Stop whining about the teachers, start shouting about your government

Disclaimer: I am not a teacher and I am not married to a teacher. I do not have children currently and have absolutely no stake in the outcome of this labour dispute, financial or otherwise. Though I was a member of a CUPE union for several years, I am no longer in a unionized position. I am, however, the daughter of teachers (in Saskatchewan) and am incredibly passionate about this issue.

Photo: Brayden McCluskey

Photo: Brayden McCluskey

Like many people in BC, I am sick and tired of the teachers’ strike. I’m sick of the anxiety underlying every news story, especially as the first day of school has come and gone and public schools in BC remain closed. I am sick of parents needing to worry about how to pay for childcare/time taken off from work. I am sick of the idea that kids are missing out on their right to education. I am sick of the mudslinging, and the politicking, and the animosity, and the general bad pissy vibes hovering in the air, dividing friend groups and workplaces and social media and turning usually cordial conversations into rants.

But you know what I’m also really sick and tired of? Ignorant people blaming the province’s teachers. Whether or not  you agree with everything the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has asked for at the bargaining table, blaming teachers for labour disputes deliberately provoked by the BC government is completely misguided (note that when chief government negotiator Paul Straszak was asked in court whether the BC government’s objective prior to disputes in 2011 was to “increase the pressure on teachers to have them go out on a full-scale strike”, Straszak answered “Yes. I’ll say that’s correct.”, and no contradictory government testimony was offered in court).

I know a lot of people are anti-union by default, and I know from experience that it is difficult, if not impossible, to convince people who are anti-union to shift their position (though I personally think that’s nuts–if you enjoyed your Labour Day weekend, or even the fact that you get weekends at all, you have the labour movement to thank for it). I also acknowledge that it must be difficult and frustrating to miss work or have to pay for childcare or watch your child’s potential squandered because a union and the government can’t get it together.

But before you believe the government spin, or jump to anti-union rhetoric, or bad-mouth teachers in general because of that time you had a bad teacher in high school, there are some things you need to know about this dispute:

  1. The BC Liberals broke the law. Twice. In 2002, Bill 28 removed teachers’ right to negotiate class size and composition as part of the collective bargaining process. This legislation was not part of a negotiated new settlement with the BCTF. This was the government essentially ripping up a contract and deciding they would not honour parts of it anymore. After a lengthy court battle, the B.C. Supreme Court agreed that the BC government had acted in bad faith, and had violated teachers’ constitutional rights. Bill 28 was therefore unlawful and the BC government was given a year to rectify the situation. Their response was Bill 22, an essentially identical piece of legislation which was again struck down by the B.C Supreme Court. Instead of saying sorry, what the BC government is now asking the BCTF to do is simply ignore that this has happened, and sign a contract based on the other stuff (wages, benefits, etc.) while they launch an appeal. Let me put it to you this way: if YOU signed a contract that stipulated the conditions under which you’d work, and then one day your boss said, “Nah, I don’t wanna give you that stuff anymore”, would you want to keep working for them without a clear and binding commitment that the conditions and compensations you fought for would be honoured? Probably not.
  2. Teachers are highly-trained professionals with an incredibly precious resource in their care (the province’s children) and they should be paid that way. I am so bloody sick and tired of people saying, “If the teachers don’t like it, they can just quit!”. Would you really want that? If all of the teachers quit and went to work for, say, private schools, who would teach your kids? You? Do you have at least five years of post-secondary training, including training specific to education? Do you attend conventions and professional development sessions several times a year to keep up to date with advances in educational techniques and philosophies? Do you enjoy the idea of having everyone in the province know about it when you are having a dispute with your employer, or having to do without pay for weeks or months to defend the rights of other people’s children? No? Then button it. Quit your own job if you think it’s so easy to do.
  3. That said, it’s not all about the money. Yes, teachers should be paid fairly (it’s worth noting that their demands regarding wages basically keep up with inflation, and besides, the BCTF and government negotiators aren’t really that far apart on this issue), but class size and composition are a vital linchpin of this dispute and the government currently refuses to allow this issue to be a binding part of a new collective agreement. Class size and composition is all about the students. When classrooms contain 30+ students and unmanageable ratios of students with special learning or language needs, as they have since 2002, teachers simply can’t pay enough attention to all of their students. Struggling students fall through the cracks. Good students miss out on opportunities to be great students. And average students are unable to maximize their potential and discover where they truly shine. Teachers work with their students day in, day out, and have for years. Teachers know how many students of various needs they can reasonably teach. Any piece of legislation that thinks it knows better robs your children of their right to their teacher’s time and attention, and robs them of their potential for a better future.
  4. The BC government currently funds PRIVATE education to the tune of just under $300 million per year. That’s right. The same government that swears up and down that they cannot afford to abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling and reintroduce class size and composition to teachers’ collective agreements gives YOUR tax dollars to private schools so that their well-to-do students don’t have to share a classroom with your non-rich kids. Why on earth do private schools need to receive up to 50% of their operating budget from public funds? I have no idea though many are now saying the BC Liberals admire the U.S. “voucher system” and are hoping to bring the system to BC (which is frankly terrifying–there’s a reason the United States isn’t known for its great public schools). I’m not sure about this voucher system plan (I hope it’s just paranoia), but I do get the strong feeling that if Premier Christy Clark truly believed the public education system could adequately teach kids on the pittance her government wants to give it, she wouldn’t send her own son to a private school. It seems to me that the Premier believes what’s good enough for your kids is not good enough for hers. And is that attitude good enough for you?

[Update on point #4: It has been (likely rightly) suggested to me by readers that the point above may be misleading, especially the statistic that up to 50% of the a private school’s operating budget comes from public funds. This refers to up to 50% of what a public school in the same area would receive for their operating budget, according to government policy on Grants to Independent Schools. This is obviously a much smaller amount than I may seem to have been implying, and yes, I am aware that $300 million is actually not a large percentage of total education funding in the province. Even so, $300 million is still $300 million and I believe that any education funds that come from the public purse belong in public schools where EVERYONE is welcome, not only people who can either pay tuition or are part of a certain religion or speak a certain language. I apologize if the above point was misleading; that was not my intention. ]

In addition to the above points, I am also annoyed by the claim that teachers somehow “have it easy”. After working with educators (primarily public school educators) for most of my post-degree career, I feel there are some things you may not know about teachers that you should:

  • Most new BC teachers spend years on Teacher On Call (TOC) lists before landing longer-term or permanent contracts. They don’t leave their teacher education programs and start making some kind of mythical big bucks. They wake up every morning hoping they get a call telling them they have work that day. They won’t know what school or even necessarily what district that work will be in. Most of them have huge student loans to pay off and no steady source of income to pay them off with. In short, despite their education and qualifications, they are no better off than any other young person when they leave university, and are occasionally worse off since a lot of teacher education grads are older and may have young families already.
  • Teacher certification costs money. To enter the profession, new teachers must pay $245 to be certified. They must also pay a yearly fee of $80 in order to keep their certification valid (NB: these fees are entirely separate from the dues teachers pay to the BCTF). These fees must be paid whether they actually have a job or not. In the past, these fees went to the BC College of Teachers, but the BC government dissolved the BCCT a few years ago and brought in the Teacher Regulation Branch of the Ministry of Education to regulate and certify members of the profession. This means that these fees go to the government. Which means that these very same teachers who are on strike actually pay a yearly fee to their employer so they can continue to be teachers. Do you pay your employer for the privilege of being able to work for them?
  • Most teachers, especially elementary teachers, spend hundreds of dollars of their own money to make their classrooms inviting and engaging places for your children. At the end of June, many teachers decided to remove their personal belongings from their classrooms, including the classroom supplies they had paid for. The impact is startling.
  • Teachers aren’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve respect. Is every teacher a great one? Nope. But neither is every doctor, and doctors make a lot more money than teachers and have a lot more respect. Almost everyone I know has a tale of being misdiagnosed by a doctor, or of being shunted through the healthcare system like piece of trash, or being prescribed the wrong meds, but people seem to understand that the system is the problem, not the doctors themselves. You don’t see internet commentors virtually shouting about how doctors who point out flaws in the healthcare system should just quit already. Teachers have been working within a flawed system for years (in addition to taking years of net zero wage increases) which means that sometimes they aren’t good at their job, even when they really want to be. Besides, people in government aren’t always good at their jobs, but that didn’t stop Christy Clark from giving her top aides raises of up to 18% (these raises were pulled back one week later after backlash from the province, which just goes to show that well-directed outrage sometimes can make a difference).
  • Teachers worry about your children. They do. They are upset when bad things happen to their students, they wrack their brains trying to find ways to reach struggling or disengaged students, they are furious when the system fails a student. They hated having to short-change your kids for the past 12 years. They are trying to make it right and are going without their own wages to do so.

Again, I know I might not convince you, and if you still want to be angry at BC’s teachers it is your right. But I hope you are also angry at the BC government. Because you really, REALLY, should be–this is, after all, a government that was proven TWICE in court to have violated teachers’ constitutional rights. What makes you think they won’t come after yours someday?

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159 thoughts on “Stop whining about the teachers, start shouting about your government

  1. How can you get your letter into the Sun or Province for all to see? Do you think they would print it? Even getting it in the online version might help all those naysayers out there who insist that this conflict is all the teachers’ fault!

  2. I am so appreciative of you taking the time to put in writing, what so many teachers are feeling right now. I am extremely angry with this government – they say they want a negotiated settlement but only if teachers give up what they have already been legally awarded twice by the courts. Unfortunately, I don’t see a happy ending for anyone here. I’m guessing, but hope that I’m wrong, that the government will go back to the Essential Services Board some time during the third week of September and everyone will be back in school by the end of September. There will be no contract in place and the Liberals will probably continue to dock teachers 10% for refusing to attend staff meetings. Oh how I wish 2015 was an election year…

    • Unfortunately, it’s not. However 2013 was, and the Liberal Party was elected for its 4th straight mandate with a larger majority than it had before the election. The Liberals have always been pretty up front as to how they planned to deal with the Public Sector Unions, including the teachers, so a significant amount of the BC population must agree with them (or at least enough to return them to power). It’s also important to point out that the last NDP government (late 90s) did not have much luck dealing with the teachers either, nor did the Social Credit government before that (both parties were forced to use legislation to end the strike). Perhaps it is time for the BCTF to reexamine its approach to this issue?

      • Only 52% of eligible voters bothered to vote. The Liberals got in with about 25% of the votes. The people who did NOT vote should be deeply ashamed of themselves. If I knew that the Liberals got in again when EVERYONE voted, that would be DIFFERENT.

