Whenever another round of teacher contract negotiations come up, it is inevitable that the taxpaying citizens of Ontario become alarmed. It is, after all, their money that pays the salaries of teachers.
Here are just a few comments that I have taken from some of the media message boards over the last few weeks:
"We pay you people to sit at home all summer and do nothing"
"I pay your salary!"
"You should make minimum wage because you are on my wallet."
"You people are lazy and whiners. Tax payers can't afford to pay you."
But the most intriguing quote was naturally from Toronto Sun reporter Michael Coren:
"gave our money to teachers to prevent those same teachers from going on strike and thus giving grief and hardship to the very people — parents — who pay their wages in the first place."
Each of these comments got my mathematical mind to thinking. Yes, Ontario taxpayers have the right to complain about where their money is going, but do they even know how much of it ends up in the pocket of teachers?
Are teachers salaries so high that the end result is "grief" and "hardship?" for Ontario citizens?
Lets take a look at the math.
Education Budget: 19 billion
Percentage Spent on Teacher Salaries (prior blogs) 47.3%
Citizens of Ontario: 12, 851, 821
% of Citizens of Ontario in the workforce (70%)
So the money that every working taxpayer contributes yearly to teachers salaries (including teachers) is (19 billion x .473) divided by (12,851,821 x 0.7) which equals about $1000 a year.
The amount they contribute overall to education would be 19 billion divided by (12,851,821 x 0.7) = $2,111.
That means that the average working taxpayer (including teachers) of Ontario contributes $2,111 towards our educational system, of which $1000 goes to teachers.
As stand alone numbers, these really have no meaning.
But if we look into daycare costs in Ontario, we discover that the typical rates are anywhere from $400- $900 PER MONTH or around $4800 - $10800 per year.
With the introduction of FREE All Day Kindergarten, the amount of Ontario citizens who will require daycare will decrease in number.
This should free up more money to be contributed to the system. After all, a significant portion of the population will now be saving upwards of $5000 a year.
Some will even save $8000 per year.
More interestingly however, is the actual cost of education per student in Ontario in comparison to the United States and the United Kingdom
According to the government there were 2,061,390 students enrolled in public school in Ontario in 2010. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/educationFacts.html
The educational budget from that year was around 17 billion dollars.
Thus, the cost per student was $8246.
According to the Heritage Foundation of America, the cost of a 12 year education for the typical American child is $100,000 or about $8333 per year.
The Telegraph Newspaper says the cost for public school in the U.K was $9000 (pounds).
Thus, despite what our taxpayers and media might be proclaiming, Ontario is spending an equivalent amount per pupil as other nations.
So teacher salaries are not a unique burden on the taxpayer.
In fact, the cost of education on the Ontario taxpayer is EXACTLY what it should be.