Teaching after retirement

The teachers’ unions must be dancing in the street given the media is doing their dirty political work for them by sensationalizing that retired teachers are “double dipping” and costing the public system millions of dollars.

And, no doubt, as people read the headlines and the details, it really does sound like  teachers who teach after retirement are a selfish bunch and that public school boards are somehow wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars by hiring them.  

Well, I say bullocks!

Check out MendEd to find out what others have to say on this topic as well. But, from my point of view, first and foremost, the money retired teachers are paid is not a gift. They are working for their pay just like any other public service worker. They are teaching kids for that money. And, if they cost more it is because they have years of extra training and experience. To simply call it double dipping is just silly and ageist.

You want to know the real story here? It is about the teachers unions wanting retired teachers out of the public schools. Why? Because retired teachers are no longer union members. Oh, sure, there is a small deduction for supply teacher dues, but not as much as if they were still in the system.

So, the media are trying to make it sound like a brand new teacher (who costs less) should be chosen over a retiree (who costs more) to supply or for short term contracts — because that would save millions. What they are NOT telling you is that it is not a simple this new teacher instead of that retired teacher.

Rather, it is about subject specialties and if new teachers are not qualified to teach Math, Chemistry, French and Spanish, the only people to suffer will be the children and youth — because there are times when there are no current supply teachers who can teach those subjects.

Read the teacher’s pension board rules about “Working After Retirement” including the sections labelled “Limits,” “What Counts,” and “Summary.” What you will find out is that once a retired teacher has used up his or her 95 days they are allowed to teach after retirement (which is currently for 3 years), they even have to count volunteer tutoring in the remaining 20 days. Meaning, that someone who has taught for forty years can’t even go into a grade one class and do volunteer tutoring with a struggling reading group. Why?  Because the unions say the volunteer is taking away a potential union job that would contribute dues to the unions’ coffers! 

So, once again the media is over-hyping a story and only telling one side of the issues — basically doing what the teachers’ unions have not been able to do on their own. Stirred things up enough so the McGuinty government jumps to their tune and changes the rules again by making them more restrictive.  

Two cases to show the side of the story the public is NOT being told: 

(1) My brother-in-law lives in Windsor, Ontario and has been supplying since retirement a few years ago. You know why? Because he speaks Spanish and French fluently. He is a former principal, has a Ph.D and is ALWAYS paid the lower rate because he never teaches more than 30 days at one time. And, yet the claim is that a new teacher should be doing what he does. Impossible because they simply don’t speak the languages. So, if they cut him off and a teacher of Spanish or French is sick or goes on maternity leave, the courses would simply have to be cancelled. Oh, and one more thing, he doesn’t put his name on a supply list. He is usually called by a board administrator begging him to help out.  

(2) A year after my husband retired, he went to work half-time at a private school that is from JK to grade 12. He had the expertise to restructure and completely automate their library and did so over the three years he could teach 95 days. No one else on staff had the skills or expertise to do that. And, remember, not one cent of public money was spent because it was a private school. 

No, the media’s hysteria about the public money spent on retired teachers missed the complete point of this whole war against retired teachers. It is about the teachers’ unions wanting:

  1. All teaching jobs to go to their members, qualified or not;
  2. Making sure private schools get cut off at the knees by not being able to hire experienced teachers (even though not one public dollar is spent); and
  3. Stopping retired teachers from any kind of volunteering in the belief that more younger teachers will be hired.

Teachers are not widgets. They are people. When they retire they take with them decades of experience and subject expertise. If public schools boards are using them it is because often they have no one else to turn to. The notion that a brand new graduate can do what a retired teacher does misses that point completely.

So, I ask, how is “double dipping” wasting money when the reality is that younger, cheaper teachers cannot do what the older teachers can? Retired teachers are simply getting paid for a day’s work based on their specialties and experience.

But, of course, the truth about teaching after retirement does not sell newspapers. And, in the end, it’s about politics anyway. The McGuinty government will now have the excuse they wanted to remove the 95 days they were allowed to teach in the first three years after retirement. Chalk up another one for the unions. 

h/t Mark-Alan, Catherine and Jack’s Newswatch. Also c/p at Jack’s Newswatch.

Endnote: Any teachers who are employed by one of Ontario’s designated private schools (meaning their private boards and teachers contribute to the pension plan, not the Ontario taxpayer) are required to abide by the OTPP rules after retirement even though no public money is involved. Why? Because the teachers unions’ say its about fairness, not public money.  So, the issue of millions spent is a red herring. If a public board has a lot of retirees on their supply list, it is not because they intend to take jobs away from new graduates, it because they MUST be on the union approved supply list in order for a board administrator to ask them to help out.