      • Teachers have been in labor disputes with our assorted gov’ts for many, many years and you’ve suggested the BCTF should change their battle strategy because of the number of times they’ve been historically legislated back to work? I think this pattern suggests it’s easy for ANY gov’t to cut education spending to suit a budget and dismiss our teachers & children (Google “school budget cuts” and flip a few pages for examples of how easy gov’t can cut). And the addition of class composition to our argument in BC makes this dangerously different than the previous battles. I say they keep fighting the good fight.

  3. I hope this goes viral, or gets picked up by a major media outlet. This is such an honest, clearly written article. Thank you for taking the time to write it! You have expressed the feelings of so many teachers in BC!!

      • Hi Frank, thank you for reading. I agree with you in part–the part where I have written from bias. Absolutely. I tried to link to sources for each point I was making as much as possible, but of course I can only look through my eyes and write from my own convictions (I mention this in the blog’s “About” page https://niftynotcool.com/about/).

        In this case, I obviously have very strong feelings about what is happening between the province’s teachers and the provincial government. I am worried about what the repercussions will be if the government is allowed to violate the constitutional rights of citizens and ignore the B.C. Supreme Court (the fact that they have done so is not bias, btw, it is fact. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin concluded as much and I hope you won’t accuse her of bias). If I did not feel so strongly about this issue, I wouldn’t have bothered writing this post. So yes, my beliefs, or my bias as it were, come into play.

        Where I disagree with you is that you have referred to this post as an “article”. It is a blog post. Calling it an “article” suggests that I am speaking on behalf of a publication, or that I receive some kind of compensation for writing or maintaining this blog, or from generating “hits” (I do not). I blog because I like it. My hunch is that this particular post struck a chord with people, which is why it was shared often enough to have reached you.

        I am a person sharing my opinion on my own personal blog, which I pay to maintain. You may disagree with me (and I suspect that you do), but surely you can’t find fault with a person writing from her own views on her own blog (especially when she has done so politely and with as many links to sources as she could).

  4. Thanks! That was truly a refreshing read I am a teacher and am very tired of being called names. It was nice to be defended for a change!

  5. Well I am sick of both sides. It’s like watching a childish game being played by the government and the teacher’s union. When it comes to the teacher’s side the real frustration I find is all the statements that they are in it for the children. If they think this juvenile exercise is somehow helpful they should come to some student’s and see the level of anxiety some are experiencing from being locked out of their schools and denied their education, All about the children, oh please.

    • Marianne, teachers have been bargaining for changes to the contract – to include what the government illegally removed – for over a year, WHILE THEY STAYED IN THE CLASSROOM! None of that bargaining worked with this crappy government! So what else would you have teachers do to reinstate the class size and composition agreement that the government illegally removed? That agreement is FOR THE CHILDREN!!! There’s no doubt about that! Unfortunately, removing themselves from the classroom is their own recourse.

    • I am an area counsellor, learning resource teacher, and librarian….we have waited over 12 years for the students to receive what teachers took zero salary increases for……so it is clearly not about the money….because we were willing to give up pay raises for years to get class sizes and composition to a place where all the kids could learn. Would you lose a month’s pay because it somehow makes you rich?? I don’t understand why parents are so worried about two weeks without students in school, when they have allowed my employer to take away over 12 years of contracted supports from the children most in need………every child’s learning suffers when an unsupported learning or emotionally disabled child is in the regular class. I know that because I am in those classes…few of the classes in the Vancouver Sun post about ‘your child’s class lasr year show as special needs, because the funding has been cut one third, two thirds, to learning assistance teachers who could identify those students…much less have time to actually implement the programs the testing shows they need. Are you really so certain that all teachers are lazy greedy whiners? Because my experience of teachers is that they are the employees who take time and money away from their own families to help other people’s children, in cross-country rip inning volunteering, clubs, and so many areas…….please. Talk to real teachers and ask what they care about, why they continue to work for change in The present system. please….if you don’t reconsider, you may have our present system forever…and it is not allowing the students, of any level of ability, to receive adequate support.

      • Thankyou Sair Killy. My son is on the Autism spectrum and I’m the first to admit it, he can be disruptive and demanding. He is a smart kid and has come a long way. That is squarely due to the dedication and care of his teachers and support worker. In the last few years his report card was all As and Bs. Unlike most parents who would celebrate, I am faced with the genuine fear that he may lose his support worker. Regardless that he wouldn’t achieve those grades without the support he receives. The SSW has had up to 4 kids piggy backed with my son some years. She works tirelessly.
        It is a basic human right that kids have access to education. My son shares that right with neurotypical kids but if he is not supported, his right to an education is not met.
        I should not have to apologize for or justify his presence in the classroom.
        I am so grateful to the teachers for sacrificing pay and holding the line on this issue. Like you said, 2 weeks missed is nothing like 12 years of underfunded, poorly supported classrooms.

    • I think it’s very short sighted for you to think that the teachers aren’t about the students — of course they are, otherwise they wouldn’t be fighting this battle. Why do you think teachers want to be teachers, anyways ?? The teachers wanted to be back in class a long time ago, but the government is playing hardball with an issue they can’t resolve or overturn, ie., twice being told by the BC Supreme Court that they (the GOVERMENT), were WRONG, and that you have to honor this decision (twice). The fact is, this work stoppage should never have happened in the first place, and we wouldn’t even be discussing it if it weren’t for the governments ineptitude and mismanagement. Christy Clark and her ilk should have their feet to the fire for this debacle, and blaming the teachers for this is totally a totally irresponsible line of thinking.

    • You should try the anxiety of living the most expensive city in Canada on a two-teacher salary. Something to remember, is that the union is paid for by the teachers to look out for the teacher’s interestest and nobody else’s. BUT as people who work closely for children, we have become their advocates because the parents don’t seem to be stepping up to the plate. This would be like the doctor’s fighting for the rights of their patients.

  6. I am sure most educators work very hard at their job, but name me a job that has unbelievable benefits, 3 months off a year. They knew what this job required BEFORE they applied.

    • Teachers have 3 months UNPAID “time off” a year, which when you factor in all the other unpaid time they put in (marking coaching, planning, counselling, calling parents, in meetings with parents, etc…) that doesn’t really amount to much. Most people get to leave their jobs at work, teachers rarely do. And if you are seriously asking about another job that gets that much ‘time off” lets look at our own government representatives, both federal and provincial…right now many of our Liberal MLA’s are taking some “time off” due to the teacher’s strike, and they get much more pay, benefits and if we look at our own premier, have a whole lot less education or common sense.

      • This is what gets non-teachers so heated. It is not “unpaid” time off – the annual salary includes those three months off, and the salary is appropriate for this. Many others do not leave their jobs at work – the majority of us also take work home, and have mobile devices from which we are expected to check and reply to emails. Many others bring project work, etc. home. Many of us work 10 plus hour days. Teachers would be far better off if they stop telling everyone else that they are paid so much less and work so much harder than the rest of us!

      • Unpaid time off?? Unpaid hours?? Teacher salaries are afforded towards this time off. Your wages can be paid during this time off if you chose to. The average teacher works 175 days in a year. Even if they worked 10 hr days for those 175 days, they are still working 250 hours less (32 regular work days) less then the average worker. That’s at 10hr work days, everyday. If your yearly salary was $63,000 you would make $390 a day. How can you tell me that is underpaid? Just because Alberta pays more? they have class sizes up to 50 kids. I’m so tired of this self-entitlement of teachers, if you are not happy with the way the system is, then quit your job. There is a massive, MASSIVE surplus of teachers that would happily take your place.

      • I favour no side in this dispute. However, that said, the problem that teachers have is they (apparently) cannot see beyond the four-walls of a classroom to the real world of “working class people”, many of whom put in regular 10-hour days, work two jobs to make ends meet, have limited benefits, take work home, and do not get 3 months off a year … never mind $3,000 a year for [expletive deleted] massages …

    • Chris, I think that you need to try this job before you put down the stresses of being a teacher. And unbelievable benefits? I guess you think that getting a refund of $7 for every physio visit (costing at least $60 per shot) is unbelievable? I guess it IS hard to believe that given the amount of money that teachers PAY for their benefits, taken off their pay, would only give them that much reimbursement! As for months off work – where did you get the ‘3 months’? By the time the school year ends, teachers are well-deserving of their summers (without pay) rests! I say it again: If you think that the job is so easy, why don’t you try it?

      • Ann-Marie, you made very good points. I recently retired from teaching on the east coast. I was paid for 195 teaching days in my province and not paid for holidays or summer break. My husband worked for a tire manufacturer. Each summer my vacation started the 28th or 30th of June. We resumed classes on the 2nd or 3rd of September, before Labour Day. My husband started his vacation on June 30th and he was off for 8 weeks with paid vacation. His vacation pay was based on a 4% of his gross salary each year. The pay I got per day during the 195 teaching days in my province, were spread over 12 months so I got a cheque in the summer but not for any work I had not performed and it was not a percentage of my pay. My husband actually had a longer break than I did. I had to stay usually 3 days after school ended into July (my first week of unpaid leave) to straighten up my room, remove everything from bookshelves and walls so the summer cleaners could clean. Then on August 20th of each year, I returned for about 4 hours each day to set my classroom back to rights. So Chris, you wanted to know who else gets time off like teachers? My hubby who built tires got 8 weeks paid leave and if you take off the 3 days in July I had to stay to finish up the year and the 4-5 days the end of August I went in to set up, he actually had one more week off than i did each year. I’m sure other teachers across Canada can tell you the same. So if you want 2 months off in the summer, Chris don’t be a teacher, go work for a tire manufacturer (which was not unionized by the way) as they got 8 weeks vacation and I only had 7 !!

      • So, if a teacher is paid 70k with 2 months off unpaid as you say, that would be the equivalent of a 84k normal job right? Asking if someone if they would do the job is a ridiculous argument, whether a random internet person would do the job or not proves nothing about the job itself. We do know, however, there are quite a number of unemployed teachers, so apparently there are lots of people willing to do the job…

      • As has already been pointed out, teaching is a salaried position. You are paid a set amount for an entire year of employment, how it is divided up is irrelivent (over 10 months, 12 months, etc). The independent schools that I have taught for over the past 20+ years have chosen to divide up our salaries over a 12 month period, meaning we are paid over the Summer. We are not paid more that you, it is simply divided differently. Many school districts in BC offer programs to their teachers that allow them to be paid over 12 months by holding back (or advancing) a set amount that is then paid over the summer. To say that you are not paid over the summer is misleading.

