Andrew Laming deserves an “F” for his remarks about teachers

Andrew Laming, the federal member for Bowman, was very quick to retreat after he posted this clanger on his Facebook page:

Are teachers back at work this week, or are they ‘lesson planning’ from home? Let me know exactly.

Following the expected deluge of criticism Andrew deleted his post saying all he wanted to do was “get people talking”.

Let me answer Andrew’s question. The short answer is: “Yes.”

The long answer is teachers in Australia have more mandated face-to-face time than most other OECD nations, while a 2015 survey found that more than 42 per cent of teachers worked more than 50 hours per week, and 23 per cent worked more than 55 hours per week.

 

Let us compare two very different worlds.

 

The approximate base rate of pay for a graduate teacher in Queensland state schools is $66,000

A graduate teacher earns enough to place them in the 62nd percentile of Australian incomes.

To be a teacher in Queensland you require a minimum of either a four-year Bachelor of Education, or one three-year degree with a Graduate Diploma of Teaching. Even after attaining the necessary 4 years of training they are required to complete 20 hours of professional development every year.

Teachers are subjected to criminal checks. They are bound by codes of conduct — with discipline and enforcement criteria — that apply to them inside and outside the classroom, including their activities on social media.

 

The base rate of pay for a federal member of parliament is $195,130.

This makes Andrew Laming better off than 97 per cent of other Australians.

Andrew Laming makes $70,000 more than the highest paid Queensland classroom teacher and at least $20,000 more than the highest-paid state school principal.

There are no necessary qualifications to be an MP — other than to have no convictions of more than one year and don’t be bankrupt.

There is no code of conduct outside of parliament — including activities on social media.

 

Not only do teachers work long hours, and are paid much, much less than Andrew Laming receives for his 41 days of parliament every year, but they give so much more of their income back to their job as well.

Andrew Laming might not realise this, but while some teachers are given a small budget for classroom resources (which can range from books, paper, tissues, glue, wipes, photocopying, craft items, pencils, etc…), this small stipend often does not cover costs for a term, let alone a year.

Many teachers are given no budget at all.

Out of dedication and passion for their job teachers purchase resources with their own money so they can give their students what they need to learn and to grow.

Teachers also spend money on everything from student lunches and bus fares to supplementing school toiletries and cleaning equipment.

Then there are camps and excursions, plus the expenses associated with professional development (books, fees, travel, conferences, accommodation).

A 2014 survey of 1,200 NSW teachers found that teachers spent nearly $1,900 from their own pockets every year.

Teachers may receive some tax deductibility for these out-of-pocket costs, but they certainly don’t receive their expenses paid.

No teacher received $31,000 in taxpayer-funded travel for the six months between January 1 to June 30, 2015. They certainly never received $3,800 in taxpayer-funded trips for their family.

 

Andrew Laming this week experienced firsthand why those in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks. Hopefully, he has learned a valuable lesson that will prevent another attempt at cheap point scoring.

But as federal parliament doesn’t resume until 7 February I just have to ask:

Is Andrew back at work this week, or is he ‘working in the electorate’? Let me know exactly.

 

Ros McLennan
General Secretary
Queensland Council of Unions