23 SES 10 A, Policy Reforms and the Regulation of Teachers and Their Work
This paper is going to discuss why and how the Swedish government entered a ground forbidden for them since 1936 and what tools they used to be able to influence the teacher’s salary level. Back in 1936, it were decided that the employer associations, both private and public, should deal with salary negotiations in Sweden together with the different trade unions and they promised to take the responsibility to create a comprehensive salary market and then the state should not interfere in this process.
During the recent decades, there has been an urgency over falling test results and declining rankings on Pisa and other international test regimes. It has become a large problem on the national political level along with a sense of urgency to take action. The state has searched for explanations to the falling results. One of the first reasons they put forward for was that international testing’s were not in line with the Swedish National curriculum objectives for the school system. This is to some extent still an argument but the state has also looked at the governing chain and focused on deficits between national, district and school level leadership. In addition, the blame are directed toward the local authorities for not taking the full responsibility for the schools after the transfer of responsibility from the state to the municipalities back in 1994.
However, the expected improvement did not occur and then they started to look at differences in relation to other European countries. In addition, they found that teacher salaries in Europe were higher than in Sweden. They also found a discussion in Sweden, but not as clear in Europe, that the teachers had too much administration and used less and less time on traditional classroom teaching. This was one of his argument to start intervening in the salary process for teachers.
One of the Governments arguments was that the municipalities had not taken the full responsibility for career ladders and teachers’ salaries and they argued that teacher salaries have had a slower increase than comparable occupations. They also understood that they could not as a start set new salaries. They had to find another way. The solution became the introduction of a new teacher position for the most qualified teachers. Because most stakeholders in the public debate agreed that, there was too narrow distribution of salaries in relation to the competency of teachers. This solution implied the introduction of a new teacher position called 1st teacher along with a 500 Euro salary increase. This were done without interference in the salary process because it was a new teacher position. The money the government provided was meant to be given to a small group of teacher at each school.
The consequences of this central initiative were severe with widespread complains as a consequence. There were many teachers in every school who argued that they were as good as the few that were awarded the position of 1st teacher.
In that situation, the Government decided on another step to increase teachers’ salaries. This time they did interfere in the salary process by giving each municipality, economic resources to do a so called “teacher boost of salaries” for the best teachers. The critique of this initiative, especially from teachers who did not get a rise was massive expressing a deep disappointment along with threats to change jobs.
The aim in this article is to discuss this state interference in the salary process: Our main research question is to discuss what happened that was intended to happen and what happened that was unintended effects.
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