Debunking myths. 8 untrue statements about BC Education

How can I make anyone understand the issues in the dispute between government and the BCTF? It’s so exasperating hearing some comments – especially those repeated in the press! So much of it is just untrue. I don’t blame the public for its ignorance. Unless you’re working in the field, it’s hard for you to know what’s really going on. But my god, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. And much of it is narrative created by government.

For the life of me, I can’t understand how anyone could doubt the teachers in favour of believing the government narrative. How is it possible that people mistrust teachers? Teachers! That odd brood of overly moral sticklers – the ones who told you not to swear in the hallways; the ones who caught you out for cheating on tests. You believe the government over them? Ask yourself this: How often did your teachers lie to you? How about politicians?

Anyhow. Here they are: 8 untrue statements.

Untrue statement #1 – Teachers are greedy.

Teachers in BC are the second lowest paid in the country, and they have not had an increase since 2010. This includes benefit plans. These are simple facts. The wage proposal they have on the table currently would not make them number 1 in Canada – not even number 3.

Untrue statement #2 – This dispute has gone on for decades with all governments.

Up until the end of the 90s, bargaining was done locally, district by district. The first real provincial bargaining began with the BC Liberals. The government’s behaviour, which is detailed in the Supreme Court’s Bill 28 ruling, was antagonistic, and unlawful. And it has continued to be.

Furthermore, a lot of BCTF press in the past centred around its fight for human rights provisions for its members. It’s unthinkable now that we would exclude people from teaching based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, but in the 80s and 90s a lot of people took exception to the BCTF for its stand on these “controversial” issues. Perhaps that’s what people are remembering.

Never in the history of the BCTF  has there been this much acrimony with government. Teachers are seeing the public school system being dismantled. They have desperately tried to hold the thing from falling in on itself, but the services keep getting cut more and more deeply, and the teachers are getting tired. Morale is at an all-time low.  It’s bound to affect the children. Does this matter to anyone?

This government wants to privatize education. They want to see charter schools and user fees. Their vision is for a system that would be far from “universally accessible”.

Untrue statement #3 – Both parties are to blame.

The BC government was found in court (just this past January) to have negotiated in bad faith. Let me repeat that. THE GOVERNMENT NEGOTIATED IN BAD FAITH.

They also repeated legislation that violated the charter. Repeated! In other words, after being told once that they were violating the law, they violated the law again.

Untrue Statement #4 – This dispute is all about money.

Actually, that’s partly true. The public school system is being starved to death. The government is not funding districts for its employees’ pay increases. Districts are facing huge shortfalls (and teachers’ wages haven’t moved for 3 years.). BC’s public schools are underfunded to the tune of $1000 per student per year less than the national average. Those aren’t BCTF stats. Those are Stats Canada stats.

The reason for this underfunding is that the government of BC would like to force districts to seek public-private partnerships. The BCTF is opposed to this because it recognizes the vulnerability of students. What possible reason could Chevron have to sponsor programs in Coquitlam and Surrey? Which religion would you like in charge of your child’s curriculum?

This government is ideologically opposed to public funding of anything. It has privatized our rail, our hydro, our ferries, our highway maintenance and our hospital services. Every one of those services has become worse as a result. We pay higher rates while our highways get terrible snow removal and our hospitals are filthy.

Untrue Statement #5 – There is simply no money in these difficult times.

Yes there is. The BC Liberals cut income tax by 25% when they got into office. This was supposed to stimulate growth, but it did not. All it did was reduce government revenue. To recover this revenue, the Liberals have increased user fees for many things, and cut services. Then they claim poverty when it comes to keeping public sector salaries and services up to national levels.

I remember driving home from work the day tax cuts were announced. I was quite happy about this until I saw my next paycheque, which was actually lower than it had been due to an increase in CPP contributions. Only the already-wealthy benefited from these tax cuts.

A simple fact: BC’s corporate tax rate and personal income tax rate are both lowest in Canada.

