Letter of the Day | Where is the middle ground?
THE EDITOR, Madam:
I must applaud some of the prep schools providing tuition discounts due to COVID-19. However, it is clearly unfair that some of the same schools are advising teachers that they will not be paid for the summer months, for which teachers normally get paid. This pay allows teachers to survive, given our low wages for the months of the ‘normal school year’. Without it, teachers are crippled. Why is this happening? Some schools are discounting tuition rates so much that they can’t pay teachers.
I saw a listing noting that schools are providing discounts from 2.5 per cent up to 50 per cent. Queen’s Prep leads the way with a 50 per cent discount, according to a social-media post. No doubt, the move to save the parents 50 per cent is kind, but how kind is it to the teachers who will not be paid anything? When you do the math of not paying teachers versus tuition discounts, it is clear that teachers are bearing the brunt for the schools’ tuition reductions.
I am for fairness. Discounting tuition at the expense of your staff, to the point that the staff is being prepped to have no income for three months, is not fair or humane. How do teachers pay bills? How do teachers put food on the table? How do teachers have the strength to continue?
I ask the schools that are making headlines with 50 per cent tuition cuts to rethink how they are treating their staff. Fair is fair. Provide a discount if your organisation can afford it, but do not kill your staff to do it.
On the other side of the coin, some schools that are offering less than 25 per cent discounts to their parents need to take a better look at the economics of the nation. Liguanea Prep, allegedly, is providing 15 per cent, for example. Parents can’t afford to pay school fees and feed their kids due to reductions in income. Many will struggle to make tuition payments.
The senior leaders in education need to meet in the middle. Tuition discounts that make a school unable to compensate their teachers are too much. Discounts under 25 per cent are too little! The large variance in discounts is too much. While we are in a free market, let’s think it through. School leaders, be better and admit that mistakes have been made. Review and come back to the table with reasonable tuition discounts that do not force schools to cripple teachers by paying them nothing. As for the parents, give them a decent discount, on an average of 25 per cent, so they can keep their kids in schools, as well as feeding them.
I am happy for each school to fairly and transparently advise us what their tuition discounts are and what their teachers are facing in terms of salary reductions. I am confident The Gleaner will publish the correct position. Too much and too little. School managers, do the right thing. Be fair … be transparent.