What happened to treating teachers like professionals?

The principal is correct – it is an odd way to pay a few teachers for doing what everyone else is doing (“Top principal questions ‘odd’ salary plan”, February 22). That level of remuneration must be open to every teacher as they progress through the accreditation system and be the top of the scale for experienced teachers. Capping limits the expectations and aspirations of teachers entering the profession. Money is only part of the solution as teachers are a dedicated lot who willingly go above and beyond what they are paid for to help their students. However, when they are being turned into data collectors, have the curriculum controlled outside the profession, undervalued and exposed to the problems and issues of students without the help required then they will leave.
Funny thing I have noticed with other professions – the higher the salary the more they and their professional judgment is respected. Why not with teachers? Augusta Monro, Dural

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt Golding

What happened to treating teachers like professionals? In most countries teaching is a sought after profession and teachers are respected for playing a vital role in guiding children for the future. In Australia teaching has been downgraded to the point where incentives are being offered to tempt people to study to be teachers. As for paying only a percentage of good teachers more – why is there a limit on the number of good teachers who can be recognised? If a teacher can be classified as “not good”, why can’t they attend coaching sessions to help them improve their skills? Judith Rostron, Killarney Heights

The principal confirms the shocking truth exposed by your correspondent (Letters, February 22). The Commonwealth is paying considerably higher salaries to private school teachers than the NSW state government is to their teachers. The term “private” is a misnomer. We, the taxpayer, fund the salaries of private school teachers to the tune of $16 billion a year. This frees their nominal employer, the school, to spend their other income on showcase facilities which have little to do with education.

Meanwhile, our state government, in failing to meet the Schooling Resource Standard, wilfully underfunds our public schools. Moreover, it chooses not to build schools in new suburbs. Instead, as Minister for Education Susan Mitchell has said, it provides capital grants to independent schools in those areas. The government mantra of providing “consumer choice” leaves parents with no choice at all.

To our detriment, governments are actively working to ensure our education system becomes even more divisive and inequitable. Both levels of government must rethink their philosophies and practices to ensure public education is properly funded. Access to education is a basic right and should not be dependent on privilege. Anne Croker, Woonona

Let’s go back in time. It’s the 1960s and there is a serious teacher shortage in NSW. Teachers are being brought in from UK and USA. To encourage “locals” to enter the profession, the Department of Education offered scholarships covering university and college fees with a small living allowance included. In return, we (the prospective teachers) agreed to teach anywhere in the state for five years – or pay back $1000 per year for not teaching. As well, there was a transfer system in operation and after three years in one school, you could apply for another location. No interview, just based on fitting the job description. Teacher housing was also available in the more remote areas which made for a comfortable and affordable existence. Schools in all areas of NSW were staffed with young, well-trained and enthusiastic teachers. Anne Szczurowski, Lambton

To simply say “we will pay the best teachers more” when there is currently no viable way to select the best teachers, and “we will give principals more autonomy” (read more administrative tasks) will not work. There needs to be a proper incentive to remain in the profession, perhaps by a years-of-service supplement to the superannuation, along with the recognition that the constant and mandated assessment tasks do nothing to improve the educational standard. Robert Hosking, Paddington

As a retired teacher who enjoyed over 50 years in the profession, I have always thought that the training methods were wrong. No person should go straight from school to teacher training. Instead, they should be apprenticed for a full year. Those who know the age group they prefer should spend all four terms within that group, but in four different classes or schools. The undecided should spend one term each in infants, primary and high school and the fourth in one of their choice.
By then, the undecided would be weeded out and those who thought it would be a “9-5 and all holidays” sort of job would not even bother to apply. Molly Hailstones, Leumeah

Disharmony over Bluesfest

Cherie Gilmour says “Bands have one job: play music and give people a good time” (“Bluesfest protest is cancel culture gone wrong”, February 22). It seems that she is not old enough to have lived through the Vietnam War years, nor has she looked closely enough at the history of popular music in the 1960s and early 1970s.