Untrue Statement #6 – When I was a kid we had huge class sizes and we managed.

Well… you may have managed, but lots didn’t. Students were segregated into “special classes” years ago, and if they weren’t making the grade they’d go to “alternate school” or just drop out. And the incidence of mental illness and special needs has gone way up.

Untrue Statement #7 – The government has increased funding of schools.

The government’s reports of  increased funding of schools don’t take into account that it has not increased funding to anywhere near the level to cover increased costing. To provide the services it did before the BC Liberals were elected, the Vancouver School Board would need $47 million a year more.

Untrue Statement #8 – It’s the same old same old with the BCTF.

I’ve been in this game for 27 years. It is not the same old same old. Not by far. We are dealing with a rabid corporate ideology from a government that has no social awareness, ethics or conscience. They are destroying education.


44 thoughts on “Debunking myths. 8 untrue statements about BC Education

  1. miner49er, I would like to address something you posted in a comment: “One last thing: if parents are concerned about a teacher’s competence, they should alert the principal of the school.”

    What would you say to parents who have done just that, after watching a local teacher get lazier and lazier while approaching retirement? Parents who have seen this woman fail student after student through neglect and emotional bullying, making school something to hate and avoid? Parents who have watched while only the meek and mild children, usually girls, were treated like absolute gold, while the more flamboyant girls and energetic boys were sent to the hallway constantly and treated like second-class citizens?

    What would you say to to parents who went to the principal, first on their own and then as a group, expressing concern over this teacher’s possible burnout and were told “unfortunately, we have to wait it out until she retires. Yes, we all know she should be gone, but she has seniority AND THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO.’???

    Four years later and that teacher is still ‘teaching’, while more and more parents pull their kids from her class and either homeschool or switch schools.

    Before one of my angrier fellow commenters jumps on this to use as an example as to why teachers are greedy, teachers should be grateful for what they have, teachers should be fired, etc, let me make something very clear: teachers like the one I described are in the minority. Most of them are nothing like this and deserve much more than what they have. I have one child in high school, one in intermediate, and one almost ready for kindergarten. I have had my kids taught in two different districts and I have been exposed to many different types of teachers. Some are amazing, some are not. Some work themselves FAR too hard, some slack off to a distressing degree. Like any other profession. Teachers are people; they aren’t saints and they aren’t robots. They’re PEOPLE and we need to remember that.

    Here’s a problem I have: in most other professions, if there is an incompetent employee, firing said employee isn’t damned near impossible. In most other professions, exemplary work is rewarded with bonuses, incentives, raises, etc. I am not okay with seeing crappy teachers rewarded alongside their truly amazing colleagues and I am not okay with the superstar teachers receiving no recognition for their hard work.

    1. I would say that in the situation as you have described it, the lack of willingness of your administration to remedy the situation is a big concern, as is the incompetence of the teacher.

      A process exists if administrators have the guts to pursue it.

