Cheryl Angst, Writer

Writer of strange tales – because no one ever accused me of being normal.

Teaching in BC February 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cheryl Angst @ 10:58 am
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I try to keep my personal politics separate from my writing career, but I am a teacher, I am a Canadian, I have a right to have my voice heard, and I cannot stand by in silence. Right now, my government is pushing legislation through to silence my voice as an advocate for public education. In a last-ditch effort to make my voice heard, I wrote a letter to my member of the legislative assembly in the hope it will be read aloud during the debate of Bill 22, and will be entered into public record.

Dear Mr. Farnworth,

I am a constituent and one of the more than 40,000 teachers whose voices will be silenced by the passing of Bill 22. While disappointed—devastated would be more accurate—I am not surprised.

In 2001, I lost my constitutional right to engage in political protest as a means of achieving a fair contract. In 2002, I lost the right to have a say in how many students would be placed in my classroom. In 2002, I also lost the right to argue for support for students with special needs. In 2005, I was told the actual number of students in my class was irrelevant so long as the district average for class size at my grade level was 30 or fewer.

I stood and fought to protect the needs of children in my care every time.

And every time, I lost.

The Supreme Court has ruled that those cuts were illegal. My fight to protect the learning conditions of the students I teach has been validated by the highest (and most impartial) body in the province. Yet, what is happening as a result of that ruling?

Nothing prior to July 1, 2013.

Why?

Because the current government needs to say they eliminated the budget deficit. It doesn’t matter how many students suffer in the meantime. It doesn’t matter how many classrooms are too crowded and have too few resources. It doesn’t matter how many students with special needs receive little or no extra help. What really matters is getting re-elected, and the government has determined that rectifying the injustice perpetrated in 2002 will cost too much money.

Flash back thirteen years:

When I started teaching, intermediate classes could not exceed thirty students and the limit for placing students with special needs in a classroom was firmly set at three. In addition, for every Ministry-funded student in the class, the cap was lowered by one, so if I had three special needs students in my class, my maximum class size was 27. At the time, it was acknowledged that these measures weren’t really sufficient to meet the needs of all students in a classroom, but would have to do given budgetary constraints and the impossibility of funding lower student-to-teacher ratios.

I accepted this. I felt my efforts to individualize instruction for all the students in my class was recognized and that my employers understood the challenges I faced in working with such a diverse group of learners within a very limited setting.

I felt valued. I felt as though my employer and I were working as a team to deliver the best possible learning experience for the students in our district.

I took lower wages during local bargaining in exchange for better learning conditions for my students. I took lower wages in exchange for better benefits for myself and my family – benefits I may never need, but am willing to take home a smaller pay cheque for, just in case I ever do. I earned less, and given that I didn’t access all the benefits I was entitled to, my employer saved money.

Flash forward to 2012:

Now, my employer has very little motivation to bargain, even over the few things still allowed to be decided at the local level, because the government has shown a willingness—nay, an enthusiasm—for legislating contracts as a means of solving problems.

I teach in a 44-year-old classroom that does not meet the minimum size requirements for a safe teaching space. My school is not earthquake safe. The ceiling tiles are falling down. The roof leaks. My blinds don’t open or close. I only have enough science textbooks for one third of my class. My school has thousands of carpenter ants nesting in the ceiling and they emerge every spring by the hundreds, writhing and falling onto the students packed into the rooms below. My school has HVAC issues. Every winter teachers have to close their classrooms and take up temporary shelter in the cafeteria and library because the furnace cannot warm certain areas of the building above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Some days there aren’t enough classrooms with heat, and students have to wear coats, hats, and gloves to class.

I don’t teach in the remote north. I teach in Port Coquitlam.

When I walked into my classroom last year, I faced thirty students across their chipped and battered desks. Six were already formally identified as having special needs. Another eight should have been (and are now in the process of being identified), and five more simply could not handle the complexity or pace of the government-mandated curriculum for their grade. All in all, I had nineteen—NINETEEN!—students on various individualized education and behaviour plans.

Who in their right mind would argue that my class was a suitable learning environment?

Well, because the district average was at or below 30, with fewer than three funded kids per division, the government said it was fine.

Fine?

I didn’t teach last year, I performed triage.

Barrie Bennett, a well-respected professor working out of OISE (the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto) once compared teaching to organizing a children’s birthday party.

He asked all the parents in the room to recall the amount of work and planning that went into the last party they planned. He listed all the things that needed to be prepared ahead of time, things like a cake, presents, goodie bags, balloons, and games. He discussed the challenges of bringing ten or twelve children into a single home for a period of three hours and keeping them suitably entertained. He had everyone visualize the clean-up at the end of the event, and most importantly, had people reflect on how they felt—tired, exhausted, relieved it was over for another year—after the event.

