Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Anti-Teacher Argument #6: It's Our Tax Dollars

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.

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.


  1. Keep in mind that 55000 Ontario Teachers are also tax payers. Based on your $2111 estimate, that's over $116M contributed back to our own system, too. That alone warrants us having a say.

  2. The daycare argument saving some parents money is incorrect.

    Parents who place their children in the all day kindergarten STILL need before and after school care. That care is turning out to be just as expensive in many cases as quality day care. Even if you only need adults to supervise the children for 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon you still need to pay them--in Ontario companies are (fortunately) required to pay their employees for three hours, minimum.

    The all day kindergarten is also turning out to be worse in all likelihood than quality day care since class sizes are in the neighbourhood of 40 children (1 adult per 20 children, one teacher and one ECE/EA).

    As a parent of young children I can confidently say that I will NOT send my child to all day kindergarten and I really wish the money weren't being squandered--yes it's being SQUANDERED--on feel-good all day kindergarten.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, research is now showing that all day kindergarten is only valuable for children from a low socio-economic background who start school with gaps in their pre-school learning.

    For middle and upper class children all day kindergarten provides no net benefit--why are we squandering BILLIONS on expanding a school system when those monies could be better spent support low children from low SES backgrounds?

    1. The hours required for day care are reduced, therefore, the costs are reduced. Do they still require before and after school daycare for an hour or so at each interval? Sure. But that doesn't mean that alternative arrangements, and cheap ones, can't be made.

      The point of the argument is this: Parents will save on daycare. Some of these savings should be put into the system.

  3. PS I do know a number of educator parents with kindergarten-aged children (comes with the territory of being a teacher with young children of his own ;).

    Very few of them have opted for full day kindergarten and those who have are quite disappointed that they've saved NOTHING compared to what they would've spent had their child been in quality day care.

    Full day kindergarten was a badly designed program from the start. It saves society no money (and unnecessarily spends 100s of millions, if not billions) and provides no educational benefits to the VAST majority of children attending the program.

    Plus, chances are that the children who are attending the program come from higher SES backgrounds since those parents are more aware of such programs and will jump on the chance to get their child in to school early in the mistaken belief that putting your child in school at an early age pays educational dividends later on.

    So frustrating to see good optics result in bad policy.

  4. I don't know where else to put this in this website so I am putting it here.

    I am tired of hearing about the complaints thrown toward teachers and how tax dollars are being spent on teachers.

    Where are these people that complain about teachers when the government throws away over 600 million dollars when they (government) decide to change the location of 2 water facility plants for no other reason than political gain?

    Those are tax dollars NOT well spent.

    Where are these people that complain about teachers when the Ministry of Health can allow hospital executives to be paid $250,000 to $500,000 "severeance pay"?

    Those are tax dollars NOT well spent.

    Where are these people that complain about teachers when the Ministry of Health allows for the mismanagement of ORNGE to spiral out of control costing us millions of dollars and deaths?

    Those are tax dollars NOT well spent.

    Where are these people that complain about teachers when the Ministry of Health allows for Telehealth to be mismanaged and again costing taxpayers millions of dollars?

    Those are tax dollars NOT well spent.

    Where are these people that complain about teachers when politicians reward themselves with a pay increase while continuing to spend irresponsibly and then claw back on the front line worlers?

    Those are tax dollars NOT well spent.

    Where are these people that complain about teachers when 98% of managers in Ontario government received a BONUS! (on the backs of the front line workers I might add)?

    Those are tax dollars NOT well spent.

    People complain about teachers not working during Christmas, March break or Summer months.

    The GOVERNMENT dictates how many days of school NOT the teachers.

    The GOVERNMENT dictates when the schools will be closed NOT the teachers.

    The GOVERNMENT dictates whether they will pay or not pay the teachers for the Christmas, March Break, Summer months, NOT the teachers.

    The GOVERNMENT now dictates the teacher's contract NOT the teachers.

    If the government feels that the Boards of Education in this province are INCAPABLE of negotiating contracts with teachers (which in essence is what they are inferring) then the government should ABOLISH the Boards of Education.

    You see, if you want change to happen, rally for change to the Education system (Education Act).

    The anger and hostility needs to be redirected away from the teachers and directed toward the true source of the hostility and that is a) the Government (no matter what government is in) and b)the Education Act/system.


    Just to clarify:
    In my part of Ontario (South-Western), Full Day Kindergarten is capped at 27 with 2 people in the room. In my experience there have NEVER been 40 children in ONE FDK class and I do believe that their is legislation around the number of students allowed in one FDK classroom.

    As I said earlier, if you want change - seek out the government (whichever party is in power) and lobby for changes to the Education Act.

    Thanks for reading.

  5. Thanks for posting.

    You make some interesting arguments.