  2. Greetings fellow Canadians…
    life is not easy living. cost of living is by far at is highest it has ever been, and only going to get higher, eg, 10 years ago rent for a 2 bedroom was $500-$600, today your looking at $800-$1000 rent of a 2 bedroom. and not to mention Gas and Hydro, as well as food costs, and fuel prices are rising; some teachers drive quite a distance to the schools they work at, they do not live across the street.
    While the dispute is going on, I cant seem to wonder how this effects the children and youth in the long run. I know that schools are low on supplies, and some teachers have spent personal dollars for their students to have their needed materials, because the teacher would like to do a special educational project with the students and there are students who’s families couldn’t afford supplies or don’t bother to care.
    Bad teachers, or unfit teachers are hard to fire, in most cases it is because of seniority, the number of years signifies their experience, though I see this as a professional draw back. teachers become stressed, and as humans they also have personal situations that can emotionally effect their attitude, because of this I feel that teachers should have mental and emotional health evaluations every 3 years and sometimes a year off funded by EI after 10 years of dedication unless other health reasons mental or physical require the teacher need the leave at an earlier date.
    How is this effecting the students? over the past 10 years educational personal and materials has decreased significantly. supervision has decreased, and assistive teachers has decreased. as well as being able to handle Bullying.
    The Ministry Children and Families Development has strict expectations for caregivers of children and youth. why does this not apply to the governments handling of the education system?
    Poverty is hiding in plain sight. Poverty is created by those in higher rankings, not something we choose to be in. costs rise, government cuts, lack of secondary education access, income assistance recipients struggle to pay costs of living enduring depression and some fall into substance abuse.
    Our teachers are over worked, under staffed, under cared for(health) and under paid. maybe there should be more corporate donations from companies to the school system, considering the corporate government is having troubles financially being unable to budget evenly and affordably over the last 10 years. so much has been lost due to budget cuts or rearranging the budget and political raises.
    I wonder, as parents, is there a legal right for us to take. we can not just sit here and watch our educational system slip between our fingers and crash, because that is what I see happening now.
    what legal action can parents take? how can we get physically and visibly involved within this dispute? how can parents become more physically and visibly involved with their children’s schools? What are the Rights of the parents?

    Thank You

    1. You have to vote! You can encourage the best you know to vote. If you don’t vote -you don’t count. 25% of BC voters elected the Liberals, (or neo-conservative as I like to think of them). The other slightly over 25% split their vote between the NDP and the Green party. The Liberals know that young people tend not to vote. Encourage everyone you know to make their voice heard. Younger British Columbians have the most to gain or lose here. The next election is a long time from now, (about 3 years). The Liberals may be counting on people forgetting, (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is happening now). Vote, Vote, Vote! And meanwhile, write to your MLA.

  3. My resolution to this is quite immature, however when you’re dealing with people who won’t play fair and can somehow not be held accountable for being in contempt of court, immaturity seems to be the only reasonable tactic.

    I say quit! Every single member of the BCTF should quit their job, en masse, and completely shut down the education system in this province. Stupid idea, right? Well, maybe not…

    1. You can’t legislate employees back to work if there aren’t any employees;
    2. If there’s no membership to represent, then there’s no reason for the BCTF to go to the bargaining table;

    Maintain the status quo until the end of this school year. Then, on the day AFTER the last day of school, serve the Premier and her peeps with notice that every teacher in the province has submitted their resignation and, as a result, there is no need for further bargaining or negotiations. It’s not an illegal strike or a job action, it’s just 40,000+ teachers deciding to quit their jobs due to unsuitable working conditions and stress. There won’t be any protests or rallies because the teachers have simply “moved on”. As a group, they should simply go completely silent and enjoy retirement. (I’m wondering how Service Canada would respond to receiving 40,000 EI applications? A court finding an employer to have not bargained in good faith and then ignoring the ruling may be considered harassment and reasonable cause for a person to quit a job. It’s also a $2+ billion hit to a Federal Program that won’t make many people in Ottawa very happy…)

    As September nears, a sudden panic will set in and Joe and Jane Public will want to know why their kids won’t be going to school. It won’t be because of a strike or a lock out. Unfortunately, there are 40,000 vacant teaching positions in the province that can’t be filled. The government is required, by law, to provide a public education system and they simply won’t be able to do that. A court ruling will show that the government refused to bargain in good faith and it resulted in a breakdown of the entire bargaining process, and ultimately the resignation of teachers province wide. People have a right to quit their jobs.

    People want their kids to go to school and I imagine there would be very little appetite for the government to continue with it’s current practice of intimidation and blatant disregard for the law. In fact, I think the Premier would have no choice but to submit her own resignation. The complete breakdown of an education system surely justifies a lack of confidence in her ability to lead.

    Anyway, just a thought…

    And btw, I’m not a teacher or union member. I actually voted for CC because I thought people in BC would do better under her leadership. I have three kids in the public school system, all of whom work hard and do well. That said, a C+ in English 10 could be a B and possibly an A if one of my sons could get just a little extra help from his teacher. That’s not happening though and it may come back to haunt him when he applies to universities. That’s unacceptable and I simply can’t ignore the fact that he’s not getting that help because the teachers have been given clear direction by their employer to not help him and other students like him. Sorry, it’s now personal.

