3 March 2002


About ten years ago (circa 1990) a union official with no educational experience (apart presumably from suffering it through childhood) managed to become head of the Teacher's union.

Jenny George (no relative to Boy I think) did an extremely popular thing.  Some teachers (e.g.. humanities, art) have qualifications that are (how can we put this nicely-) less than utterly demanding in their obtaining, and those qualifications tend to not commonly have high commercial value.  Other qualifications (Maths & Engineering spring to mind) require rigorous study schedules to obtain, and graduates in those disciplines are in high demand and attract generous remuneration in a free enterprise economy.  Those commercial realities were at that time reflected in teacher's remuneration packages.

Even ten years ago, most teachers in the government school system were hunanities teachers.  There was a perennial shortage of Maths and Science teachers, and a perennial oversupply in just about everything else.   (As measured for instance by the response to offers for employment).  Even so, teachers of Maths & Science only earned a pittance more than colleagues in the first group.  It was grudgingly admitted that the extra remuneration was compensation for the more demanding qualifications, and for the high commercial demand attached to those qualifications.  (And after all, that is why people get educated, isn't it? To get more money).

Jenny George's genius was to see that a majority of teachers would like it if she negotiated for everyone to be paid the same.

So she negotiated an agreement with the State government.  All teachers got the same money.

It was explained to the science and math teachers: "You are all in the same business, which is education.  So you all get the same money."

A few years later a successful Jenny George progressed upwards through head of the ACTU (Australia's premier trade union organization) then on to membership of Federal Parliament.

Behind her, the public education system degenerated into chaos.  No school (except in the most desirable locations, e.g.. Eastern Suburbs, North Coast) can obtain & hold a new Science or Maths teachers, and what exists are the near retirement career teachers.  There are lots of young humanities teachers however.  They are demonstrating for more government money to rescue the public education system.  But that extra money can not be used to pay differentially more money for maths and science teachers.

As a consequence there is a flood of students crossing to the private education system.  Private schools pay maths and science teachers much more money than they pay humanities teachers.  They even pay humanities teachers better than the public system.

The (socialist) state Government is ecstatic.  They now have to pay for fewer teachers each year.  That means more money for their own parliamentary retirement schemes & for overseas junkets (er - fact finding tours).  The only possible complainers are those who lack the political skills required to complain, and who cannot afford to move over to the Private system.  That is the marginals and the aboriginals & the poorer immigrant ethnic groups.

Those groups lack the education and savvy to know that they are being rorted.

Interestingly, this outcome was produced by those same socialists who continually adopt the high moral ground in race relations etc.


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