I was once an employee of the Waterloo Region District School Board. The thought of twenty-seven dollars an hour wooed me in to believing I would make the income I ever-so-deserved after spending well over $15,000 on the post secondary education necessary for this position.
Boy, was I wrong.
When I was in college, I dreamed of working for the school board. I loved the idea of fostering the way our future generation perceives the world, and collaborating with another educator to create this amazing harmony within one classroom setting.
Boy, was I wrong
I thought working for the school board would be this incredible experience with great hours, and equality. I thought it would be somewhere where employees would be treated with respect, and be appreciated as individuals.
Boy, was I wrong.
The truth is that working for the school board was none of the above. Now, before I continue, this is in NO way meant to bash or degrade teachers. This is to explain some discrepancies, and inequalities happening within our education system.
Oh god, I don't even know where to start! I guess I will talk about wages first, since that was one of the biggest issues I noticed. Now, the school board sucks ECEs in by telling them that their top possible wage is twenty-seven dollars an hour which seems EXTREMELY appealing when you think about it. It is, until you do the math. I calculated roughly what that equals out to before taxes, not only for the ten months of the school year BUT I also calculated what the "summer break" income is, since ECEs take a 40% pay cut in the summer. This is because the board will not put them on a salary income (unlike teachers) so they need to collect EI in the summer.
So, lets get to the math. ECEs make approximately $3,780 per month at $27/hr. This doesn't sound too bad, right?
Well, lets times that by 10 months since school only runs 10 months out of the year. That brings us to $37,800. Now let's leave this number for a second to talk about the "summer break" months. I divided $27/hr by 60% (27÷1.60) Which brought me to 16.87.
I rounded down to 16 for the sake of easy math. From there I calculated 2 months worth pay at $16/hr. This brought me to $4,480 for TWO MONTHS of income.
Now the easy part. Add the initial $37,800 and $4,480. It gives us $42,280 per year BEFORE TAX DEDUCTIONS. This is for a TOP PAID ECE. That means the MOST they can make in the school board is a measley $42,280.
Now, some of you may think "fourty thousand a year isn't too bad." Well, when you compare it to our teaching partner's (teachers) top income it looks like peanuts. Teachers in their top wage category rake in a whopping $94,000 a YEAR. Now, they are on salary so they don't need to apply for EI and are free to leave the country or do whatever they want during their "summer break". I understand that teachers and ECEs both have important and differing roles within the classroom, HOWEVER is it really worth a $51,000 annual wage difference?? The answer is NO. I could understand a $10,000 - $15,000 difference but $51,000 is quite a gap and as far as I'm concerned its a BIG slap in the face to ECEs as it shows us that we aren't worth a fair wage.
Okay, now moving on!
Let's talk about "supervision times". ECEs are in the classroom ALL day except for their one hour worth breaks. A teacher spends about four to five hours in program per day because they are not generally present during nutrition breaks (which we supervise) and they are also given at least one hour of "planning time" per day where they can leave the classroom and plan curricular activities. I would have no issues if ECEs were given planning time as well, HOWEVER we are EXPECTED to do any of our curricular planning before and after school OR on our own UNPAID time. This makes it very difficult for ECEs working extended day in particular because they are always in program. How is that fair? Its not. How about parent teacher interviews? Teachers are paid for it in their salary, but ECEs are told its "volunteer" if they attend. The school board boasts about equality, meanwhile they are discriminating against their own employees and treating us like worthless scum.
Let's talk briefly on classroom roles. I have worked with some AMAZING teachers who see us entirely as equals, but I have also worked with some who see us as no more than a cleaning lady and a baby sitter. I am so sick of hearing the words “float and circulate”. Those words make me cringe when I hear them. It is a really fancy way of saying “make sure they don't kill each other”. Many times, we are expected to be on our feet patrolling the classroom while the teacher sits and engages, or runs small groups.
WE ARE FULLY CAPABLE OF RUNNING SMALL GROUPS.
There, I said it.
We did curriculum classes, just like teachers. Our schooling did not consist of being the classroom warden, or making playdough. We learned how to observe, document and plan curricular activities. We can be educators sometimes too for a change, instead of being the person that just walks around the room figuring out why mary said annie can't go to her birthday party.
ECEs are commonly dictated and bossed around by teachers (not all) and given the”jobs” they don't want to do, such as sweeping up after lunch and dealing with Johnny who peed his pants. It seems more often than not that there is no harmony, and that it feels like a boss / employee relationship rather than an equal partnership.
The reality is that ECEs are not respected in the way they should be. I could go on and on and on and on about every single little detail, but at that point I would have written a novel. These are just SOME of the main points that led me to leave the school board, and pursue a career elsewhere. It really is so dissappointing to give up on something I was once so passionate about, but working for the school board really ruined my outlook on education.
To everyone thinking of working as an ECE for the school board, run FAR FAR away and don't look back.
To all ECEs currently working in the school board, GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN.
To the school board it's self,
You would have a much smaller ECE turnover and burn out rate if you treated them with a little more respect.
A really frustrated educator.