    1. I wish BCTF would quit, because there are other willing teachers who would take up these jobs anytime.

      1. Many of those teachers would get jobs and have fantastic work conditions and wages if what I suggest was to happen.

      2. Jason Kubota:
        That is very shortsighted of you to say. You obviously haven’t spent much time in a Public School Classroom. No teacher deserves to put in the hours a teacher must (even to do the bare minimum job) in the environment we do, for so little compensation and appreciation. And most teachers work pretty much all the time to give their students the best and the most they can. Because we are teachers because we CARE. But the government has used this AGAINST US. And we have LET THEM! I say NO MORE!

        From his comment, I see that Jason’s is exactly the mentality that allowed the government to abuse teachers. We are too nice! We have let the government walk all over us and they have kept taking away funding and applying more pressure on us, and forcing us to give up pay (which we definitely deserve) in order to obtain better classroom conditions (ie class size/composition), only then to strip those out of our contract, and be found to have done this illegally, only to repeat the offense, and now have docked our pay by 10%, and are trying to force us to sign an even worse deal, ensuring further deterioration of our Public School System.

        The always “willing” teachers who have continued to work for free after school, volunteer for endless hours, pay for school supplies with their personal money, endure growing classes and growing numbers of students with special needs in their classes despite the government’s behaviour are the very reason the government has succeeded in continuing to dismantle the Public Education System. THE MORE WE DO FOR FREE, AND ON OUR OWN TIME, AND THE MORE WE “MAKE DO” WITH LESS, WITH SEVERE SHORTAGES OF STAFF AND SUPPLIES, AND TIME, AND MONEY, THE LESS THE GOVERNMENT HAS TO DO OR PAY FOR, AND THE MORE THEY WILL CONTINUE TO TAKE AWAY.

        I have had the idea of teachers quitting and thought about it a lot. I wonder if the Government will push us to that end, and if we can stay strong together that long and in this situation of extreme pressure. The government is keen to divide us, and are adding to our stress and sending out mixed messages to confuse us, to try to add to the chaos. THE GOVERNMENT WANTS THE TEACHER’S UNION TO CRUMBLE. WE MUST NOT LET THEM. WE MUST REMAIN STRONG, AND NOT BACK DOWN, for ourselves, for our families, for our students, and for future teachers, and for future students. This not only about US and TODAY.

        I am very sorry to hear you voted for CC. It’s too bad the Public doesn’t see the deterioration of our Public School System, and that this is all happening because of the GOVERNMENT THEY HAVE CHOSEN.

        Again, I blame teachers in part, for keeping that smile on, for doing too much on our own time, for buying our own supplies, for spending weekends and evenings working while parents and the Public in general have this vision that teachers are “done at 3”, and get “so many holidays and professional days”. How is it possible that the Public thinks that teachers rarely work, when we pretty much have no lives because we are always working? Teachers are sweet caring people and we are determined to do our jobs well no matter what, and unfortunately this has allowed the Government to walk all over us. IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE.

      3. My child came home in tears today due to this teacher action/government lock out! She has no idea if she will be writing finals, what finals, and no class prep. One of the classes she was taking this year included curriculum providing a coching level one certificate, her first aid and CPR the instructor for these two certificates was a volunteer and was not billing the the school for this instruction. This was not provided and the teacher could not take the time to set the dates for this instruction and now she may loose her summer job if we can not get this instruction we are scrambling to get it done. Parents volunteer a lot to make up for some of cutbacks as well. I have seen many good teachers but just as many teachers head out and don’t let the door hit them at three o’clock. I understand the class composition frustration but I am sick and tired of hearing how poorley the teaching profession is treated!! The government and the teachers union are holding parents and students hostage. I pay for tutors and extra help for my child and volunteer many hours for extra curricula events. I think the public system structure is flawed and needs to be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up and work toward a progressive solution putting student needs first. If teachers are stressed try working in the private sector it is just as stressful. The cost of living goes up for everyone and I would love a nice retirement package full benefits and a three percent raise over a three year period, let alone 14 percent!