In the early 1960s, before the anti-war movement gained a measure of popularity, folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, and others spread the antiwar message through their music. Then there were artists like Bob Dylan, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Jimi Hendrix, Willie Nelson and others who sang songs of very pointed protest. This music had a powerful effect on the generation that were being drafted in the US to go and fight this senseless war.Artists of varying modes – music, literature, painting, cartoons – will, and should, continue to show us the folly of our ways when politicians dupe us into following them down futile paths. They are the modern-day court jesters. John Whiteing, Willoughby

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have withdrawn from the upcoming Bluesfest at Byron Bay

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have withdrawn from the upcoming Bluesfest at Byron BayJason Galea

My understanding of your writer’s view is that musicians, and more broadly artists, are unqualified to give moral advice to the public. I agree to an extent, because some musicians offer nothing more than their music. However, this issue has been oversimplified.

Musicians have more than one job – the good ones extricate us from our lives to show us that there’s something more, that there’s a meaning behind it all. It’s a sacred and timeless dynamic. Jack Kelly, Carlingford

If I went through my record collection I’m sure I’d have to dispose of a vast number of them due to inappropriate behaviour or infringements by artists or band members. Yes, I may abhor their actions, but what purpose will it now serve me throwing out my cache? So, I’ll hold on to my collection and continue enjoying the music. Con Vaitsas, Ashbury

The members of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard must be those rare people who manage to traverse life never hurting or offending anyone. When doing an inventory of their own virtues, they may like to add compassion and understanding to the remorseful, particularly those who struggle with mental illness. Elisabeth Goodsall, Wahroonga

Well said, Cherie Gilmour. If we used the “King Gizzard method”, we’d probably have to cancel the music of Bon Scott, Michael Hutchence, Angus Young, Chrissie Amphlett and many other legendary wild ones. The Oz rock playlist would look a bit light-on. Jeff Apter, Keiraville

Censor censure

Imagine. Roald Dahl at his desk, choosing each word and its order with deliberate precision, creating his desired effect (Letters, February 22). Some time later, a body decides to revamp this widely loved, wildly successful work to suit … I can’t quite tell. I can imagine this blow to Dahl. I experience it each time one of my letters is published in the . Marie Del Monte, Ashfield

In the spirit of political correctness and amending texts to better reflect modern society could somebody please employ me to review the Bible? Rob Siebert, Skennars Head

I’m just waiting for the politically correct revised version of Mel Brooks’ . It’ll be short, with the opening and closing credits making up the entire movie. Should be a blockbuster.
David Ramsay, Bexley

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John Shakespeare

While they are still rewriting characters in books, can they reissue George Orwell’s 1984 with Big Brother replaced by ‘Benevolent larger-sized sibling’? Evan Bailey, Glebe

When I hear of “sensitivity readers” in a modern country such as Australia tasked with reinterpreting a writer’s original text, why is it that all I hear is something akin to Iran’s “morality police”? Bill Young, Killcare Heights

Traditional methods needed to deal with fire threat

Greg Mullins advocates more resources for the firestorms just around the corner (“As La Nina wanes, we face a smouldering threat”, February 22).

A string of fire chiefs whose record includes disaster and despair has systematically undermined the bushmen and women who faced the risk of fire with very few resources at all.

Generations of bushcraft stretching back 60,000 years and taught to white settlers is now illegal. Try lightning a bit of bush on your farm like your predecessors and watch as the law shows up to stop you.

Flora and fauna like the koala that have evolved dependent upon cool burning and hazard reduction by their human co-inhabitants are now vulnerable to extinction. Our obligation to them is to manage their habitat not leave it alone.

The elephant in the room can’t be managed with more trucks and volunteers if those aren’t allowed let alone encouraged to tame the elephant rather than scramble, dangerously, to try to stop it on the run. New thinking and old skills are needed to undo the otherwise-inevitable catastrophe looming in our bush and rooted in our bureaucracy. Peter Comensoli, Mangrove Mountain

Three years ago, Australia faced the worst bushfire season on record.