Barrie, eyes twinkling, then asked us to imagine hosting a birthday party, not for ten children, but for thirty. And instead of entertaining the kids for three hours, we had to do it for six. He casually said, “And instead of goody bags, you have to give tests.” There’s no cake. No games, no prizes, no clowns, no balloons. Instead there are required learning outcomes, unit plans, lesson plans, photocopying, adaptations, modifications and mountains of paperwork. Some of the guests won’t want to be there. Some are not ready to be there, and a few will come with adults who will tell you you’re doing it all wrong.

He asked us to recall those feelings of exhaustion after hosting a party again. Then he told us we’d have to do it again the next day. And the one after that. We’d have to plan and host the equivalent of one hundred and eighty parties. And remember, these aren’t parties where the kids are excited to be there, where you can whip out a clown or chocolate fountain to appease the masses. These are parties where there are tests and assignments and bullies and insufficient resources.

Barrie was talking about a typical class where less than 10% of the population is categorized as having special needs.

Last year more than half my class either held or qualified for a Ministry designation.

According to the government, this was fine because my district average fell within their guidelines.

I will never forgive the person who looked at my class composition and approved it.

And what’s worse, I will never forgive myself for being a part of the injustice perpetrated on those students. I couldn’t help every child every day. Assuming all things are equal, there are enough minutes in the day for me to spend 5 minutes talking to each student – and that’s assuming I don’t actually deliver any lessons, or you know, teach.

All things are not equal though. So if one student takes six, seven, or ten minutes out of my day, that means I don’t get to even speak to one other. I had nineteen students who could not cope without significant support. I’m an experienced teacher, but even I haven’t mastered the ability to clone myself eighteen times over in order to provide the one-on-one assistance those students needed.

Guess what? They struggled. They acted out. They disrupted the learning environment of others. The class was set up so they would fail. I was set up to fail.

Never before have classroom conditions been so atrocious.

But, I was assured it was fine because “on average” the district met the government’s guidelines.

It breaks my heart to think of the other students – the eleven who could cope. Can you imagine spending an entire year with someone and have them speak to you maybe once a week? To watch as the student who strolls in late and cannot find his homework gets the teacher’s attention and you, who are there every day and always try your best, are basically invisible because you don’t have an urgent need?

Removing class size and composition from the collective agreement was criminal.

It needs to be redressed.

The government needs to repair the damage that has been done, not cripple the system even more by stripping contracts and imposing a legislated settlement that doesn’t come close to restoring what was taken away.

I am an advocate for my students. Let me do my job. Let me tell you what my working conditions are like. Let me tell you what I need to help our children become the best and the brightest in the country. Let me help you put their needs first.

I have been told by those who are not teachers that I ask for too much. That I should be happy with the “generous” wage increases the government has given me over the years. That I am over paid and under worked. That I should be thankful I get what I get because I’d never have it so good if I had a “real” job.

I have been called lazy.

Slack.

Selfish.

Incompetent.

Not by my students or their parents, but by the government, the media, and the general public. I have listened to this message over and over again for the past thirteen years. I have tried to remain positive, to tell myself I am making a difference, that what I do matters.

Does it?

I am no longer sure.

Actually, that’s not true. I know what I do matters. What I no longer believe is that anyone else cares.

Public education is not about an altruistic belief in learning for learning’s sake. It no longer exists because it is an essential component of maintaining and improving a democratic society. It is not about preparing our youth for the future.

It is about free childcare.

Firefighters are an essential service. Police officers. Paramedics. These are highly trained professionals who have to be available 24/7 because accidents, crimes, and illness don’t work nine to five.

Education is valuable.

Is every minute essential?

The government says it is. They argue that students will be harmed if they miss even a single day due to teachers walking off the job – that’s what essential service legislation boils down to.

Yet, even a former premier used to pull his children from classes for family vacations! How can it be illegal for me to protest my horrific working conditions in defence of my students, but it is absolutely fine for parents to take their kids out for days, weeks, sometimes even months at a time? If it is illegal for me to deprive students of their right to an education, then it should be illegal for parents to do so too.

To argue otherwise is to admit the essential service designation is a hypocritical piece of politicking designed for the purpose of weakening teacher’s ability to bargain for a fair contract – or that it’s a PR gesture to buy parental support because it’s painfully hard to find affordable child care in this province.

Speaking of child care, why doesn’t the government tell parents schools are actually open during a withdrawal of services? If parents cannot find suitable care for their children during a walkout, they can still drop their children off at school. The administrators have to report for work, and they’re not bound by any class size or composition rules – they could supervise the entire school population in the gymnasium if need be.

THE. SCHOOLS. ARE. OPEN.

YOUR CHILDREN CAN STILL BE SAFE.

If more parents were aware of this fact, no family would have to experience stress and financial hardship as a result of any job action, and teachers would still have a tool in their arsenal for bringing their employer to the table.