      4. I’m not sure what you expect teachers to do. The government broke the law, got caught and told to fix it, didn’t fix it, and then did it again. I don’t know what your job is, but imagine if your employer forced you to work overtime for no pay. It would be illegal. That is exactly what they’ve done to teachers. Furthermore, they have ensured that our wage has not increased for the past three years, and that our overall income is a full 15% below inflation. You’re tired of teachers complaining? Well I’m tired of being dumped on by the government. I am not a monk. The students are NOT the most important thing in my life. I, like you, need to find balance in my life, and I need to make a living.

        “Holding kids hostage” is a disingenuous metaphor. Just because my work is with kids, I have to just accept this treatment? When a union withdraws service, people get inconvenienced. That is the ONLY leverage the union has. That’s how it works. It’s amazing how fast Christy Clark flew in to the truckers dispute when there was a possibility that money would be affected, but she sure hasn’t taken much interest when it’s your kid who is affected.

        You’re yelling at the wrong person. We are NOT ALLOWED to work during lunch hour. The government was so bent on getting our 10% to punish us that they never thought it through. I guess they thought there’d be no consequence to locking us out and docking our pay.

      5. No one said that the students or your profession must be the most important aspect of your life. I often work overtime to ensure my job is done to the best of my ability and no I do not get paid for it. I do not agree with some of the working conditions a teacher has to endure, but I do disagree with continuous wage increases when the job is not being completed. Our Education service is essential to create our future generation to run this province when our turn has passed. What are we showing them this is how to resolve conflict walk out or lock out. I do not agree with an across the board wage increase. If we had continuous job review panels and accountability for our educators to receive increases when earned. Nothing is free. Unfortunately like any system you have those who follow and abide by the rules and put in that extra effort who genuinely deserve an increase in wage, and those who don’t and abuse the system and get a wage increase anyways. This is the nature of the beast . I know the private sector doesn’t get a wage increase every year to coincide with inflation or the cost of living. It relates to job performance and evaluation for each individual. It also doesn’t include that as soon as I complete my masters degree will I automatically get a wage increase. Like I said the structure is flawed but instead of correcting and addressing some internal flaws and being accountable internally, it has become a battle of us versus them and neither side is right and the students are the ones who are suffering.

      6. Not a chance. To take those jobs would make them scabs and no union member would make that mistake.

    2. People who quit their jobs don’t get EI, and I would be shocked if the labour board had much sympathy for that many people throwing a tantrum and screwing the kids they profess to have so much concern for.

  4. If you’re going to debunk myths, you should get your stats right. B.C.’s teachers are not the second lowest paid in the nation. If you go by the starting wage, B.C. teachers are 9th. However, if you go by the highest tier on the salary grid, B.C. teachers move to 4th.

    1. I believe my stats are correct. You may disagree, but please watch your tone. Your, “If you’re going to debunk…” lead-in sounds a bit derisive. (Maybe I’m just being sensitive?) I’ve already deleted a comment that supported my thesis because it was insulting to someone. Let’s have respectful debate. I’ll be looking more closely at statistics after I’m done licking my wounds over the LRB ruling. Thank you for your comment.

