Friday, January 28, 2011

Double dipping

I'm a bit late getting to John Noseworthy, Newfoundland and Labrador's Auditor General, report. It came out on Wednesday. An auditor general's report is like Christmas for reporters because no government is perfect and there is always waste and mismanagement no matter how diligent the politicians and senior management are.

This report is no different and while there are certainly areas that annoy me, the one that really sets my fuse alight can be found at the top of this story (or you can go to The Telegram's story). The AG found that a lot of teachers who had retired were being rehired and were drawing double benefits. They were getting their pension on top of drawing a salary. And, just for a kicker, they got these positions even though there were qualified teachers applying for the job.

Teacher hiring practices in Newfoundland has long been one of those things that pops my blood pressure up a notch or two. Cathy's made her peace with it and shrugs her shoulders. But the sheer volume of cronyism that goes on with hiring teachers in the province is maddening and this AG's report is proof of that. Are there rare parts of the province where it is hard to get a teacher? I'm sure there. Positions in places like northern Labrador are notoriously difficult to fill. But I'm willing to bet of all of those double dipping positions that about 80 per cent of more of them had perfectly qualified people applying for them.

I remember when I was in town hearing horror stories of teachers with 20 years experience coming back from Alberta and scrounging for 1/8 time positions while someone fresh out of the education facility lands a full-time permanent job. Why? Because they're related to someone, or their parents are best friends with a principal.

It's not quite to the point where there's money exchanging hands, but by god if that actually happened, I would not be the least bit surprised. The system used to hire teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador is deeply broken. I have no idea how to fix it, but the first step ought to be pointing out that double dipping teachers is wrong and an insult to everyone out there working 1/8 positions or teaching in other parts of Canada because there's "no jobs available in Newfoundland." The next step ought to be to admit that favouritism happens way to often when teachers are hired.

I honestly don't think anyone can look at the teaching system in Newfoundland and say the best teachers get hired every time there's an opening. There are a lot of good teachers there, don't get me wrong. But how they're hired can be done better. And rather than the union and the government blaming each other or making excuses, perhaps they might undertake the radical notion of actually trying to fix it.

Last Five
1. Close call - Rilo Kiley
2. Lover's day - TV on the Radio
3. You got lucky - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
4. Ohio (Live) - Neil Young
5. Memories and dust - Josh Pyke*


Geoff Meeker said...

This story broke wide open about eight weeks ago, well before the AG Report, on VOCM Open Line, of all places. Teacher after teacher called in, with personal stories about how they were being squeezed out of the profession because of cronyism. There wasn't a lot of mention of retirees being hired - that adds another layer of stench to the shitpile - but it got so bad that Education Minister Darin King was calling almost daily, spraying around the Febreze, and eventually launched an internal investigation that found... nothing was wrong! It really is time for a labour inquiry into the whole situation.

Richard, Margot and Lilibeth said...

As a teacher I would just like to add that these problems are not just in Newfoundland. The "double dipping" of retired teachers is happening everywhere and is completely disheartening! The question is how will the system change? Those in power like the system as it is because it is to their advantage (and their friend's). If you find a solution out east could you let the rest of us know? Thanks

Way Way Up said...

Definitely a big problem elsewhere and one of the major reasons I had no desire to teach in Ontario when I finished teachers college.