Monday, March 5, 2012

What do YOU want from education?

A young woman, for whom I have unlimited regard, sent this message to me. She is a very experienced school teacher with a Masters degree in education. She knows more about teaching youngsters than nearly all of us could aspire to know. Beyond that, she cares deeply about empowering children who have little opportunity. She lives on the North Shore and could teach anywhere but has chosen to spend her career on Vancouver's east side where many children are poorly fed, badly clothed and struggling without family supports and resources.
"If you are a parent with a child in the public school system, you will want to watch this video. As a parent, the future of my child’s education is at risk. I’ve been teaching for 20 years and Bill 22 makes me terrified. If the government wanted to simply deny the teachers a wage increase they could have mandated that, but this bill includes so much more that it makes my stomach turn in disgust. Watch the video for a child’s insight into what happened today in the BC Legislature and make your own decision about the current contract dispute."

Recommended reading about teaching in BC.

Recommend this post


  1. Well, the world needs ditch diggers too. - Those ditches are not going to dig themselves.

  2. I watched the video with great interest and find it hard to believe that our young people - bright and intelligent as they clearly are, continue to be sucked in by the rhetoric of the BCTF. Most of what the young lady says is biased towards the intransigent positioning of the BCTF and its minions who continually position themselves as the "saviours" of teachers and students. Clearly this is not the case. When is the BCTF going to agree to finding a way to weed out incompetent teachers and insist that they improve on their professionalism in the classroom? (yes, there are incompetent teachers, my considered opinion is that about 20% of them need to be told to shape up and perform at expected levels).

    The BCTF has had one year to sit down at the negotiating table and discuss in good faith many of the non-monetary issues that are the big sticking points today. George Abbott has pointed out that many of those issues have already been resolved by School Districts in the province but there seems to be no appetite for the BCTF to discuss these matters without tying them to compensation issues - therefore no discussion.

    I belonged to the BCTF 30 years ago, I negotiated a local teacher agreement on behalf of the BCTF during that time. It was just as challenging then as it is now to come to agreement as complete mistrust of "the government" was the main platform for so called negotiations prescribed by the BCTF.

    After 40 years of watching this merry go round continue, I am disappointed and surprised that erudite young people get sucker punched by an organization that continues to rely on misinformation and grand standing to make its point.

    You are educators, you get paid to communicate, it is not all the fault of the government here.

    Let's not forget that we have one of the best education systems in the world in BC despite all the rhetoric, we must have been doing something right with the billions of dollars of tax payers money that has been spent over the past 30 years.

    I happen to believe that George Abbott is probably the best Education Minister this province has ever had, I hope he sticks to his guns and forces a change in this incredibly stupid process. The BCTF is an embarrassment to the union movement. 137 unions have settled under the net zero mandate, why does the BCTF think they are so special?

    One last point, the BCTF continuously blames government for the problems we face today in education.

    This organization has never been able to settle with any government that is in power, not once in the 10 years the NDP was in power did they come to an agreement without legislation being imposed. What conclusion are we really supposed to make here?

  3. To comment on anonymous's point about incompetent teachers - the BCTF is not the employer, it had unionization forced on it by the Socreds. The employer is the person responsible for evaluating, then rewarding it's employees appropriately. In this case, suspending or firing them when they deliver a bad performance. The union's position in these situations is to ensure the employee received due process, not to support incompetence. To fire anybody requires evidence gathering and remedial training sometimes. If they want to fire someone without due process, they can, but it will cost them a severance payment.

  4. I'm of Norm's generation and I'm happy to say that I received what I think was a very good education from some excellent teachers (Alberta). Back in the day I can't recall a single class being less than 30 students; the usual was 33 to 35 (well, being baby boomers meant we were a large demographic). The teachers who taught my generation seemingly had no trouble coping with classes of that size. Exercise: add up all the extra accumulated hours during a school year of a teacher administering exams and marking same for 7 extra students in the class. My question is why do today's teachers have such a hard time coping with a class of 28?
    I'm not completely unsympathetic; I think teachers should be given a cost of living hike at the very least.

    1. I think that we live in a time of entitlement, individual rights, low expectations for manners and discipline and adults trying to befriend children rather than parent and guide. High expectations for behavior and learning are rare. Dealing with a few 'bad apples' by demoralizing everyone is never smart or inspirational in any workplace.

    2. I think one of the main issues is the lack of support for special needs students, and how they're being dumped into regular classrooms with little or no support. Throw two or three of them into a class of 30+, and you'll find teachers are spending more of their time just trying to keep a class on track than actually teaching them new things.

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  6. George Abbott could be a fine Education Minister and even an adequate premier if he was smart and strong enough to stand up to Clark and Gorman. Anyone who reads Bill 22 can see how dark, twisted, and vindictive it is--designed to intimidate and get the BC Libs through to the next election. Win or lose, the next govt has a mess on their hands. Christy has sealed Abnott's fate now too

  7. Ole, I believe there is a huge difference. When I was a kid going to school in Calgary in the mid 50's and into the 60's we had manners and understood authority. We said please and thank you. We said yes ma’am and no sir. We also knew how to say we were sorry (even though sometimes we did not mean it). That does not mean that we were never little devils, we were kids. We were all 98 percent white and spoke English. Racial difficulties were basically non-existent. Children with disabilities did not attend school and ESL would not come into being for several decades. If we got out of line we were sent to the office and a good strapping was applied. Our parents were informed and when we got home a strapping happened again (I am talking from a vast experience). Did you ever have your knuckles rapped with a ruler or perhaps a smack on the back of the head? Parents respected teachers and did not consider them as baby sitters. Today half the bitching comes from the fact that the baby sitter is on strike, not the teacher. That is what I am seeing on the news. We now live in a society where children have equal or more rights than adults. Maybe things are different today (thank you Dr. Spock)?

    1. Rob, you are 100% correct. What you describe is what I remember. Yes, I got hauled out of the boys washroom by the principal tugging my ear - for being too loud and boisterous - I guess he heard it from down the hall. (He later became one of my favourite teachers.) Back in the day the vast majority of parents were on the side of the teachers with regard to any discipline that was meted out. Today's parents are quick to threaten lawsuits against any teacher who may have disciplined their child.
      But the main point is that today's classrooms are very different from those back when. Special needs students went to their own schools rather than being mixed in with the regular classroom. And increased immigration has certainly increased the need for ESL classes - something I could have used in grade one. We had only months before arrived in Canada from the old country and I didn't speak much English. Anyway - point well made: teachers today face different challenges in the classroom.



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