        As for the number of days we work, yes it comes out to about 9 months of the year, after you account for the two months at summer, two weeks at Christmas and a week (or sometimes two) for Spring Break and a number of stat holidays. Do I work long days when I am teaching? Yes, I do. Between teaching, marking, lesson planning, extra rehearsals (or practices), staff meetings, Parent/Teacher nights, weekend trips, professional development activities, etc, the days can be quite long. However, if I was to compare the number of hours I work against someone who held a “regular” 9 to 5 job with two weeks (three if they are lucky) every year, I doubt there would be much difference.

        Perspective is everything…

    • I’d really like to see you become a teacher if you think that it’s so great. It’s a hard job and I appreciate coming into class knowing that that teacher has my learning as their top priority. If I ever needed help, they would be willing to tutor me for FREE on their own damn time. So instead of working 6-8 hours like a normal person, they are up late at night marking and creating new assignments and tests. So next time you try to say ‘they knew what they were getting into’ think. They knew they wanted to TEACH the new generations, but how can they do that with 30+ students, many with special learning needs? Did you get where you are now without an education? No.

      Yours truly, a child stuck in between this labour dispute.

      • Well done Ashley. Its great to see a generation of kids is sticking up for their rights too. This really is a battle that you are a part of and will affect you and your future families down the road. Glad to see young people voicing their opinions.

      • I do believe that teaching is a tough job, but many other jobs require that people work much longer days too. Many people are also up late at night doing work, and doing work that has a direct impact on improving society. I hope that you get to return to school very soon. Teachers are special, and many do an amazing job, however, it does their profession a disservice to keep comparing the work that they do to the work of others.

    • Chris, many teachers, over the school year, average 11 hours a day on their job, including the after-hours schoolwork (planning, assessment/evaluation,reporting, meetings, etc.), which amounts to about the same as working 52 weeks a year, on an 8 hr./day schedule! That happens to equate to a full year of work (52 weeks = 12 months)! So, what’s this rant about teachers get a whole 3 months off a year? Most have already put in a year’s worth of work…some, more!! They Don’t most people who work on an 8 hr./day calendar–who, by-the-way, if they do work overtime, often get compensated (e.g., “time-and-a-half”‘, or “double time”–get two, to five, weeks, paid holiday a year (depending on years put in)? Chris, I think you should know what you are talking about, before you state incorrect, or misleading, comments.

      • I completely support the teachers. But I agree with someone up thread. Many people work hard jobs, long hours, have less or more time off. It is not worth comparing one profession to another. I’m a chef. I work crazy hours in a stressful environment, often for 12 hours straight. No time to pee and it’s so hot it sweats out of me! Seriously!
        The thing is, I leave you with my kids for 6 hours of every day. My kids! My life! I trust you to guide and educate them. AND YOU DELIVER!!! You should not even have to justify your hours, your holidays, your salary. Or compare it. What you do is important for society, for our future. It makes me angry when people say it’s an easy job. It might come easy to some and be a challenge to others. It’s an IMPORTANT job. Thankyou for doing it.

      • Wow, while I may work the occasional 11 hour day (or longer), I would be hard pressed to say that I AVERAGED 11 hours a day. I have been teaching for 23 years now and I think I’m pretty good at it (though others may disagree), however I also know many educators that are truly world class, and I’m pretty sure that even they don’t average 11 hours a day. If you know some teachers that are actually averaging 11 hours a day, you may wish to suggest to the that they undertake some additional course work in efficiency and time management.

      • By the time you work out 2 months off for summer, 2 weeks spring break, 2 weeks christmas, 15 sick days and 10 prod days, a teacher works 175days a year. If you worked 11hours everyday for those days you would work 1925 hours. That would put you at 4 weeks vacation a year if you worked a typical job (2080 hrs is normal work year) that would be starting at 7:30 and working until 7 at night, with one 1/2hr unpaid lunch break in the regular world. I doubt you are doing those hours everyday

    • I would like to challenge you statement “They knew what this job required BEFORE they applied” That it so not true. Things have changed so much over the past few years. Make sure you know you know the facts before you blither on with blanket statements

    • Chris, I became a teacher over twenty years ago. Back then, special needs students were well supported, we had good resources, there was money for textbooks and classroom supplies, and plenty of stimulating in-service opportunities after class. Now all those things are gone, and my dental plan is still assuming dental costs are what they were 15 years ago. My wage has not keep up with inflation. Even though I now have all these years of experience and can handle anything thrown my way, my job is way, WAY harder (and sadder) than it was twenty years ago. It is nothing like it was when I was on my practicum or during my first years as a teacher. Most of my colleagues are in the same boat. So please explain to me how it is that we knew what this job required before we applied!

    • Chris,
      Policemen and firemen to name just two professions that have great benefits and work only 4 on and 4 off ( this equates to 182 days off a year…just “slightly” more than the holidays earned by teachers.)

      • Toby, let me clear up the numbers for you. Police do work 4 on 4 off, but those 4 on shift are about 12 hour shifts. That means they work 48 hours in a 8 day week. That amounts to 2,136 hours worked in a year. If you divide that by an 8 hour day that would equal 267 working day which leaves 89 days off. That is a far cry from the misrepresentation of 182 that you said

    • Ummm… I work all summer so yes, I do have a Christmas break and a Spring Break which I (and the kids!) need, but I do work all summer. So I’m not really sure what your point is. Also, do you not think that workers should have a say in their working conditions? I find that kind of strange… Kind of like slavery…

  7. Do you have at least five years of post-secondary training, including training specific to education? Do you attend conventions and professional development sessions several times a year to keep up to date with advances in educational techniques and philosophies?

    To the above, yes, and I suspect there are many others like me. I have six plus years of university including a graduate degree, and I am expected to keep up with my professional development, and I volunteer for committees outside of work, and when I attend additional training, like teachers, I still have my job to do in the evening so work doesn’t fall behind.

    As I said in an earlier post, teachers are doing themselves a disservice by continually saying how much harder they work than everyone else.

    • I agree with you here, whole hardheartedly.

      I have a lot of teachers in my family and I support them 100%, I think the government is making a fool out of itself, and out of our province BUT the teachers need to stop the diatribe of working so much harder then the rest of us, and getting paid for ‘only ten months of the year’. I understand that many districts only pay their teachers for 10 months, not 12, but that some allow teachers to have the salary split over 12 months – no matter the language, the fact remains that the public is tired of hearing about it.

      All that said, I think they are right to ask for a proper salary adjustment to account for inflation as applicable just like the rest of us.

      • I do believe that teachers are what inspire and grow our children. I do believe that the government is in the wrong on most cases during this horrible time for students. I also think some of the topics listed as BCTF demands are a bit ridiculous. As I don’t believe that all teachers are the same. As such, I don’t believe they should all warrant a pay raise just because of the cost of living. In the private sector, we don’t always get an annual pay raise for the cost of living. Some companies can’t afford to give annual pay raise. Some companies only give annual pay raises to top performers. And we definitely don’t get 12 weeks off a year. As Bobbie states, I’m constantly on my mobile, answering emails, updating my skills and planning for when I’m in the office again. I work some days for 12 + hours a day. I honestly think that BCTF should stop talking about that, as I’m pretty sure the general public (non- teachers) would not side and would not feel bad for you because of that.

        I too, am a graduate of a post-secondary and a technical school and in order to keep my job, I too have to upgrade my skills. After work I am constantly studying, or taking courses to help better myself for my customers or internal staff, so that I can the most prepared for what comes at me in the future. But, much like Bobbie states, work doesn’t stop for me as well. I chose my profession and all of the ups and downs. I don’t get to cry wolf each time I don’t get what i want. I do have the choice to leave and to find a new job. Have done that 3 times in my career.

        I believe that your statement of BC Private school funding is a bit skewed…I am a student from a catholic school system and don’t recall me ever being mistaken as a “well-to-do” student. My parents wanted the best for me because of a learning disability I had. But my parents struggled to keep my sister and I in those schools. All the while they were paying for us to go to private school, they never received a cut back from the government because of that. They paid they’re taxes in Richmond for the schools that we never went to. And now that I’m a profession and own my own place, I’m paying for a school system that I don’t have any children in the system yet. My point here is that people are allowed to have their own opinion about the matter because whether we have kids in a private school or don’t have kids, we all are paying for the schools through taxes. So we should be able to all have a say in it, shouldnt we?

      • I think anyone that says that teachers should stop talking about how they work harder then everyone else, should go back and actually listen to what those teachers are saying. I guarantee you they are trying defend why they deserve the wages they are asking for (hours worked, education level, etc…) and are not saying anything about working harder than anyone else.
        I know many teachers with 7 or 8 years of schooling, that’s as much as some doctors, more than most lawyers, MBAs, accountants, tradesmen yet they have a wage scale that tops out around $80k. Doctors deal with lives and health so I’m not questioning their wages but how can a teacher be thought any less of then the other jobs I listed. Don’t give me any market demand – capitalism – antisocialism garbage excuses.. teachers deal with the most valuable commodity there is …. the education of the future doctors, lawyers, accountants, tradesmen, etc…
        Fund the education system properly and most of the other social problems that people don’t want the government spending money on will disappeare as a result.

  8. Watched a high school football game this past Friday. It struck me as ironic in that it is such an honest place, that football field. Two teams competing within the rules and measuring themselves against one another as individuals and a team. Brains, effort and teamwork won-out. Merit, on a level playing field won. One of the last, best, true places in our society is such a contest, whatever the sport.

    In British Columbia, our BC Liberal Government could never abide by such a scenario. They would have insisted on rules that predetermined the outcome of the game. They would have locked-up the referee’s decision making by ignoring it and appealing their rulings. They would have rigged the PA announcer to skew all commentary in their favor and made the deeds of the opponent moot through filtering/biased editorial. They would have locked-out the opposing team from its practice field and paid its parents to stay away. Finally, it would have attempted to starve its opponent into submitting to the predetermined outcome by withholding the means to access food and shelter, all the while berating them for holding up the game. As the BC Liberal opponent struggled valiantly on the field of play, the BC Liberal Head Coach and her assistants would gloat, taunt and cry foul at every turn. They would reference rules that they made-up and minimize at every turn the calls for fair play, by the rules, for the kids.