      1. I have friends and family in the teaching profession, I have to say this is a heated argument at any BBQ. I just have a few points that I would like addressed. I work in the private sector and in the last five years I have had a wage increase of 1.5% I get a basic benefit package and no retirement package. I have a post secondary education as well. I can be fired or let go for poor job performance and I have certain standard of work I am accountable for. Here is my point what makes a public sector job entitled to a wage increase, if the company I work for makes a profit I am rewarded, if continued profits I get an increase. I have to wait out the storm or move on if I want different or better compensation packages. Should this not be fair public or private.
        Children educated today should drive economy and be successful to support future generations not generations past. How can these students excel when they are dragged into a political debate between union and government. My daughter is 17, in her math class their are 17 students and only 8 textbooks. Is their a ratio or standard for basic equipment required. I pay school fees every year to have this provided.
        Today they wanted to walk out and exercise their right to protest their mistreatment in this job action only to be instructed if they walk out they will face suspension and not be able to participate in Grad ceremonies. I as a parent was outraged. This is what we are teaching our future leaders? These students will take care of you in your retirement. My child has had to ask me to sit in class to evaluate her teachers performance? This certain education professional could not assist on provincial final exam prep as he did not understand or communicate the composition of a grade 11 provincial exam. I was shocked and hired a private tutor. Mine as well as other parents complaints fell on deaf ears. This man still teaches. Where is the accountability when 85% of the students failed the provincial exam? Then to say all educators we are entitled to a wage increase? Maybe entitled is the wrong choice of words I am sure I could have chosen a better one, but I (a non union private employee) would have been let go with a 15% success rate .
        I have met excellent educators who treat their students like their own and others who sit in class and text and ask the student if they are heading to Starbucks could they pick up a coffee for them as well. I would be in full support of a 20% increase to education budget if it went to the students. For example text books, educator performance evaluation, extra curricular support (sports or arts), educator awards for recognition of their efforts in educating our future leaders.
        I am a parent; accountable for my choices and instruction of my child. I am employee accountable for my job performance, and as a public education supporter I have the right to request how my tax payer dollars are being spent. But I can not support a union fighting for wage increases first and student needs and wants second. Take wage increases off the table and ask for 14% over three years for resources and I would support this action.
        As one student stated ” I feel like a child of divorce with two parents fighting for????? while I am to suffer with no input into how my needs or wants are met?” We, as a society, have lost sight of the real issue, educating, promoting and preparing our children for their future.

  5. This is ridiculous. Regardless of how much BC teachers get paid compared to other Canadian teachers, the comparison should be with other BC jobs. While I support my teacher friends, in general they are making the same and often more than most of my other university-educated, similarly-experienced friends in IT, marketing, sales, retail and most industries. And they get about 4x more paid holidays (or if you want to call their holidays unpaid, then they are really getting a fantastic wage) than all my friends. And they get fantastic pension and other benefits. And their hours even when working are not nearly as long as a regular work day for regular working people.

    Yes, there are problems with the system. Just like every job has it’s own issues. But there are fantastic benefits as well. If teachers have an issue, I suggest they go get a real job working for a real company and then they will realize how good they actually have it.

    1. I caution you against using words like “ridiculous”, when commenting. No need for insults. My post is not at all ridiculous. You’re free to disagree, of course, but please stick to fact and polite debate.

      1. Respectfully, you seem to be jumping to conclusions when you assume that the ‘this is ridiculous’ comment is directed at your post rather than the situation as a whole. Which, by the way, IS ridiculous to many of the hardworking Canadians all over the country who are watching this mess unfold.

    2. Get a “real” job for a “real” company? Did you actually just degrade teachers to that extent ? Who are you to make such a dissrespectful comment.

      1. Hum, I know a lot of people who work in IT, Sales, Marketing, etc. who get paid more than I do and don’t take their work home with them. My sister works in public relations and is enjoying her $65,000 salary. She works hard, as do I. Yet, I make $30,000 for a three day a week position as a Learning Assistance Teacher with a caseload of 40+ complex children who require me to create individualized plans and programs, assess and report 3 times a year, plus meet with parents, psychologists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, counsellors, administrators on a weekly basis. My days often begin at 7:30 am and end at 5-6pm at night plus the extra time I put in on weekends. I teach on call the other days of the week if I get called. It took me over 5 years to get this position after teaching on call the first two years, perhaps a day or two a week. If I didn’t have my husband to support me, I would have had to leave my profession like my other colleagues did and gone on to the private sector, which perhaps now in our current situation, I should have. In saying this, we are all hard working people and should consider standing together to press against a government who has blatantly spat on the law and is threatening each child’s right to a fair and equitable education.