The current Minister of Education is arguing that the job action I have engaged in over the past six months is harming our students. I would argue it’s benefiting them. Instead of dealing with paperwork for the office, instead of being bombarded with administrivia, my entire day is focused on teaching my students.

The Minister has argued that the lack of report cards is harming students. He has argued that students have failed courses and will not graduate because teachers haven’t issued report cards. He has publicly stated parents have contacted him, telling him they had no idea what was going on in their child’s class because report cards weren’t issued.

I have several issues with this line of reasoning.

One, why aren’t parents contacting teachers during the semester and, are instead, contacting the Minister of Education after the fact? Really? That’s like driving your car for over a year without taking it in for maintenance then phoning the president of the car company when the mechanic tells you your brakes need changing.

Teachers only refused to write report cards, we didn’t stop communicating with parents. Did these parents ask to see their child’s graded assignments and tests during the semester? Did they not think it odd if the child either wouldn’t show them, or said they hadn’t had any tests?

Parents want to trust their children, but if a child says they’re doing well and then brings home a failing grade, how is that the teacher’s fault? The assignments were marked – that’s communication. Tests were graded – that’s communication. If a student hides the failing evidence from his/her parent, the teacher shouldn’t be to blame. Short of driving to every student’s home and hand-delivering the assignments, there’s only so much we can do if parents don’t reach out too.

If, as a parent, you feel you aren’t being adequately informed about your child’s progress, you have a right to contact the teacher and request a meeting to get the information you need. You can have a meeting in person, over the phone, or even via email. This applies at any point in the school year, regardless of whether or not teachers are engaging in job action.

Two, once the report card goes home, it’s too late. The student has already failed the course by this point. A report card is a summative document that summarizes what occurred during a semester or term. It is issued at the end of the course/term. Anyone who thinks a report card would have prevented a student from failing has their timelines mixed up.

Students are not failing because report cards aren’t going home. Students are failing because they haven’t done their homework. (Or it’s because the system is failing them, but I already covered that earlier.)

I think the lack of formal reporting has been incredibly beneficial. Parents who would never contact me in the past—or only swoop in after a report card was issued and demand to know why certain grades were assigned—are taking a more active interest in their children’s progress. The parents of students in my class are asking their children what they’re learning. They’re asking to see the planner (homework organizer), and they’re asking to see completed assignments and tests.

The parents of students in my class are becoming active partners in their child’s learning. This government purports to put families first. The sorts of discussions happening in the homes around the province as parents actively seek to understand what is going on in their child’s life is just the sort of thing the government should be encouraging, not legislating an end to.

Oh, and because I am not spending hours counting money, or making lists of locker numbers and combinations, or collecting vaccination forms, or handing out photo orders, or alphabetizing student information verification sheets, or counting the chairs in my room for inventory, I actually have time at the end of the day to do the most important thing of all: talk with parents about their children.

I am a teacher.

I have always put my students first.

I matter.

My students matter.

Please, I implore you, do not let the government demean me and the services I provide even further by passing Bill 22. There is another way. There always is.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Yours in Education,

Cheryl Angst.

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818 Responses to “Teaching in BC”

  1. johnwhitelaw Says:

    Cheryl,I have just read your comments. I reitred after 34 years of teaching in Abbotsford. I was always active in the union. I also coached numerous sport teams and directed musicals. I loved teaching grade fives because of their sense of social justice.I feel open hostility towards the government’s positions because of their insensitivy and disrespect. I wish the BCTF(all teachers) including you success. Remember that not all of the electorate support the lack of principles displayed by certain members of the public and the governing party. I cannot refer to them as liberals

    • Brian Says:

      Wow! Great letter Cheryl. I really hope it gets read aloud.

      • Cheryl Angst Says:

        Thanks, Brian! I’m going to listen to the debate–who knew the legislature live feed could be so exciting–to see if I really do have a voice.

      • Tony Chung Says:

        I read portions aloud at breakfast this morning. I admire your dedication, and the dedication of our kids’ teachers over the past number of years.

        This year my grade 5 son is in a class with 21 other boys around the same age. The remaining 8 are girls. The school system is not built to handle the budding testosterone of boys entering puberty. He is falling behind because he is one of the quiet ones, and does not pose an immediate threat.

        I hope the government smartens up, and the BCTF will respond professionally to gain the public’s favour. Back in 2001 I worked for HEU during a time where our representative sold us out at a cost of 15% of our wage and the loss of our entire cleaning staff to outside contractors.

        The problem is most politicians can afford to send their kids to private schools, so they think if parents are not happy with the school system then thy should just do likewise. or at least enlist external services to support their kids’ education.

        Keep it on.