    I think something neat may be happening in this scenario. You see, the opponent of the BC Liberals kept playing hard and honest, they stuck together and did not falter. Slowly, and with ever gathering power, the onlooking crowd, witnessing this farce, began to take note and make their voices heard. The PA announcer was drowned-out and his commentary ridiculed. The referee’s found courage from the crowd’s voice and inspiration from the BC Liberal opponent’s courage, conviction and integrity. Calls were made for an honest head referee to officiate the game, to make calls that both teams had to live by. The BC Liberal squad refused this, saying their “fixed process” and “predetermined outcome were too important to be left to referees. At this point, the crowd too felt humiliated and marginalized. They now saw this as a fraud being perpetrated by the BC Liberal Coach and her staff. They decided to intervene on behalf of the BC Liberal opponent, they took to the field and would not let the game continue, demanding with one voice that it would be shut down until the rules were obeyed, the game officiated fairly, and the outcome respected on merit and reason. Generally, they Struck for honesty, process and to ensure that future games would always be played on a level playing field, for their Sons and Daughters, Brothers and Sisters, were next on the BC Liberal schedule…

  9. The Liberals have been starving the education system since 2001 and with each passing year they turn the screws tighter and tighter. The union is the one main stumbling block to eventually undermine our public system and turn it into a private contractors profit making dream. Ideology is running our current government and they are killing pretty much anything good that is left in BC. Why would anyone vote for a group of thugs that HATE what government provides?

    Thanks for your post niftynotcool.

    • Beats me, but they’ve been doing it pretty steadily for the last 12+ years. So I guess there’s a lot of people out there that don’t share your view. That’s democracy. BTW – The NDP government in the late 90s was forced to legislate the teachers back to work because they couldn’t come to an agreement with them either. Guess the BCTF doesn’t play well in the sandbox with anybody.

      • G-Dragon … EXACTLY. Good point. The BCTF interest is self-interest. The bottom line is that it is “us”, the working class taxpayers, who have to foot the bill to satisfy union demands. It’s not the BC Liberals, the NDP or whichever party is in power. It’s you and me that have to cough up for salaries and perks and everything else they feel they’re entitled to.

  10. Your column is right on the mark and Rod’s analogy to the football game in brilliant. As a concerned grandmother who wants the best for her grandkids education I applaud you both. I was angry at the government stance before, but when Christy Clarke stood up before us and LIED (I refuse to be nice and say she misspoke)to the public about teacher demands I became enraged. YOU MADE GRANNY ANGRY CHRISTY. Did your parents not advice you not to get Granny mad? I want the children in school NOW! I don’t want to wait till my great grandson is ready to enter school before this is solved to the benifit of our children.

  11. A great article and completely salient points. My own comment to add is that private schools are subsidized by the province only as far as estimated amounts per kid would be if they had used public schools. That is, the amount subsidized is supposed to be equivalent to the public school amounts. Private schools , especially small ones, are as budget conscious as any small business is and usually shoestring year by year.
    Teachers shape and enable the growth of our children into the leaders, movers and shakers of tomorrow. If we fail to have a well-paid, well-supported educational system, our country will be worse off that it already is. Class composition is an essential clause in order for classes to be efficient and balanced. My only complaint is that the BCTF should have raised this issue back when the first BC Supreme judgement was made, not over a decade later!
    My final comment is that , although I agree that the teachers need to get the terms that make sense, the school system should be able to fire teachers that are not good for the students. There is no sane way that a poor teacher should be able to keep their job, based merely on seniority or union ‘Sword of Damocles’ strength. We need GOOD teachers for our children!

  12. Listening and reading peoples take on the Teachers’ Strike I feel too many are in ignorance of the issue of class size and composition so I tried to make an analogy. It’s pretty simple I admit. Maybe even insulting but….
    And long….. I finished off with a clear summary of the real legal trials.
    PS. I’m a retired teacher. Last class had 6 special needs students with an aide in am. Those students and aide would attend LAC (Learning Assistance Center) in am. My aide repeatedly told me how difficult it was to accomplish much during those sessions. Yet in pm I had those 6 plus 23 others.
    Okay.
    Let’s pretend that you work and belong to a union. Your employer tells you have to supervise any and all workers that he sends your way (that’s class size). Also, some of these workers don’t speak your language group A, some can’t keep their hands to themselves group B, some don’t have a clue what’s going on group C, some are just plain bored with it all group D and some, group E, are trying to figure it out diligently but get lost in thought cause YOU’RE too busy trying to communicate with group A(ESL students), trying to make sure everyone gets along and no one gets hurt group B(Spec Needs R Behavioral), trying to make your instructions clear for all to understand even group C(Spec Needs designations A-Q see link for list of all http://www.vsb.bc.ca/ministry-designations ) trying to keep the attention and interaction of the gifted Spec Needs P) and trying to interact with those who just want to learn group E(Johnny, Sue, and your kids). We won’t mention overcrowding, lack of resources and any additional help. Okay, now you go on strike cause you don’t think that those workers under your supervision are getting a good opportunity to learn the business. But your employer tells you can’t do that increases the factors and decreases any and all resources that he was to provide so that you have to do more with less. Your union tells you that this is how it is all over the land and meanwhile the employer won’t send his staff to learn the business here…. So your union takes your employer to court and the Highest Court agrees that No One is benefiting from your employers standards of instruction. The Supreme Court orders your employer to comply and restore class size and composition bargaining. Your employers doesn’t comply just writes new rules which are the same as before. So your union says strike and you do! But your employer LOCKS OUT everyone! And refuses to comply and blames you for wanting what the Supreme Court says is you are entitled to. Your employer tells you that they will let you back to your old job if you agree that the way that your employer wants class size and composition is good enough setting the precedent (clause E80) . Also the employer wants you to agree that when their appeal of the Supreme Court Ruling comes in “if the employer doesn’t win – you won’t argue anymore” (E81) So you are still on strike and your employer still has you LOCKED OUT. I sure hope that you can understand this version, I’ve tried to make it as simple as possible.

    For those who want to see the legal version, here it is.
    1. “In 2002 the government tore up contracts with teachers and nurses, and I think one other union.”

    “During an emergency session of the B.C. Legislature on January 27, the Liberals used their 77-2 majority to ram through three controversial pieces of legislation: Bills 27, 28 and 29.

    […]

    Bill 27 imposes a settlement on B.C.’s 45,000 teachers – who have been deadlocked in negotiations with school boards across the province for nearly a year. The final deal is actually worse than the last offer tabled by the school boards.

    Bill 28 makes it unlawful for teachers to negotiate for things like class size and staffing ratios. It also tears up sections of existing agreements that prohibit contacting-out in areas like school maintenance and cafeteria food service.

    Bill 29 effectively guts collective agreements in both health care and social services. With the exception of nurses and other health “professionals,” this bill allows the government to contract-out any health care job to the private sector. On the social services side, workers have lost contract language covering things like employment security, wage parity and severance.”

    2. “The nurses took the government to court and lost the first two times, but in the Supreme Court of Canada case it came out, in cabinet notes, that the government basically figured that they could not negotiate the changes they wanted so the passed legislation instead. That was found to be illegal and the nurses got $85 million”

    “Several of the unions affected by Bill 29 launched a Charter
    challenge, but lost before the B.C. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. Both courts relied on the Supreme Court of Canada’s prevailing caselaw to find that no associational rights had been violated.

    […]

    The Court found the Charter provides a broad protection for the right tocollectively bargain. Section 2(d) guarantees that workers possess the rights to band together, to collectively present demands to their employers and to engage in dialogue with them to achieve their work-related goals.

    […]

    “And second, governments must not enact legislation that “substantially interferes” with the ability of a trade union to collectively bargain over workplace issues.

    […]

    Substantial interference” is a high bar for unions to establish.

    […]

    The Court ruled that the B.C. government failed to prove the necessary justification for the breach. It stated: ‘The records disclose no consideration by the government of whether it could reach its goal by less intrusive measures, and virtually no consultation with the unions … (Bill 29) was adopted with full knowledge that the unions were strongly opposed to many of its provisions, and without consideration of alternative ways to achieve the government’s objectives.’”

    and:

    “A coalition of of health care unions has won an $85 million victory in a six-year-old dispute with the provincial government over the B.C. Liberal’s controversial Bill 29”

    3. “Armed with that information the teachers took the government to court over the class size and composition (what was removed from their contract) and won.

    “It took a decade to get through the courts, but a decision finally said that the BC Liberal government acted illegally when it took away the right for teachers to bargain important learning and working conditions.”

    4. ” Instead of appealing the BC Liberals drafted new legislation and, again according to cabinet records, were trying to push the teachers into a strike. The court found that the government, again, bargained in bad faith and ordered the government to pay a $2 million fine and the BCTF court costs.”

    “This original court case was not appealed, which means the government accepted its wrong-doing and accepted class size and composition as working conditions to be negotiated with the union.

    The government was given a year to fashion a
    remedy, but failed to do so successfully and Justice Griffin
    subsequently ruled that it had negotiated in bad faith, that the remedy was insufficient, and that it had to pay the union $2 million in fines. This is the judgement which the government is now appealing and which will be heard in mid-October 2014.”

    5. “The government still refuses to negotiate on class size and composition, despite not appelaing the ruling that found that they have to. The government wants a clause put into the contract that basically says if the court finds against them that they cannot be held to that ruling.”

    “The BCTF’s Glen Hansman says the E80 clause would put language in the contract giving the province an escape clause for any future class size and composition court decision.”

    (That clause, E80, is the current hold up in the negotiations apparently)

  13. Reblogged this on Aim High Salmon Arm and commented:
    Check this post out “But you know what I’m also really sick and tired of? Ignorant people blaming the province’s teachers. Whether or not you agree with everything the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has asked for at the bargaining table, blaming teachers for labour disputes deliberately provoked by the BC government is completely misguided (note that when chief government negotiator Paul Straszak was asked in court whether the BC government’s objective prior to disputes in 2011 was to “increase the pressure on teachers to have them go out on a full-scale strike”, Straszak answered “Yes. I’ll say that’s correct.”, and no contradictory government testimony was offered in court)”

  14. this is of course a very heated and complicated issue and i appreciate articles like this to help me become more educated with what is really going on. but having said that, i do believe you are adding to the ‘ignorance’ by not being properly educated on the whole private school issue. you boldly state that private schools receive just under $300 million in funding. this is a big number indeed but you left out the part that this is only 5.5% of the education budget. that puts this number into better perspective. that 5.5% is not going to solve the funding issues with the public school system (and yes, there are serious issues with funding to public schools) but 5.5% is hardly the privatization of schools. furthermore, that 5.5% represents 12% of the kids in K-12. if those 12% were in the public school system, they would cost the the system much much more than the 5.5% that they do. it is also important to keep in mind that those kids have parents who pay just as much tax as the parents of kids in public school. why should the taxes of those parents not go towards the education of their kids? and lastly, it is also very very important to understand that the majority of private schools are not elite schools! the majority of private schools are small, religious schools that have low tuition (not the $18-20,000 of the elite schools) to supplement the difference because they do not receive full funding from the government. a lot of those schools would also still take families that can not afford the tuition. people are upset that christy clarke’s son goes to an elite private school ~ be upset that our premier doesn’t support public school by sending her son there, but don’t be upset about the 5.5% of the education budget that goes towards the education of kids whose parents pay taxes just the same as anyone else.