Three years ago, Australia faced the worst bushfire season on record. Dean Sewell

Reforms should address inequalities

Once again we see the big end of town squirming, this time over Labor’s attempt to address the huge superannuation tax inequity that gives the wealthy an unfair advantage (“Key crossbench interest in tax changes”, February 22). Stay strong and go for it Treasurer Jim Chalmers. This is only one of the huge reforms needed to make our society a better place. Christine May, South Durras

Rolling back superannuation tax concessions could be step one in narrowing the gap between rich and poor. Anthony Albanese allegedly flies on the left wing which would be consistent with cancelling the stage three tax cuts to the wealthy, cancelling negative gearing and the dividend imputation scheme. This and many other cuts would see money available for NDIS, aged care and social housing; I can see the gap narrowing as I write. If we balanced our books and maintained our sovereignty by having a “friends to all and enemy of none” policy we would cancel our submarine order and have enough to narrow the other gap causing the harrowing situation in the Alice and NT. Now that would be a Labor government. Steve Johnson, Eastgardens

Spend more time on better international relations

The prime minister asks us to believe that only by spending one hundred billion dollars plus to cement our military relationship with the United States against a theoretical military threat from our major trading partner, will we be safe (“AUKUS ‘the single biggest leap’ in defence capability: PM”, February 22). Surely, this is a brave bet on a good day given the long-term political instability within the United States.

There’s an alternative to this military madness of course; that Australia plays an active role in the region promoting disarmament for all nations, that we sign onto the UN Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, and that we use better relations with China and other nations in the region to create peace and prosperity at home and in our region. Peace is always cheaper, and certainly the only way that guarantees a long and happy life for all. Colin Hesse, Marrickville

More competitive with higher fares?

Alan Joyce says, “We don’t define the prices, the market does” (“Qantas ploughs profit into lounges”, February 22). Just let me get this straight: I think he’s saying Qantas has to increase its fares to “compete” with the other 56 international airlines. Economics was never my best subject at school. Kevin Hunt, Kenthurst

Improve public system to reduce private enrolments

It’s curious that among the plethora of outrage about “inequality” between private and public education, that few acknowledge the reality of reverse inequality in the global government education funding of 3:1 in favour of the public sector compared to funding granted to the private education sector (Letters, February 22). As taxpayers, why shouldn’t parents with children enrolled in private schools be outraged and themselves demand more equitable returns for their contributions to the education budget globally?

Rather than continually bleating about perceived inequalities in the funding of the public system, which is patently false, the key question commentators ought to ask themselves is this: Why do parents increasingly opt to make massive personal financial sacrifices to send their children to private schools (and not opt to utilise free public schools)?

Perhaps public education mandarins ought to focus more on replicating whatever is being delivered by the private sector to which parents of private school students aspire. There’s a very good reason why private school parents are voting with their feet. Carlo Garofali, Caringbah South

What do we know about ASIO?

ASIO has the perfect business model (“Spies are rife, warns ASIO chief”, February 22). They receive guaranteed public funding yet we’re not allowed to know how they spend that money. Every year the boss breaks cover to give a speech in which he invariably claims that security threats to Australia have increased. Of course, the demands of intelligence require that he can’t tell us any specifics of that claim, just some tantalising generalities. Nevertheless, each year the budget for ASIO is increased. What if it’s all an elaborate confidence trick? What if ASIO actually does nothing? We’d never know. David Salter, Hunters Hill

‘Lion’s heart’: The comparisons between Volodymyr Zelensky and Winston Churchill are not apt.

‘Lion’s heart’: The comparisons between Volodymyr Zelensky and Winston Churchill are not apt.Washington Post

Churchill not in Zelensky’s class

The comparison between Winston Churchill and Volodymyr Zelensky is hardly “apt” (“Ukraine’s roar has changed the world”, February 22). Churchill was an aristocrat who sold out the people of the Channel Islands to Germany in 1940. Zelensky, a man of the people, has not sacrificed a piece of Ukraine to appease the Russians. If one is looking for a comparison with Churchill one need look no further than Robert Menzies who, in 1941, proposed the Brisbane Line to thwart a potential invasion from the Japanese. Patricia Farrar, Concord

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback on Tuesday on smh.com.au
AUKUS ‘the single biggest leap’ in defence capability: Albanese
From Golfer’s lament: “A $100b monument to a warmongering folly which makes Australia and the region less safe. An unsustainable, counterproductive, poorly thought-out strategic mistake which future generations will be unable to pay for. Quite a legacy.”

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