What teachers are expected to do for their pay has become untenable, writes Beck Vass.
For most parents, the upcoming teachers' strike is a bit of a pain.
And that is exactly what May 29 is meant to be. No one goes on strike not to be noticed.
It's difficult to find anyone who does not support the teachers and their fight for better working conditions.
Anyone who has ever benefitted from having a great teacher and those of us with children at school can see what an incredible job teachers do and the impact they have.
The Ministry of Education states that primary school teacher salaries average $72,900 and secondary teachers $79,500.
Many New Zealanders would consider these salaries above average - as they should be. Teachers perform a very important role.
But it isn't nearly as much when you consider most teachers are taking on extra responsibilities to get those salaries.
It also doesn't seem a lot for those teaching at senior levels where teachers say pay scales plateau compared to other degree-based professions.
Talk to teachers and it isn't so much their pay that is the problem, although that is part of it. It's what they are expected to do for it that has become untenable.
Many of them are working themselves into the ground: they work into their nights, weekends and of course, school "holidays", completing all they need to do for the good of their students. Not all teachers do this, but many do.
Over the years teaching has changed. Teachers are performing an ever-widening range of roles. They have increasingly diverse classrooms and more students. They're dealing with more kids with learning and behavioural difficulties.
They've got to be across 20 to 30 different kids and their families, managing each child's needs, their strengths and weaknesses, trying to get all of them across the line by the end of the year.
They're on duty before and after school and at lunchtimes. They're planning sports days and school productions and discos and school camps. They're marking, planning, reporting. All things that keep them away from their own families.
They're at Kmart, often spending their own money on crafts and stickers and prizes for learning and good behaviour.
They're social workers, counsellors, nurses and sort-of mums and dads as well as being teachers. All for our kids.
So, does the upcoming strike bother me? Not for my own inconvenience, it doesn't.
But it bothers me for the future of all the teachers and support staff in New Zealand, for the future of education in our country, for the future of our kids.
The school system isn't currently working for our teachers, particularly for our experienced ones and, to be honest, I'm not sure how much it works for families either.
Is it time to rethink the entire education system? Or is it our working weeks that need to change? Maybe we need to do both.
In an age where most parents need to work, does a 9am-3pm school day make sense when most jobs are at least 9am-5pm (and often much more than that)?
Is a 12-week break over summer and two-week holiday between terms the best way to run things?
Can we change what is being taught at schools or the way it is being taught so teachers (and school managers) aren't getting bogged down with bureaucracy?
Teachers are burnt out. They are overworked.
They're screaming to be heard. Is anyone listening?