    • Elsa…that very $300 Million would more than cover all the costs the BCTF is currently pushing for, no matter what portion of the education budget it amounts to. I have to ask..why do private schools get to eat at the public trough? They can turn away any student who doesn’t meet their criteria (public schools take all comers), and get to charge huge tuition fees as well. Sending your child to private school. is a choice, not a necessity.

      • Private schools do not eat at the public trough. They receive no funding which is why the per student cost at some schools can start close to $20,000 per year. Independent schools CAN receive up to (but not necessarily) 50 percent of the per-student educational cost. This excludes all operational costs for buying land, building the school, heating, maintenance, etc. 300 million to these schools is a pittance of what it would cost to have these kids back in the public system. If you think the system is currently stressed, take away that funding (which you should also remember goes to people who are currently paying the same taxes as anyone else). Yes, these schools are choices and these families accept that there is a cost to this choice. But you would be very wrong to assume that all these kids all come from wealthy families. I know many many families who are stretched very thin to afford to send their kids to an independent school and could simply not do this if the government funding was done away with.

      • I agree with almost all of the points but strongly disagree with the one about private schools. I don’t see anything wrong with the government subsidizing private school, we pay school taxes, we pay extra for the choice of sending our kids to a school that teaches them values we believe in and we certainly don’t ask the government to provide for free education as the public school. Although it should be a right as parents to choose who and how our children are educated most parents of private school children are making the sacrifice and pay the extra money. Yes, it’s our choice but in an already overcrowded school, we should be thankful that we have private schools that in a small way lessen the number of children in public schools. The way I see it, sending our kids to private schools save the government money! I don’t understand why that was an issues in this article…. (4). At this point we should talk less about how difficult the job of a teacher is and more about the real issues…. all jobs are difficult, we shouldn’t put down any person’s job to glorify another, we shouldn’t compare pay with other provinces because every single pay in BC is in the same boat, well below most other provinces.

  15. As a parent who has a son with special needs now waiting to enter grade 12, your sentence ” watch your child’s potential squandered because a union and the government can’t get it together.” hit me where it hurt, deeply. Since my son entered school there have been nothing but cuts and usually the districts have to try to cut supports for special needs first. Creative programs that have been proven to help children with special learning needs can’t get the funding they need. The government has downloaded supposed therapeutic supports for districts to manage but without the funding needed for students to get one-on-one supports. There is something called “consultation” and the teachers are expected to act as therapists to carry out these suggestions (aside from IEP’s) along with everything else they have to do. Plus, this leaves out the child’s out-of-school life and leaves out the parent.That is just one concern.
    Even if we have had problems with a couple of teachers and the union that is normal and I believe we could have some flexibility worked out between parents, students and the union regarding class composition and caps, in this fight for our students, funding and union rights, I am fully onside of the union.
    A lot of parents who have children with special needs have been fighting this government for decades now. We are not surprised even if parents of so-called regular kids are. So when I read “watch your child’s potential squandered” it hurts deeply because it is a life-time fight t o ensure that does not occur and it is not just the possible inconvenience of putting off going to University for a year. Many have been fighting this for 12 years but few others have paid attention and/or cared. however, I also know it isn’t “because a union and the government can’t get it together.”, it is completely and totally due to the actions and agenda of the BC Liberals in general and Christy Clark in particular.

    • As a parent who has a son with special needs now waiting to enter grade 12, your sentence ” watch your child’s potential squandered because a union and the government can’t get it together.” hurt, deeply. Since my son entered school there have been nothing but cuts and usually the districts try to cut supports for special needs first. Creative programs that have been proven to help children with special learning needs can’t get the funding they need. The government has downloaded supposed therapeutic supports for districts to manage but without the funding needed for students to get one-on-one supports. Instead there is something called “consultation” and the teachers are expected to act as therapists to carry out these suggestions (aside from IEP’s) along with everything else they have to do. This is not workable because it negates therapeutic needs in the child’s out-of-school life and leaves out the parent. Unless people have money, they have no options. That is just one concern.
      Even if over the years we have had problems with a couple of teachers and the union that is normal. Mostly my son has had great teachers and supports in spite of the province. As well, many parents and children with special needs are concerned and fearful about very real repercussions around CAPS but I truly believe we could have some flexibility worked out between parents, students and the union regarding class composition and caps later on, once the government accepts it is not above the law. In this fight right now for our students, public education funding, teacher and union rights, I am fully onside of the union. The BCTF has proved time and time again it cares and understands.
      More people need to remember that a lot of parents who have children with special needs have been fighting this government for decades now. We are not surprised at this latest turn of events even if parents of so-called regular kids are. So when I read “watch your child’s potential squandered” it hurts deeply because it is truth. Fighting to ensure he can live up to his gifts in spite of disabilities is a life-time fight. For us it not just the possible inconvenience of putting off going to University for a year. Many have been fighting this for 12 years but few others have paid attention and/or cared, at least now more are paying attention. That said however, I also know it isn’t “because a union and the government can’t get it together.”, and whoever thinks that has not been paying attention. We are at this crises in public education here completely and totally because of the actions and agenda of the BC Liberals in general and Christy Clark in particular.

  16. Hi everyone–thank you so much for your comments, and for your civil and mature debate. I just wanted to note that I made an update to my point about private schools after suggestions that the way I framed the numbers may have been misleading. I have hopefully adequately clarified my point and my position in the post. – Lauren

  17. Just a point that I can’t quite seem to follow the logic of.
    The teachers union is stating the following “facts” regarding the $40/day payments being made to parents of students affected by the strike:
    “The governement deemed students older than 13 ineligible for the payments because the province considers they are more able to access online or other educational resources and do not need as much supervision as younger children.

    The government estimated that the program will cost the government about $12 million a day, which it said was roughly the same amount of money it costs to run the school system.

    B.C.’s 41,000 teachers have been on a full strike since June 17. The government also imposed a lockout during a partial strike by teachers earlier in June. The main issues in the contract dispute include wages, class sizes and composition.”

    Now here’s the part I don’t get. Just crunching the numbers:
    $12,000,000 / $40 = 300,000 kids under 13.
    Assuming grade 1 to 8 are under 13, while grade 9 to 12 are over 13
    Also assuming each grade has roughly the same number of kids
    So 2/3 of kids = 300,000, then we have a total of 450,000 kids
    The article say there are 41,000 teachers, this works out to 11 kids/teacher.
    Something is not working out. Anyone able to shed some light on this?

    • You forgot to subtract the high school teachers from the 41, 000 and many districts have non-enrolling teachers. These are special needs teachers, teacher librarians and learning assistant teachers.Though there are not enough of them. As well, districts that need them have ESL specialists, and other specialists who are not in charge of regular classes but work with students and with classroom teachers and other support staff.
      You can thank a teacher for helping you with some of the math and understanding the situation a bit better!

  18. Sorry, but I take issue with item #4. Not all private schools are funded so “…well-to-do students don’t have to share a classroom with your non-rich kids.” You ask, “Why on earth do private schools need to receive up to 50% of their operating budget from public funds?” Real world example: We pay property taxes just like everyone else whilst sending our child to private school for learning disabled children (going on six years now) because the public system failed him. If his private school wasn’t at least partially funded, we’d be in even deeper debt that we already are. As it stands now, we spend over $23k per year WITH funding. The actual cost would be closer to an annual $35k without funding. We’re paying each year more than it cost my husband and I to go to graduate school for a combined two years of tuition! As far as I’m concerned, both the BCTF and the government are at fault for failing everyone’s kids.

    • I’m with you. Our son was broken by the public school system and we are using retirement funds to send him to private school. My question is why don’t my taxes go to the school of my choice? Either private or public? My son gets 50% of the funding that other school children get. We are not being subsidized, we are subsidizing public school. You’re welcome.

  19. its fine to state you are not a teacher but then you stumble along and buy into every single sliver of the teachers position. BofEd is now a six year program?
    Teachers should not be allowed to strike because a strike is an ancient middle age tactic that is not acceptable in this day and age. If the teachers are absolutely correct then its simple – get together and run for office then you can be the government as well and thus all your demands would be granted. The arguments for the teachers would be so overwhelming o pposition would not stand a chance. Why has this not happened?
    The facts are this is a complex situation that has many facets and not all are precisely as stated by teachers. Teaching is a good profession with good benefits and a good schedule. Its a difficult job to do well. Unions have protected the underperformers so the standards are low. Good teachers are worth evry penny paid and quite frankly a lot more but there are teachers now that are grossly overpaid because they are not very good. Teachers are not all inspirational models The union eliminates any type of fair performance measure yet evrey single profession has standards and on going assessements. We have created a system ran by teachers supervised by teachers and mainly to benefit teachers. The lost area is the students. Canada has not been at the top of any academic measure in many many years. Our students perform poorly in many areas. We are turning kids out of high school that have little skills and teachers focus almost exclusively on college entrance. The less than 5 percent spent on private schools should be redirected but is frankly insignificant.
    The students are not served well by this strike. That’s the only important issue. Get the schools back on track and impose a settlement. create a panel that includes some business folks as we pay for all the programs and lets just get it done without all the wailing.

    • Sorry – but a number of your facts are completely incorrect. There were no strikes in the Middle Ages (just peasant revolts and the Black Death). Administrators are responsible for evaluating and disciplining teachers – the union provides representation (kind of like the judicial system), but it is the administrator’s job (and trust me, they are well paid) to deal with underperformance. Since when do ‘business folks’ pay for all the programs? To whom are you referring?

  20. Well-written article, and some very valid points. As much as the government may be to blame, the BCTF and teachers are taking an unfair beating in public opinion.

    Having said that, though, some of the BCTF’s asks just don’t sit right with me. I work in the private sector, in a non-unionized job, but have several educators in my immediate family so I’ll try and be unbiased.

