Technology as public education: Determining just wages in a teacher labor contract

Roy Royce Twaddle, Salve Regina University


Based upon the thesis that public education represents a technology of human maturation essential to an advanced technological society, this study examines one controversial aspect of the teaching system: the public teacher labor contract. More specifically, this inquiry applies the social concept of the just wage to the contractual labor agreement in a specific public school district. ^ The financial settlement, which represents about two-thirds of such agreements, is often the most difficult aspect of these contract negotiations. Money and benefit issues can be highly charged with emotion, leading to bitter deadlocks and teacher strikes. Consequently, two key questions will be addressed: Can adjustments to the existing negotiating process obviate these disputes so detrimental to public education? Is the existing process influenced by a technological mind-set that subtly suppresses or enhances different views of fair compensation when citizens negotiate with public school teachers to educate their children? ^ Through contract analysis and document reviews, the study examines the essential factors determining a just wage. This contract analysis is based on a close study of the differences between two successive and recently negotiated teacher contracts. The analysis focuses on specific contract provisions when economic variables have been separated from other issues. Economic variables are the monetary rewards and collateral or fringe benefits that are direct or indirect forms of compensation included in a just wage. Documents that help to clarify the economic variables are official memoranda, letters, educational policies, and reports of contract negotiations published by the news media. ^ The most recent teacher contract is then assessed from three perspectives of fairness to determine how, why, and to what extent the public education system—as an advanced technology—promotes or obstructs the determination of a just wage. Six ethical criteria for a just wage are applied to the assessment, which take into account teacher expectations, area standards of living, local labor supply, the community's financial ability to pay, and concern for the common good. ^

Subject Area

Economics, Labor|Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations|Education, Technology of

Recommended Citation

Twaddle, Roy Royce, "Technology as public education: Determining just wages in a teacher labor contract" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations (Off Campus access). AAI9918181.