    3. My teaching week is easily 60+ hours (more during report card writing) so I’m really not sure what you’re talking about as far as working not nearly as long as regular people (who I assume work a 40 hour week.). To belittle the career of an educator by suggesting they get a “real job” for a “real company” is revealing your ignorance. Does a person at this “real job” arrive early or stay late to volunteer time to benefit their clients? Because my track practices start at 8:00 (which is why I arrive at 7:20 to get started on my work.). I assist with Student Council at lunch and go on an annual over night field trip to support our social studies program (where I am working for 36 straight.) Does someone at their “real job” use their own money to provide for their working environment? I have purchased novels, art supplies, science materials, extra school supplies and more for my student. Does the person at their “real job” sacrifice wage increases for better working conditions for their clients? Because teachers did just that only to have the BC Liberals remove the class size and composition clauses from the collective agreement (which, as it turns out, was illegal.). Putting money into public education benefits society as a whole. Early intervention and assistance for students with learning difficulties, behaviour challenges, or anxiety disorders is a worthy investment, although it is years before society reaps the rewards with contributing citizens. The erosion of the public education system is being felt now, by teachers like myself who have been teaching for 15-20 years. Students who used to receive support now get nothing. Children with Asbergers and autism are receving a fraction of the support time they need down from a full-time aide to 90 minutes a week) and there will be even less time for them in the coming year. This on top of split classes with 30 students, many who are new to English, means it is becoming overwhelming to meet the needs of all students. Teaching is a calling. I love my students and the work I do with them. I am willingly to fight to prevent the systematic dismantling of the public education system. Your’re welcome.

  6. Statement #2 is not quite accurate. Province-wide bargaining was introduced in the early 1990s by the Harcourt government. Before it was introduced I was part of a union group making a pre-budget presentation to then Finance Minister, Glen Clark. During the conversation I asked him directly if the government was going to introduce province-wide bargaining. His answer was astounding. “If I can find more money for school boards they will just piss it away on teachers’ salaries.”
    Otherwise all of the myths reported are accurate.

    1. Thanks for this information. It was my understanding that although province-wide bargaining had been brought in ( Was it ’94?), there were many local contracts to settle out before it could come into effect in practice. I’ll research this a little further. Thanks again.

  7. While most teachers go into teaching not for the money, there definitelt are people who go into teaching because once they get into the BCTF, they dont need to try any more. It is the inability to get rid of those teachers that is giving the BCTF a black eye. Until the BCTF finds a way to get rid of that incompetency, there will always be a mistrust on teachers even though a majority are truly fighting for the right causes

    1. John, I can tell you as a teacher who has taught “Within and Without the Union” (the title of one of my posts), you’ve got it wrong. Incompetence has nothing to do with the union. If fact, my perception has been the opposite. However, I’ve definitely heard the narrative by non-unionists and anti-unionists that the union protects incompetence. This is not true.

      You may be interested in reading this letter sent to the Province by an ex-colleague of mine.

      1. The union does protect incompetence. Teachers who verbally abuse students get suspended not fired. As a teacher I am appauled by the crap I see other teachers get away with. It is a black eye in my opinion.

      2. Doesnt your ex-collegue use the same word, incompetent?

        Look, for the most part, I know there are many, many teachers who love what they do and pour heart and soul into the kids. Ive seen teachers go above and beyond their normal duties to help kids pass calculus. Ive also seen the many coaches and volunteers for extra curicular activites, who teach students many life skills. For these teachers, you deserve many of tbe things you are fighting for.

        However, I have also seen teachers (and I believe someone else also commented about this) who are lazy, have stopped caring, or just plain incompetent. I could be wrong, but it seems teachers being fired for being bad at teaching is an extreme rarity.