    A demand for guaranteed raises is simply outrageous, in my opinion. Raises should be earned by doing one’s job well, not simply by showing up to work every day. In the companies I have worked for in my career, not everyone gets a salary increase every year, and that is based purely on performance. Not even cost-of-living adjustments. Why can’t teachers have the same system? And the notion of seniority is an absolute joke. Why should any person have a leg up on someone potentially more qualified simply because they have been around longer? I have seen far too many teachers that view their jobs as no more than a way to make ends meet. They can’t be bothered to develop themselves professionally, because there is no incentive to do so – they don’t get fired, they continue to have jobs because they’ve been around long enough, and they get unmerited pay increases year after year (I understand this is not happening now, but if the BCTF gets its way, it will).

    Truthfully I blame both the government and the BCTF.

    • How do you judge a teacher’s performance? Every class, every year, is a different composition of kids and resources. By kids’ marks? That’s not fair for teachers that happen to get a group of struggling students. By how much a teacher is liked? Sorry but the football coach would likely always rate higher than the math teacher, regardless of skills and duties. By commitment? By education? By amount of pre work needed? (Are you then comparing a kindergarten teacher to a math teacher who has the same lesson plan every year?) Should ESL teachers be paid differently to teach struggling kids? Or by experience? This last seems to be the best of the evils. The more/longer you teacher the better teacher you are is the reasoning. As for teachers not being fired … teachers may be guaranteed a job within a district, but not given the right to choose location or subject or grade, basically forcing them to quit. Summer holidays, yep. But teachers can not take time off when the TEACHERS wants it. Too bad if the rest of the family wants to take a trip to Florida in January – teachers are too busy teaching.

      I don’t think anyone is disputing that teachers don’t earn their wages. But as a private employee, I expect my pay to vary depending on the number of people I am supervising/teaching/catering to.

      • Performance in any job or task can be measured, fairly or not. Among the objectives that I am measured against in my annual performance review are some that I cannot control, they depend fully on the environment I am given to work within. I accept those, because I understand that they will change from year to year, and I have learned to make the most of the years when I know I can meet or exceed my objectives. And most good managers/supervisors know to take those extraneous factors into account. I fully believe that teachers don’t have performance objectives only because no one has ever tried.

        I absolutely disagree that seniority is the only (or least worst) measure by which teachers (or anyone else, for that matter) should be given pay increases, especially in a job that you cannot lose for performing poorly, or nearly any other reason. Seniority is an archaic concept that does not belong in the 21st century, and it most certainly is not the same as experience.

        Guaranteed pay raises take away motivation for people to do their best. If you went to a restaurant where the servers were guaranteed a 20% tip just for being there, and had no fear of ever losing their jobs, do you think they’d be motivated to provide you with the best level of service they could? Does anyone want to entrust their child’s future to anyone that has no incentive to do their very best? I certainly don’t. I’ve spent enough time at my child’s school, and talked to enough other parents to know exactly which teachers I want to avoid in each grade. And I know I’m not the only parent who feels that way.

        I would be happy if the teachers got most of what they’re asking for. Some of the benefits asks are a little frivolous; $700/year for massage on its own sounds nice when they talk about it in the press and how dare the government not allow such a modest increase, but what doesn’t get mentioned is how they’ve cleverly itemized the various paramedical services for a total limit of $3600/year in 2015, and $4200/year in 2016. In comparison, most private sector benefits packages max out at $1000-$1500/year for ALL paramedical services combined. That and some others aside, however, their proposal is fairly reasonable. But, in return, the BCTF should get rid of the notion of seniority and guaranteed pay increases. Develop a fair way for teachers’ performance to be measured, and hand out raises based on how they do. Let teachers that are most qualified get jobs, not ones that have been there the longest. Let any teacher apply for any job posting, and get hired based on merit, not seniority. That’s fair. And that’s good for children.

  21. Dan, I really have listened to what many teachers have said, and you’re actually illustrating my point with your post by comparing them to other professions. Many other professionals that you haven’t listed make similar salaries to teachers, some make lower salaries. Teachers may not be thought of less, but they are working in a profession that is paid by public funds. For lawyers who work for the crown, they make considerably less than lawyers who work for private firms. I think of social workers, many who have graduate degrees, and many of them are paid considerably less than teachers, and they can surely contribute to helping with some of the social problems that you mention. I believe that teachers should get an annual cost of living increase, but I do think that for most people, they enter a profession knowing what the salary range will be, and know that it’s likely not going to vary dramatically unless they change professions.

    • But Bobbie, keeping up with the cost of living IS all teachers are asking for. Don’t forget they got 0% last time around. I entered the profession over twenty years ago knowing what the salary range would be, and it has not remotely kept up to the cost of living increases. If we got an annual COLA we would be delighted, and it would solve the wage issue at least.

  22. Bobbi hit the nail on the head, its an annual salary not unpaid leave for 3 months. So sick of hearing that nonsense and there are so many professions that require annual fees and constant upgrading out of pocket. Insurance for one and have you ever asked how much or should I say little they make? The government is corrupt no doubt and I do hope this strike has made people become more involved and wonder how to change it. I want to see a full uprising against this so called democracy! The fact that public schools aren’t good enough for Kristy Clarke and the rest of our horrible political party is asinine. There are points to both sides, mostly not the liberals but to have the teachers work a real days work and scale back on some of the benefits I think would prevent the numerous uncompassionate, ridiculous teachers that I have crossed paths with. The actual teachers that were there for the pure love of children and the job would start to shine more if it wasn’t all about full medical, dental, vacation etc. I love unions and what they have done for our nation, if only that were todays day but its not and too many people get into this line of work for the benefits not the desire to be with kids all day. They need a serious scale back on benefits, to get more funding back into the school as they should be. This government should be dedicated to building a nation of brilliant children, why they cant see that has me baffled. The note on private school grants makes me sick. I feel like our political party are terrorists most of the time determined in crippling our nation but having my kid’s kindergarten teacher and every teacher since refuse to unlock a public building 5 minutes early in the sideways blowing November winds because they aren’t on the clock yet makes me want to knock them out. I have heard that song and dance for so many years now. Get a different job you heartless cow with far too many benefits. And get out and vote, do your homework!!

  23. I am not a parent, but I have a nephew in the current BC school system, and a great niece who was to enter Kindergarten this year. When my nephew was in Grade One, he was the only student in his class who was not an ESL Learner, a Special Needs Learner, or a First Nations Learner. That is hugely challenging, if not impossible, mix for any teacher. Just my two cents, Heather

  24. Sorry don’t like unions and public unions are the worst! Everyone has the right to look for work that pays what they think there worth so do it. If you don’t like your job or what your paid quit and move on but if you think you can band together the good the bad and the incompetent and force the public to pay you all the same your sick!

  25. Anyone ever think about the poorer Liberal Voters who have children in school? One good thing about all this not withstanding the 40.00 a day is that maybe they will vote differently next time. God I dislike liberals……….

  26. Keeping up with the cost of living? Is that a joke? In what world does an employer “keep up with the cost of living” If that was the case then minimum wage should be 20 dollars an hour. And well it really should. I should have an annual increase in reflection to inflation hands down. Yes, but…I agree they should have their wage increased based on job performance like the rest of us. There are several ways that a teachers performance can be rated.

    • I agree with April!! Whose wage is keeping up with the cost of living??? We have to wait one year to get our first 1% increase after our contract was renewed… and it’s one of the major union. No other comment….

  27. Imagine you have been through 5 years of university to qualify for your job. You get hired into a pool of people and the expectation is you have to be on call for a while before you get a full time contract. Being on call isn’t so bad you think, you get a phone call between 5:30 and 6:30, you accept it and off you go to your job for the day. You have to follow someone else’s day plan and argue with people who just wanna push your buttons but what the hell, it’s $200 so you do it.

    And you do that for a few weeks and then you’re offered a full time contract. You’re happy because you finally have some certainty. You can get your wife off your case because you can finally pull your weight on the mortgage payments.

    Then the government announces you get a pay raise. That’s awesome, you think, until the government announces it is budgeting less money for your industry so the people who actually pay you have to cut money from somewhere to pay for the raise. This means all the people with less than five years of experience (five years!) get laid off so that everyone else gets a raise. Does the union step up with ideas for job sharing? Nope. Do the universities stop graduating people to do work they will never be able to do? Nope. Does the government get pressure placed on it to stop being so assholish? Nope. In fact, it gets excited about ripping up contracted agreements. And it gets voted in again.

    Meanwhile, you’re back to being on call. You work a day a week if you’re lucky. Your wife is worried about the mortgage. You take another job landscaping for a friend. You get called in to sub for a fat cat at the top of the payscale who has “hurt his back” but who all his colleagues know full well is fishing. You do a great job and people even notice but they can’t hire you because “There’s nothing I can do.”

    There are plenty of villains here. Not too many heroes. Sounds like fiction. It’s all facts. It happened to me.

  28. #2 is an odd point.
    Why is it so absurd that a parent who is reading this article, (a parent who by self-selection cares about their child’s education) would be incapable of teaching their children? You seem convinced that it’s an impossible task and perhaps an irresponsible decision. Yes, it’d have a huge economic impact on the family finances if that parent were currently working. What’s strange is the insinuation that parents need 5 years of college and a number of official stamps of approval to teach their own kids. I argue that this mentality underestimates the teaching ability of your involved parental readership while simultaneously overestimating the benefits of “qualified” professional teachers. Perhaps a trained teacher can corral and teach a group of 20 students better than your average reader, but in a one on one situation? I don’t think the teacher has much of an edge over a parent in that regard.

    Plenty of parents without educational degrees choose to home-school their children, and home-schooled children aren’t known for being academic slouches.

    Why do we have K-12 public education anyway? Is it because parents are incapable of teaching their kids? No. I’d argue it’s rather because we want to ensure that every child has access to education, even those with delinquent or single parents. We shouldn’t confuse the idea that every child in our society should have access to education with the premise that only teachers have the skillset to educate.

  29. The BCTF has gone on strike 50 times since 1987. The NDP (a union ally) government was so tired of their BS, they had to legislate them back to work. Now if they can’t make a deal with your NDP friends, what chance do you think the Liberals are going to have? Christy Clark was elected with an upset win because people couldn’t stomach another NDP government being elected. That being said, I’m no fan of any political party. Just remember that all of the increasing wages and benefits for government workers come out of your pocket and have been growing at far faster rates than the private sector. This cannot continue. The BCTF comes across to the public as a whiny, bitchy, and militant union that’s never happy and will hold our kids hostage time and again to get their demands. These are the facts, that’s the history and the public and the parents are tired of it. This is the line in the sand, if we don’t stop the out of control BCTF (who represent many devoted and caring teachers who don’t like how they’re being led) then we know you’ll be back to do the same thing next time. Just like your history so clearly suggests. After all that, I still dislike Crusty Clark and I would like a full public inquiry into the theft of BC Rail.