22 thoughts on “Teaching after retirement

  1. Off topic – quick note that Canada AM on CTV is having a week long look at autism. Not sure if you have seen it.

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  2. If there are not enough teachers to fill the positions available what’s the big deal about them double dipping. Does the media think it would be better to import teachers who can barely speak the language? The question of whether or not all these teachers are required may be another matter, but under the present system there is a shortage.
    I’m a retired boilermaker and just recently the union lifted the restriction on retired members going back to work. Not because they want us double-dipping, but because they can`t find enough skilled tradesmen to fill the jobs. The answer is to train more people. Of course, that will require more teachers and instructors and more double dipping until the lack of manpower is resolved.

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  3. Why do we have a shortage of teachers again? Hell I remember my academic years and the demand for teachers college has massive. I heard undergrads needed an ‘A’ average to create a reasonable application to get in. Is this becoming the new doctor scandal now? We have to import doctors so are they going to do that to teachers next… oops. I shouldn’t have written that or some socialist backstabber will start shilling for that.

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  4. Real Conservative — There are actually far more teacher graduates than there are jobs but, and this is a big but, it’s not so much the numbers as what they specialize in. At the elementary level, anyone with primary junior will get jobs because of the new Ontario full-day JK/SK. Junior and intermediate not so much.

    Then, at the high school level, too many majored in history, geography, phys ed or English. Not enough Chemistry, Physics and Math and French. As a free society we simply can’t demand people fit into slots. So, prospective teachers choose the two teachable subjects they want to teach and those subjects may not be in demand. In other words, it’s a personal choice that may turn out to be wrong.

    So, it’s not the fault of faculties of education because students come to them with a degree already finished. It’s also not the fault of retired teachers that too few are entering the wrong fields.

    If I were a high school student or undergrad today and I wanted to be a teacher, I would do careful research and take all the pre-requisite courses needed to get into the demand majors at university, even if that meant redoing a year. Because, any teacher ed student that finishes this month with a bachelor’s degree in the hard sciences or languages will get a job, of that I can almost guarantee! Meaning, its not just about numbers.

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  5. Is there no ability anywhere in the system to determine what areas of teaching are in demand and proceed accordingly?

    Admitting 100 people with degrees in history, geography, etc into a FofEd when there’s no demand, and excluding people who’d be teaching what is in demand seems pretty messed up. How can anything be done to deal with a shortage of science and math teachers if there’s no means of selecting them to attend a FofED?

    If, as is currently the case, the Faculties of Education are the people who generate “qualified” teachers there is, or should be, some expectation that they graduate people who are in demand at the other end of their program.

    Being the gatekeeper into a profession does carry some responsibilty. If they’re not providing a supply of the people with the quals to do the jobs in demand they’re abrogating their responsibility.

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  6. I don’t think anyone is intentionally bashing retired teachers. But in the general public there is the neo- con myth that teachers have extremely rich pensions so why should they double dip? We know this to not be the case.

    I think it is more an effort to limit the number of teaching days retirees can work to allow new and fresh blood to enter the system and gain experience to get a job in the future…without retirees crowding out the talent.

    Talk to most retirees and they will tell you they do not mind the new changes. Most supply for something to do, not financial security. It’s not a bad gig for $200/day. For those that do, time to explore taking up golf. That’s what my parents did. It’s a great sport, I love it!

    Retired teachers who supply are in the occasional teachers bargaining unit. So they are still members of a union.

    I understand that the ‘me’ generation of the baby boomers makes the whole issue difficult but the pension pasture is a safe and secure place. Working slightly less days to open opportunities for the next generation is the right thing to do. I applaud the OTF for their efforts.

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  7. Sandy, this issue doesn’t have a right answer or a wrong answer. People’s answers are solely based on personal opinion or circumstances. I have many fiscally conservative friends who question the value of hiring a retired teacher for 60000 – 80000 dollars or a new grad for the same job at around 40000 dollars to cover a maternity leave. People have to remember that the issue is more with teachers taking over when other teachers go on maternity leave or is chronically ill. For a day to day supply teacher who fills in when someone is ill, the pay difference between a new grad and retired teacher is minimal. I think that the current system is fair as it puts a limit on the amount of teaching work that a retired teacher does each year (it encourages teachers to decide if they are ready financially to retire). It also encourages new grads to do their research about the job market.

    As a spouse of a retired teacher, you certainly will support retired teachers working after retirement – and that’s your right. Other people may disagree. For me, I want to work with the best possible person, whether it’s a retired teacher or a new grad.

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  8. Is there any provision to introduce a bonus system or faster movement through the grid to teachers who are able or willing to work in areas seen as understaffed?

    I know there are issues around saying one area is more valuable but I suspect there may be more opportunities or fewer competitors in some of the maths and sciences, other than education, and so they’ll command higher salaries to start. There may well be people who’d like to teach but aren’t prepared to do it for a significantly lower salary than they’d command elsewhere, esp when starting out in their working lives.

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  9. Thanks for giving us the full story Sandy. It all points to the need for a better way to evaluate teaching and rewarding or discounting it properly outside of the unions’ grids.