        So then heres the hard part, as a parent and taxpayer, how can I fully support the BCTF’s fight when theres a chance that my children may end up with one of these lazy, incompetent teachers? There are no evaluations done on teachers after they get in, so essentially no accountability.

        I get that the education system is flawed, but there are many elements within the BCTF that are flawed as well. Unless the BCTF is willing to look at a way to hold teachers accountable, I cant fully back the BCTF. All I am going to do is hope my children never gets one of these incompetent teachers and save up money for private tutors in case they do.

      1. But thanks to the BCTF due process is a nightmare. I am a teacher and I know a few principals who have stated its easier to ignore a bad teacher than it is to fire them. How sad is that?

      2. I am well aware that there is a very clear process for employers to deal with teachers who need support to improve their practice, or discipline or removal from the public school house. The problem is that most principals don’t want to rock the boat as they are concerned that if they discipline/remove one teacher, they will lose the respect of the rest of their teaching staff and therefore be unable to enact other important educational changes. Ironically, because the vast majority of teachers are very hard working (like most other professions there are only a very few rotten eggs), they would like to see the dead and rotten wood removed.

      3. I agree with Jesseca Blanca’s comment that the process is clear on how the Employer can deal with a “bad teacher”. Of course, the first step is centered around providing the teacher with support and helping them improve their teaching, and usually once the teacher is under review and being evaluated, with support, they do improve. I have seen teachers make remarkable changes. I have also seen one fired, even after going through the whole process.

        I disagree, however, with Jesseca Blanca’s comment that “principals don’t want to rock the boat” and that they would “lose the respect of the rest of their teaching staff” should they fire a staff member. Teachers are not allowed to evaluate each other, but believe me, no one is better at sniffing out a “bad teacher” than other teachers. We hear and see each other teach and we hear students and parents talking, and we know when a staff-member is doing a bad job, and we want them to improve or be fired- they make all of us look bad! But, I repeat, this situation is VERY RARE.

        Principals are also overburdened with work and demands, and pressured by the underfunded Education System, and many are probably just dealing with what they can, top-priority first, like we all do, and they might just not have time to walk by or visit classrooms to check out their staff’s teaching, and if they do know about a sub-standard teacher, they might just not be able to find the time to deal with it and find time for following the evaluation and review process-these things take time, which is short!

        We CANNOT, however, blame the BCTF. The Union’s role is to protect teachers rights and to make sure that the Employer follows process with proper evidence found and documented of any ‘questionable’ teacher’s faults. Without the BCTF, the Employer could fire someone because they don’t like their hair or their voice, or ’cause they’d like to give the job to their friend, or other arbitrary reasons!

      4. In response to Tom, those principal’s response is sad, and so is yours. You should be criticizing those principals for being lazy or for not caring about the school, the students, and Education’s reputation, and for not doing THEIR job. The process is not a nightmare, it is designed in a particular way to try to help teachers improve (whose practice has probably deteriorated as a result of terrible working conditions and the stress associated with that!) first, and to fire as a last resort, which it should be!

      5. My experience is that principals are victims of the same underfunding the whole system faces. They simply do not have time to do the number of teacher evaluations that need to be done. This causes a situation n which an incompetent teacher is not helped or fired and is allowed to continue on.

        I should mention that in my experience, abject incompetence is exceedingly rare. Lee must always be aware that teaching and learning are personal and therefore emotional ventures. Often it’s hard to see the ought the emotions to objectively evaluate. Evaluation is best arrived at through observation and discussion with the principal.

        One last thing: if parents are concerned about a teacher’s competence, they should alert the principal of the school.

  8. It’s all about priorities…priority #1-lower taxes, priority #2-increase politician pay, priority #3-support friends in business, ….. priority #257-(let me quote pg 44 of the BC Liberal Election platform) “contribute significant funds to public education”. Teachers can’t do this alone. It takes many more voices to move public education up the priority list. This fight is not the BCTF vs Government. This is the families of BC vs the government. Teachers will support your kids. Ensure the government supports the school system.

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