Why aren't teachers paid fairly?

Arne Ulbricht, 41, is a teacher in a vocational college near Wuppertal; He has refused to be accepted as a civil servant. About his experiences he has the book: "Teacher: Dream job or horror job?" written.

Almost all teachers agree: their pay is unfair. What do teachers earn? You can easily google your salaries. But it's not that simple: There are civil servants and salaried teachers, there are federal states in which civil servants are no longer employed, but there are still many civil servant colleagues.

One thing is for sure: A civil servant, 40-year-old grammar school teacher with A13 salary, married, two children, has a monthly net salary of 500 euros more than an employed teacher in the same tax bracket than an employed teacher - that adds up to the value of a nice condominium over the course of his professional life . In total, he receives around 3000 euros net per month, private health insurance has already been deducted, not including child benefit. However: even twenty years later it won't be more than 4,000 euros net.

The unequal treatment of employees and civil servants is an almost grotesque injustice. It is possible that someone with the same degree earns significantly less, even though he does the same or even more. Employed teachers are treated by the state in much the same way as women in business - strangely enough, the state only complains about the unequal treatment of women. But even if all teachers everywhere were consistently civil servants, the system would remain unfair. Because commitment and performance are not financially worthwhile. There is hardly any other profession in which, for example, the weekly working hours and thus the workload are distributed as unevenly as in the teaching profession.

Some subject combinations are always particularly labor-intensive

My example is the proof: With history and French, I teach subjects that are not examination subjects at my current school, a vocational college. I do not have to correct either the Abitur or four-hour advanced course exams; I rarely take oral exams. I only teach beginners French, which doesn't require nearly as much preparation as an advanced course. At a bilingual school with French as a main subject, my challenges would be very different. I would have to teach history in French and would have an advanced course, would go on school trips and organize French exchanges.

At our school, however, the sports teachers, for example, are the hard workers; there is a whole department with a focus on sports. Sports teachers are therefore almost always advanced course teachers. They are constantly on the move because the students are doing internships and have to be attended at their internships. You have to take written and practical exams. At our school they work on average 20 percent more than I would work with a full deputate. I'm almost embarrassed. Because a sports teacher only earns more because he is a civil servant, but not because he does more.

Of course, there are subject combinations that are always particularly labor-intensive, German and English for example. For almost all other subjects, the workload depends on the school you ended up at. Nobody is really happy with this system. But nobody wants to change it either. There are certainly opportunities to modify the salary system.

Base salary plus bonus system

Why shouldn't all teachers receive a basic salary that could even be lower than the current starting salary? Every teacher receives this salary for simply teaching 25 hours including break supervision (and 28 hours at elementary and secondary schools because of the lower number of corrections). Furthermore, taking on a class leadership should be one of the basic duties - but nothing more.

And then a bonus system is introduced. For example for German and English teachers because of the high number of corrections (alternatively, they should teach less). Or for taking on an advanced course or a course in which more than four oral final exams take place.

The willingness to go on class trips, to take on a work group, to take care of computers, copiers, projectors or to create the substitution plan, also the administration of the school homepage or the organization of events is rewarded. In no case, however, should the grade point average of the class being taught influence the salary. Different classes can have different levels of performance. And no teacher should be incentivized to give away grades.

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At the moment, only a few tasks are specially remunerated. Teachers who, for example, take on the senior level management or entire departments, are paid higher - however, the difference to the salary of a teacher who works according to regulations is small. It is obvious that performance-related pay would be fairer. A German teacher who has an advanced course and really strings together the sixty-hour weeks would be paid better than someone like me who is currently unable to take on advanced courses at the vocational college.

Teachers like me can do the job with a clear conscience

In the job interview or before hiring, it should and could be pointed out what chances of bonuses there are. And those who are ambitious apply primarily to schools where there are career prospects for their subjects. Then many schools would have particularly motivated teachers for their respective areas of focus.

Certainly: there can be competition, disputes and injustice. Maybe someone just doesn't get an advanced course because they are all taken. But the majority of teachers, who often regret that their numerous special assignments are not worth it, would be served. And teachers like me could do the job with a clear conscience. I don't want to teach anything more than my subjects. And many colleagues are sure to feel the same way as me. If teachers were paid based on performance, many teacher clich├ęs would also disappear from the minds of many non-teachers. They then think about the teacher they see on the tennis court in the afternoon: He's only going to get his basic salary.

A performance-based payment would be a new, different incentive to become a teacher - the prospect of civil service also attracts candidates who are primarily looking for security and then often fail in this beautiful and strenuous profession. It would take a lot of effort to implement this idea. But for more justice you shouldn't shy away from the effort.