  30. Hey G-Dragon,
    I will take you up on your offer for some time management classes! Perhaps they can teach me how to teach students for 5 hours, prepare and run a staff meeting for 1-2 hours (but that’s only twice a month), coach basketball/volleyball/track and field (depending on the season) for 1-2 hours, photocopy/bind books for 10-15 minutes, meet with or phone parents for 10-15 minutes, plan by myself or with colleagues for 1/2 hour, write my day plan for 10-15 minutes, sync and charge iPads (although that only takes 5-10 minutes), hold a student council meeting for 1/2 hour (or something similar on my lunch break), scan materials for my visually impaired student for 10-15 minutes, e-mail tomorrow’s lessons and assignments to my physically dependent student (say for 5 minutes), find/create adapted or modified materials for my students working 4-5 grades below their peers (sometimes up to an hour), etc. Shall I go on? I would LOVE to know how to do the job that I am expected to do more efficiently! I guess my 16 years of teaching experience haven’t taught me much! And by the way, it’s “straight” not “strait”.

  31. What a thorough and clearly written piece! It is so encouraging to have people speak passionately for us in the midst of frustrating and discouraging days. Your voice is appreciated! Thank you, thank you!

  32. Your article is well written and I agree with majority of what is said, however as a parent of 4 children who have also been in this public education system, your #2 point is far from the mark. Majority of the teachers which myself and my children have had throughout K-12 have been terrible. With the exception of the Kindergarten teachers which for some reason all seem amazing, 75% of the remaining teachers are terrible at teaching or just do not care. The problem is they are all union workers, and there is no way of getting rid of them for better teachers who actually care. I have some friends who seem to love children and have a passion for teaching, but they are having trouble getting in through the front door. Luckily my kids have been blessed with book smarts as they have been able to do very well, making it into the better universities.

    • The ‘majority’ have been terrible? How exactly are you making this assessment? You of course know exactly what your children were like in school as you were there in the classroom with them, right?

  33. The teachers (and part of the public) are fighting bullies… It’s the only way to describe the government. I think the blog summarized it well!

  34. A fundamental question that no one ever seems to ask: why do public sector unions even exist?

    I would generally fall under the anti-union category. I am especially against public sector unions, because they make absolutely no sense. Historically labour unions were meant to protect workers from those evil capitalists; you know the factory owner with the monocle and mustache type. Now we have public sector unions to protect workers against a socialist government…. say what now?

    Private trade unions bargain against capitalists for a fair cut of the cooperative surplus. Teachers and any other Government worker unions are bargaining against everybody who pays taxes and/or benefits from government spending. By supporting pay increases for government sector workers; you are essentially supporting higher taxes and/or more deficit spending. I don’t even live in Canada anymore but one of the reasons I have no intention of returning is the taxes you are subjected to are out of control.

    I’m also sick of hearing about this teachers strike, but for different reasons than most. Everyone gets caught up in all the details that frankly don’t really matter. What matters is increased govt costs=more taxes; period. I agree with the title of the post, yes people should be shouting at their government, but they should be shouting at them to find ways to reduce their tax burden, not increase it.

  35. Saying teachers don‘t care about students is ludicrous. It‘s equivalent to saying nurses don‘t care about patients’ health, firemen don‘t care about putting out fires, policemen don‘t care about safety, public order or reducing crime.

    • It amazes me how sheltered you are in this world. There are always bad elements to everything. You wouldn’t need internal affairs if there were not such thing as corrupt cops. The issue with teachers is that they are protected by the union, once in they are in for good unless they really screw up. Hell, when my father was in the hospital for 6 months from a major spinal injury, the bed side manners from a few nurses were terrible. I understand that overcrowding is probably a reason for that. Anyhow thats another issue altogether.

      • What do you mean, ‘sheltered’. You don‘t know me.

        Learn to read. My argument was not that all cops are nice guys, or all nurses friendly, but that the position that somehow politicians have students‘ interests at heart more than teachers is absurd and ingenuous.

  36. If you are a teacher and you are more worried about your salary that what you have signed up for. You are in the wrong.

  37. I appreciate your article.
    I think the government is playing really smart at rejecting all the teachers proposals because it’ll create a balloon effect on the entire system if they sign to give teachers their unrealistic demands of money. Other unions would want (and get) more money too, BC can’t afford it. Jim Iker is already grasping at straws, desperate. Why would the government agree, the longer they wait the more money they’re saving…and in fact they’re making money. Teachers are starving (literally and figuratively) and it’s only a matter of time before they concede.
    I also think it’s a matter of consistency, teachers are living in a fantasy world. There are many MANY jobs in the real world who require higher education and more degrees and they don’t make or have access to the same amount of tiered system the teachers want. I’d like them to step out of their teacher pay, try to get another job and see if they can make half as much. What really gets me is that in BC they have 2 months off in the summer, Christmas vacation, and a 2 week spring break vacation too…COME ON!
    As for teachers who buy their own supplies, they give the receipts to their admins and it’s claimed.
    My last beef is that crazy person who is sending up a fundraising campaign to give the $40/day parents are receiving to BCTF. All I can conclude is that she’s rich…perhaps fundraise to help the parents out there who are LOSING WORK to care for their kids, or paying other people to care for their kids so they don’t lose their jobs.
    End of rant.

    • 1. I work all summer.
      2. I’ve never had my supplies re-imbursed by an adminstrator.
      3. I’ve done many other jobs & am currently looking for something else as I’m, quite frankly, fed up with the complete lack of respect that people like yourself have for both education and educators.

    • Perhaps you should continue reading up on the issues and realize that the issue both sides are stuck on is size and composition, not the money. They are close enough as far as wages go, it’s size and composition aka something that directly affects your child who, heaven forbid needs a little extra help learning, won’t get nearly as much help as they deserve in a class of 35+ with multiple children with special needs.

      • It is inaccurate to say that it is not about money. Class size and composition are directly related to money as this will determine how teachers, support workers, supplies, etc each school/school board requires. Wages and benefits are just one aspect (albeit the largest factor) in the greater financial picture. If the government had access to unlimited funds, I’m sure they would happily agree to all of the teachers’ demands. Unfortunately, they don’t and the BCTF is not the only public sector union that the government must bargain with. In the end it is the taxpayer that will foot the bill.

  38. Interesting article. I know teachers who said they want to be in classroom teaching, not on strike. Their feeling frustrated with government. Not a lot of supports for children & youth with different special needs, disabilities, behavioral challenges. I work with young adults with autism,who were once in school system so I empathize with teachers.

  39. Private schools get 5.5% of the education budget and not all private schools receive a full 50% of the public funds and some receive no public funds. While I agree that a voucher system is a scary thought I don’t agree with your position that people place their children in private schools so they that “they’re well-to-do children don’t have to share a class with your non rich children”. They send them because the system, (as you point out) is clearly quite flawed and like any parent we’re going to give them the best education we can.
    Many private schools would not survive if that funding was cut. The effect of that is that these students would end up back in the public sector and that, in turn, would increase the cost beyond the $300-million it currently costs the province to cover a portion of the expenses of an independent school. The private schools are funding the public, not the other way around.

  40. Here’s a different take…..
    First. Well written. Well researched. I too have no teachers in my family and my kids finished school quite some time ago. I am, as you, fairly passionate about this issue, because people of this province desreve better from both the gov. and the B.C.T.F. Unlike you, I cannot entirely blame one side for the mess.
    Let me say, I do feel very sorry for our teachers. In my view, they have been screwed by the gov. and horribly represented by the union. If this was a card game, most would say J.Iker and company have not played their cards well at all. Unfortunatly, there is a whole lot more at stake here.
    Your article points out the tremendous truth about the B.C. governments’ dismal treatment of and lack of respect for B.C. teachers.
    However, for quite sometime now the BCTF has been fuelling the ill will fires that burn between themselves and government. They hold the not-so-prestigious reputation as being one of, if not, the most difficult unions in the country. They are notorious for supporting and/or opposing all kinds of issues that really have nothing to do with teachers and their jobs.
    Reading articles written by the B.C. Taxpayers Federation can help inform people about these activities. ( FYI The B.C. Taxpayers Federation represents all taxpayers of this province and is usually busy holding the governments’ feet to the fire on a variety of issues. I find most articles by them to be factual, informative and thought provoking and biased only on behalf of we taxpayers) Without going into too much detail, the Taxpayers Federation has revealed that the B.C.T.F. has spent time, money and effort on helping protest most major economic development plans in our province. They have also supported similar protests outside of this province on issues that have nothing to do with B.C. They have been actively supporting so many protests that I question where they find the time to serve the folks they are really supposed to be supporting.The results of this are apparent when one looks at how poorly our teachers have been represented in this dispute and how little was left in the long ago empty strike fund.
    Where it concerns “delivering the message” the BCTF have fallen far behind the times. They have utterly failed to forge a positive image on behalf of teachers.Their blame game sound bites are old-school fodder for fools and really insulting to any intellegent interested party. Their time, energy and resources should have been spent on developing the skills required to match the slick and nasty opponent they now face. Bigger understanding of government motive, better tactical planning, and finally, full on focus to teachers, might have helped the B.C.T.F avoid at least some of the financial devastation to its members.
    Its a shame, really. And at this time, nothing can be done. Teachers must show solidarity…. no dissention in the ranks and all that stuff. But if I was a teacher, when this awful situations concludes……… I would be calling Jim Iker and asking questions.

  41. I quit my job because I didn’t like it. I make less money now but I’m happy. Not only teachers have to pay for employee development, many people do. I wish teachers could get what they want, and I wish the government could give them what they need too. At this point I hate them all and I want this situation resolved so we could resume life.

    • Wow! You sound like a bitter and unhappy person. I don’t think you really understand the point. Teachers do like their jobs (or at least the ones I know). They just know that the system used to be BETTER. Like, way better and that’s what they want for the students and themselves. Since when shouldn’t people ask for BETTER for everyone? It’s not just about the individual.

  42. What an angry rant!

    Emotions aside, and totally agreeing that the Liberals have their own unknown agenda at heart. The teachers of BC do have to take the blame for trusting the BCTF. The BCTF is politically motivated and I am unclear what ranks higher in their agenda, their political aspirations or the well being of our teachers.

