With the so-called ‘negotiations’ between the provincial government and the BC Teachers’ Federation degenerating to the level of a playground fistfight, it’s time for the adults in British Columbia to step in and break it up.
Parents and children should write Education Minister Peter Fassbender, BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) CEO Michael Marchbank, BCTF President Jim Iker and their local School District Chairman and ream them out regarding the threats, counter-threats and general ugliness that is about to mar the end of the academic year. (I’ll provide their mailing addresses and e-mail addresses at the bottom of this column.)
For starters, how about some honesty from the provincial government regarding who’s negotiating with whom? Fassbender and Premier Christy Clark continue to maintain that BCPSEA is doing the negotiating when in fact BCPSEA is now a wholly owned political creature of the government with Marchbank as its appointed head. Former executives and directors of BCPSEA have been securely muzzled by Victoria since his appointment last August.
Does Alan Chell, a former vice-chairman of the BCPSEA and long-time chairman of Revelstoke’s school district, really believe that threatening teachers with salary cuts and adding further disruptions to children’s school days is a sensible and fair way to negotiate? I’ve known Alan for over a decade and I am dismayed that he and the rest of the board are being forced to keep their mouths shut. And that is what is happening. Several weeks ago I asked Alan for some comment regarding the BCTF’s strike vote and he told me he was forbidden to comment publicly. In fact, he wouldn’t even comment privately.
Meanwhile, local teachers are going absolutely nuts over the government’s response to the BCTF’s tame rotating strike. They regard it — rightly — as overt bullying and an attempt to make money by clawing back wages.
Personally, I regard the provincial governments actions and attitude as completely disrespectful of the efforts teachers make to deliver education within the context of a damaged and even — to a certain extent — dysfunctional school system. I have a close friend who is a teacher and I know how hard she labours to be as good a teacher as she can be. She routinely works 10 – 12 hour days (usually every day) during the week and spends much, sometimes even most, of her weekends at school. She spends money out of her own pocket to purchase resource materials for her class and worries about the progress of the children under her wing. She is not unique and though she despairs at the depth of the public’s ignorance about teachers’ efforts (Far too many think it’s easy [It’s not!] and that teachers get a two-month paid vacation [They absolutely do not!] every summer.) she works extremely hard and keeps her mouth shut. I have no doubt that she will be mortified to read when I have written.
Both sides, as you expect, claim to be oh-so-concerned about the children.
Me. I am very skeptical about that. Their posturing, actions and statements seem like crocodile tears.
I think they should all be sent to the corner — with dunce caps — for some much-needed time off. Failing that perhaps a complete rebuild of our obviously broken education system is in order.
I am not alone in thinking that way. Here’s what one Revelstoke woman posted on her Facebook page:
“I’m… of… the opinion the both the BCTF bargaining committee and the BCPSEA committee and any other vital government officials should all be sequestered… no cell phones, no media, no going home at night, no conjugal visits… sequestered away from all creature comforts until they solve this thing. Maybe if personal pressure and discomfort was applied, parties would be more agreeable to an agreement. Both sides need to work to find an agreeable middle and soon!
“Kind of like a jury… make a decision, and until you do, you get cafeteria food and cheap hotel rooms. Come on people, you are playing with a lot of lives! And you government types still get your salaries that had 18% increases thanks to Christy. Hey, maybe she should get to go to the party too? And maybe her wages could be rolled back 10% since she’s not really making an effort to negotiate FAIRLY.”
When it comes to the education of our children the public has an absolute right to demand better from teachers, elected officials of all kinds and the bureaucrats in Victoria.I
f you’d like to register your anger and/or unhappiness over the current state of affairs please send an e-mail or a letter to:
Premier of British Columbia
PO BOX 9041
STN PROV GOVT
VICTORIA, BC, V8W 9E1
Minister of Education
PO BOX 9045
STN PROV GOVT
VICTORIA, BC, V8W 9E2
CEO of the BC Public School Employers’ Association
This is a generic e-mail as Marchbank is surrounded by minions but does not himself appear on the BCPSEA contact page, meaning he is virtually an invisible man.
400-1333 WEST BROADWAY,
VANCOUVER, BC, V6H 4C1
President of the BC Teachers’ Federation
100 – 550 WEST 6th AVENUE,
VANCOUVER, BC, V5Z 4P2
Chairman of School District 19 (Revelstoke)
This is Alan’s own e-mail address
PO BAG 5800
501 – 11th STREET EAST
REVELSTOKE, BC, V0E 2S0