342
$29,992
145%
Jun-87
$46,477
$30,444
153%
Aug-88
$48,662
$31,987
152%
Mar-89
$50,644
$33,467
151%
Sep-90
$57,489
$37,020
155%
Sep-92
$68,121
$38,950
175%
May-95
$73,910
$39,367
188%
Jan-97
$79,453
$45,493
175%
Mar-98
$82,663
$46,858
176%
Mar-99
$85,970
$48,264
178%
Aug-01
$100,000
$52,395
191%
Aug-02
$103,300
$54,491
190%
Sep-03
$106,000
$56,126
189%

So, in the past 30 years the salaries of teachers have dropped 30%, relative to the base salaries of backbenchers.  (Also bear in mind that there are numerous allowances for backbenchers, but none for teachers)

I would think that the WA public places a higher value on the contributions that teachers make to our society than it does on the contributions of politicians.

The recently released ANU review of the academic ability of people going into teaching draws attention to a steady decline over a number of years.  Any thinking person will see that the drop in the relativity between the salaries of teachers and politicians indicates a major cause of the problem.

In response to the possible claim that the work of politicians is more arduous than that of teachers, I can point out that, in 2001, the WA Parliament sat for just 82 days in the whole year.

I think there is a clear case for our politicians to redress the salary injustices that they have foisted on our teachers and schools over the past 30 years.

Dr Nathan (Norm) Hoffman
Former Assistant Director-General of Education
September, 2006

What’s most striking about the above pattern is that almost all the change occurs during the period 1990-95. You see this in other states too – it looks to me as though the recession-induced state budget crises caused teacher salaries to be put on hold for a handful of years in the early-1990s, and since then they haven’t retained parity with other professions. An unforseen consequence of the “recession we had to have”, perhaps?

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1 Response to Teachers down, pollies up

  1. Sacha says:

    I have to ask the obvious question – why should there be any relation between the salaries of a teacher and a backbencher?

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