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  10. I know the teacher unions are responsible for bad weather as well but the unions represent both types of members no matter who works. They actually get more money from the higher paid retirees. The principals actually prefer the retirees because they can control classes and plan lessons well.

    The unions have no interest in moving the retirees out. The retirees are very experienced in union matters and can make life difficult for the union if they don’t get support.

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  11. Doug–When my husband supplied with the public board after retirement, he did NOT pay more dues. He paid the same supply teacher dues that anyone else pays. That is only the case, if they end up in long term occasional contracts.

    I have not been approving your comments lately because they are usually just sarcastic and your patronizing “now, now Sandy” doesn’t add to the debate. Like your comment above: “I know the teacher unions are responsible for bad weather…” You lose any credibility when you do that. You may disagree with me but I do try to put forward a reasoned argument. You just make huge generalizations and put downs — which progressives tend to do about anything that disagrees with their position — because the left truly believes only they are right.

    Wrong.

    I am simply not interested in that type of “discussion.”

    Deny that the unions don’t have something to do with what OTF negotiates with the gov’t and the OTPP and its just not credible. Up until a year ago, the rules were different at private schools because those schools were not unionized. Now, the rules are the same. Meaning, retired teachers who are now on 20 days a year can’t even volunteer once those days are used up. When my husband discussed it with an OTPP supervisor it was very clear who was behind the changes.

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  12. Yes unions want to RETAIN the ability of retirees to supply teach. Oh yes, OSSTF supply teachers pay dues based on what they make and retirees make more. The unions actually tilt towards the retirees. It is internally divisive. BCTF just had a big floor fight when I attended their convention.

    The unions are very happy to keep the retirees working. They would opt for the 90 days it it were up to them. The pressure is coming from the government.

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  13. Doug — Internally divisive and the pressure is coming from the gov’t. Why? How will the gov’t benefit by cutting the retirees off almost entirely? Mind you, many boards cut them off years ago. For example the DSBN. They shut that option down in the spring of 2001. I remember because my husband retired early in June 2001, then in September 2002 he started teaching half time in a private school. And spent the five-year window plus his official three years doing that and loved it. Found it more collegial and less confrontational. However, within a couple of months, he will “finally” be retired — at least from teaching. LOL

    But I would like to know more about this floor fight. If you have any links to a source, I would appeciate it and I would write a clarification update if it called for that. I have yet to be convinced, however.

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  14. I was invited by friends in BCTF to their convention. While there, the issue of what should be BCTF’s position vis a vis the government and the boards on this same question we are looking at. Of course every young teacher from Winnepeg to Vistoria wants to work for the VSB or failing that, a lower mainland board.

    They call substitute teachers, “teachers-on-call” naturally now known as TOCs. Some young teachers are in their 5th year as TOCs. They are members and their allies fought for the position that the retirees need to move on faster so they can get more work. The retirees naturally said, “if you eliminate or reduce my ability to be a TOC I will simply respond by delaying my retirement further, bottlenecking the jobs even further. The debate was heated on both sides. The retirees said, “it is my human right to work as long as I want, there is no retirement age any more.” As I have mentioned it is quite internally devisive in the unions. I can only speak for OSSTF but they do tilt towards the retirees. Many retirees were quite powerful in union jobs before they retired so they have a much stronger internal lobby.

    The government wants to save money, they don’t want the system to look like it has “double dippers”. Now, is somebody going to cut off the retired principals and SOs who return on contract? My guess is no.

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  15. Doug — T’is true that there is no must retire age now. Thing is teachers usually retire long before age 65. Most between age 53 and 55, too young for the rocking chair that is for sure. Politics is in every walk of life and in every nook and cranny of our society.

    And, its true. If teachers can’t retire and then do a little bit of work or volunteering, then they’ll simply put off their retirement. No one should be forced out unless there is a question of competence.

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  16. Circle the calendar Sandy, I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU.

    (Average teacher retiement age for OSSTF members is 57. This is not necessarily the average for all teachers since ETFO is much larger. I don’t know if they go earlier.)

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  17. Are there large numbers of qualified principals and SOs looking for work and unable to find it?

    If not that’d make it a considerably different scenario than the issue currently being debated.

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  18. John L — Interesting question. Any answers out there? My best guess is that very few retired superintendants or principals want to return to work in education.

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  19. Because John L does not understand the system very well, he does not understand that boards hire by subject based on their needs and are also able to protect teachers from senority based layoffs if their subject is in demand.

    The boards are full of short term contracts for principals and SOs. What do you do when a principal is sick for a long time. SOs usually work on projects.

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  20. I know the “system” well enough to know that raising the issue of principals and SOs being hired back on contract is a very different issue than the issue being discussed, which was the issue of retired teachers being rehired and the impact on young teachers.

    The reference to principals and SOs was a red herring

    In any event whether or not I “know the system very well” isn’t up for debate.

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