    Two examples that irk me :
    1. BCTF is a major financial contributor to the NDP
    2. At the Enbridge pipeline protest BCTF was out in force and their banner clearly visible in news reports. However, they love to compare BC teacher salaries to Alberta. But isn’t Alberta’s affluence a result of the rewards from same energy sector the BCTF don’t want growing in BC? BCTF are a bunch of hypocrits!

  43. RE: funding of private education.

    Do parents of children who go to private schools pay taxes? yes.
    Are these taxes to be used to fund their children’s schooling? yes.

    If a parent chooses to sent their kid to a private school, does that mean their taxes paid that are to be used to fund their children’s schooling be nulled and applied elsewhere? no.

    Your view of the fact that money is being used to fund private education is laughable. Perhaps parents who do not have children attending public schools should pay less taxes since they are not using that service?

  44. Thank you much! This article made my day in what is a VERY trying time. I, as well as many other teachers, have given up so much personally because we know this is the right thing to do. Our kids need and deserve support which means funding. I love my job, but it is getting harder and harder to do each and every year. It is painful to watch kids who needs testing, counselling, resource support and lots of other services go without. The cuts have happened slowly over the past 12 years and each and every year we try to make it work. We can’t keep doing it! It is not possible. Kids safety is at risk. Teachers are going on health leaves. The job is becoming un-doable. We must put our kids first. Now is the time for everyone to stand up and do what is right for all of our kids. The government needs to be held accountable for their choices and for the money they have taken out of education. Please stand up now!

    • Ridiculous! The teachers get paid property and they still want a raise and more benefits??!? They even say they are “doing for kids”, “doing for money” is the truth! I really really hope that the government will NOT let the teachers to take away more money from taxpayers (our) pockets! Class size? In my country our teachers have like 40 students in a classroom on average and the teachers have no problem teaching at all and the students have no problem learning at all, that’s how i grew up. And now the teachers here are complaining about 30 students?!?? What a joke! I go to work everyday and earn my money, and that’s life, you can’t just grab a chair and sit outside for the whole day just because you want a raise! So irresponsible!!

      • Your country? Kids may have learned but to what level? Was inclusion practiced? Our education system in Canada is failing because of too many social scientists and psychologists stating the best way to teach or Operate an education system. The system is broken so FIX it. The real issue is that the cost of living is climbing exponentially versus all of our salaries. Did your salary increase threefold in the last 10 years? Well depending on where you live in BC the cost of home ownership did. The government needs to rectify that issue asap.

      • If it was about the money, the strike would’ve been over long ago! NO amount of wage increase will ever make up for the money teachers are losing while they stand up for the children and public education system in B.C. You have ZERO clue what you are talking about if you think it’s about the money. “Greedy” teachers are going without and taking huge financial hits to stand up for students!

  45. An extremely naive point of view totally disregarding the government’s financial responsibility and the Democratic process that put them in power.
    If you don’t like it, change your vote next time!

  46. I like your post, but I disagree that you do not have a stake in this dispute. Everyone in society benefits from a healthy public education system whether or not they are in school, have school-aged children or work in the system. A strong, healthy public education system is vital for a strong, healthy democracy.

  47. Although she makes valid points in support I the union (that’s why we have Labor Day), we have family day because of this liberal government. The difference between the two on benefits (150 million) is the same short fall on class size. If the union terminated those huge demands in benefits, this thing could be over.

  48. What’s the deal with picking on private schools? I went to a private school K-12 and I was pretty offended at point #4. Should I forfeit the right to my government funding for education if my parents choose to send me to a private school? Don’t my parents pay exactly the same amount of taxes as you do? Yes they do. They pay the same taxes that go to public education as anyone else, and they only get half the benefit back, plus having to pay MORE to send us kids to a school of their choice. My parents wanted to send us to a school where they knew we wouldn’t get our heads pushed in the toilet by bullies, and to a school where our religion is not something to be squashed out by people who don’t understand. They sent us to a school where we wouldn’t be robbed of the things that other kids are in public school. All of my teachers were caring. enthusiastic and INVOLVED. They get less pay than the public school teachers, by choice, because they want to work there. Our class sizes were awesome and we have great support for special needs kids. BUT my school honestly couldn’t run without that 50% from each student. If tuition was raised any higher, there wouldn’t be any kids to teach! My family isn’t rich, we’re just middle class. My parents work hard and sacrifice so many luxuries so that they can afford to send us to a Private school.

    In addition to all this, my parents and I support the teachers in this strike. My vote counts just as much as yours, so perhaps you should be wary of alienating a whole sector of the voting population simply because of where they went to school.

    • Hi Marina,

      Your sentiments are echoed by many other commentors on this post and so although I’ve mostly been watching the discussion unfold rather than getting involved myself I’d like to respond. It’s wonderful that you had a good experience in your private school and I appreciate that your parents would have made sacrifices to put you there, however, my issue with public funds being used for private schools is that private schools are EXCLUSIONARY. They can say no to children they don’t want to teach based on income, religion, or other exclusionary factors. It is not fair to use public funds to exclude some of the public’s children.

      I also pay taxes even though I don’t have any children at all, and I think of paying taxes this way: I pay taxes for public services because these public services benefit society, whether I use them or not. For example, even though I have never needed open heart surgery, I still pay taxes that help cover the medical costs of those who do. What if some people decided they didn’t want to use public hospitals because they didn’t like the wait times, etc.? Should the public’s taxes be used to subsidize private health clinics that can turn down patients they don’t feel like treating? Of course not.

      In the same way, I believe that public education money should be used for public education, not for institutions that can exclude members of the public. I have no doubt your school was great. But private school is some parents’ PREFERENCE, and public education is an absolute NECESSITY for a humane and thriving democracy. In a properly funded public education system the small class sizes you enjoyed would be available to all children, not just children whose parents could pay (with no disrespect to the sacrifices your parents made to pay for your education). Thank you for reading and for your comment.

  49. 70k a year? What BC stats are you looking at? Starting salary is about 44k for a full time contract position. I went through the teaching program and had my eyes opened when I did my two elementary practicums. The issue is classroom composition. Too many kids on separate programs in most classrooms due to mental or behavioural issues. Curriculum is also severely outdated. Funding for schooling is being cut as a result of increases in utility costs to run these schools. I worked at a sawmill and made fairly easy money. Being a teacher is far more challenging.

  50. It’s always unfortunate when someone making some reasonable points has to start attacking the independent schools. If parents choose to send their children to a faith-based school (which receives only partial funding for operational costs and thus saves the government vast amounts of money), why would you want to take that option away? These schools charge reasonable amounts that only make up for part of the operational costs. The teachers have lower salaries and fewer benefits and spend 10-12 hours each day at work before taking home marking and prep work. Certainly, many of the independent schools that are not faith-based charge vast amounts and only cater to the elite, but such is not the case with these faith-based schools. For some people, faith is an integral part of their lives and they wish their children to be immersed in it. Many can hardly afford the $300/month that they pay, but they make sacrifices. Yet you would take that option away from them because of your personal bias against so-called private schools. Have you even considered the fact that, because the schools are only partially funded, they are actually under far more government scrutiny than public schools? They are evaluated and audited regularly, with evaluators inspecting every single aspect you can think of…and more.
    Teachers should be respected: all teachers, not just public school teachers. You discuss the hoops one must jump through in order to become a public school teacher; there are just as many if not more hoops for teachers in independent schools.
    It’s very distressing when one feels she must attack a whole community of families and educators in order to make her point. You seem to be advocating a reduction in spending on education. That will not work. The point should be that some of our kids and teachers are in school and some are not. The government needs to step up to get everyone back in school.

    • Hi there, thank you for your comment. If you’re interested, please see my response to Marina above (she had similar arguments). I think ultimately this may be an issue on which it will not be possible to reconcile our deeply held differences of opinion, at least not at this point in my life. Thank you for disagreeing intelligently and respectfully–these kinds of discussions are exactly what people should be doing more of.

  51. As a tax paying citizen who has chosen to send my kids to pricate school (not an elitest school for rich kids) disagree with your statement about funding for private education. Each student is funded a third and that is my tax dollars at work. You should be thrilled that my children arent contributing to the over crowding in the public system. I am tired of people that choose private school being flogged in this strike. I pay taxes to.

  52. all of this still amounts to what is for the teachers. i thought they were striking for the kids. why are they not striking for the special needs workers who are specially trained for working with the special needs kids. the stuff that doesn’t fit the teachers training. if they had that then their work load would be easier, the kids would be better cared for and all might be happy. would be nice if it were truly about the kids

  53. Anybody who says teachers don’t care have their head up their …..well,you know. A little story. My wife passed away last week after a long battle with cancer. We have a six year old and a three year old. Our six year old just finished kindergarten in June and the funeral last Saturday. As we followed the casket down the aisle my daughter saw her teacher and another teacher standing amongst the pews with tears in their eyes. My daughter’s beaming smile told me how much it meant to her to see her teacher. And some people think teachers don’t care….think again. I, for one, will never forget that teacher.

  54. Hi Lauren, after having read through all that I can agree with mos points except the part about private schools. If, say, the BC government were to provide buses to carry school children to and from school and one day it had not enough buses and needed to turn to private operators to close the gap. Do you think these private operators would then accept 50% of their operating costs (or 50% of the average public school buses’ operating costs) as a sufficient fare to carry the same amount of children over the same distances as the missing public school buses would have had to? Of course they’d want to get 100% of their operating expenses. This private school bashing is just as nuts as union bashing or teacher bashing as you deplored. Just leave it out of the equation. For someone well versed in how private schools are deliberately underfunded almost all over the world to not let them become competitors to the public school system as politicians want to keep education under their control (why not bakeries? Is eating not even more important than reading?) I know that this argument drives a wedge between “the one school and the other” and ends in perfect desolidarization. That is actually doing the enemy’s work. Your arguments stand validated wuite on their own without private school bashing. And … while I do not know the situation in BC, I know that most private school teachers actually earn less than unionized public school teachers worldwide. There are exceptions, but few. So these guys are doing the same work (ok maybe they have smaller classes – which is what brought about the whole mess as I understand) and often take home less pay (over their lifetime, i.e. including pensions etc.) and have less secure jobs. No need to bring this private school thing up. If the BC government pays them only 50% that actually means there is more (!!!) money left for the remaining public teachers (!) than if all private schools closed and the government had to pay 100% or is my math wrong?!

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