      • Dionne Says:

        I am not a teacher, but I am however Canadian, and a parent and believe like you do that I have a right to have my voice heard. I have read your letter and find it interesting that much of it is directed to how parents and the public perceive what is going on. That we (the parents) are not educated and aware of the conditions that you as teachers and our children are facing. You are not alone in what is happening.

        I have 4 children who attend 3 different schools in our district. My children are all very different in their learning abilities, as are all children. Over the years I have been faced with many concerns with each of them. I have gone in to put out fires, offer my assistance as well as listen to excuses as to why they are not be educated Why so many are falling behind, why your job is so much more difficult than so many others. You compare your job to and it’s challenges to planning a children’s birthday party, really? I have watched our employees build a 100′ retaining wall in 30 degree heat, one 25 lbs brick at a time, I wonder how many teachers have tried that, not once but everyday all summer long. I am guessing very few as you have 2 months off in the summer. I’ll take planning a birthday party any day. There are many difficult jobs out there, yours included, but most of us trudge along the best that we can trying to make ends meet.

        To say that as parents we haven’t contacted the teachers or made an effort where our children are concerned simply isn’t accurate. It is just difficult for some parents to get time off during the day to get in to see you during instructional time. As a parent I find it very offensive the way you have portrayed us. We care but are frustrated as well.

        I tutor kids after school and am constantly asked why our kids are so far behind other countries, even provinces (in case you aren’t aware Canada generally finds itself two years below the international grade level). You cannot tell me that there aren’t other countries in the world faced with similar issues, class sizes etc. In fact the countries with the largest class sizes in the world (Asia) are at the top of the academic scale, how are they able to achieve this? My daughter who is in high school, was in a math class where over 50% of kids were failing! I was told that it was due to the economic profile of the students, again students in India who are faced with very difficult economic conditions are also at the top academically. I had one parent recently explain the she felt like she had been “spanked” after speaking with her son’s teacher. That unless she found outside help, he would not pass. I am not sure how we have landed in this situation where no one is interested in helping each other, in working towards a common goal: educating our children . It has become a game of assigning blame, which I am tired of being a part of, I am TIRED. Tired out paying for a tutor so that my son can stay in public school, tired of feeling guilty about all that the teachers have to endure on my (and my children’s) behalf, tired of trying to figure out how to help my kids succeed in a system that no longer seems interested in trying to educate, only to pass them to the next grade. As a parent, you are almost scared to ask a teacher anything for fear of having to listen to the rant that is sure to follow. As parents, contrary to what you said we are not looking for free childcare, what we want is for our children to be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide. To know what a noun and verb is and how to use them. Really at this point our hopes really are not that high, and in the end I have taught my kids those basic things as I cannot bear to think that they won’t have these skills at the end. I am sure that you are good at your job and that you obviously care about education and the system, but like in any job there are those who are not like you. I have had may teachers who are not good at what they do and my children have paid the price for that. Just like you, as parents, we are trying our best to help and support not only our children, but you the teachers, but it is hard.

      • Amanda Says:

        I’m actually replying to Dionne’s post below:
        I don’t understand how a person can compare so many vastly different scenarios to each other. For example, comparing teaching to building a retaining wall in heat. You are comparing physical labour to mental labour. You are grasping at straws. No one is saying teaching is harder than any other job. They are saying it is hard to do their job effectively, which is teaching by the way, because the wrong tools are in place. Yes, a very well known educator and speaker compared teaching to planning a birthday party, as a metaphor. Not a direct comparison.
        You also cannot compare the Canadian education systems to other countries. Well you can if you like, but then question why so many immigrants choose to have their children educated here. If you would like your children to be educated they way they are in India in China, go right ahead. In these countries parents beat them if they fail, or get below 80%, take away their free speech and imagination. Parents also teach these children respect for their elders and respect for education; respect for teachers. The military rigidity of these countries in terms of education does go a long way, but if any teacher dared to discipline the way these countries discipline their young we would face worse issues about democracy and human rights. These countries also very strictly teach mostly core subjects because that is where their values are. Canadian schools offer art, wood working, health, music, band, and many other courses to create well rounded human beings. Many teachers would love a classroom as disciplined as a classroom in China, but at what cost?
        Do you think that you are the voice for all parents? Do all parents sit up at night helping their children learn and understand verbs and nouns? If these families come from low “economic profile” it’s likely that these children get very little help from home. That’s not to say the parents don’t have the desire to help their children. Some parents don’t have time or even know how. And yes, there are parents who simply do not care.
        Do you think it is the teachers’ who want to pass children on to the next grade? And do these teachers have any say in how the system works? Teachers want the best for all children, they really do. They don’t want to get to the end of the year to pass them on, often they have absolutely no choice. It was the parents decision that holding children back is harder on them socially and damages their self esteem. It is also ultimately a parents decision to hold a child back a grade.
        If you come at any person barking the way you did in your post I would expect someone may bark back. If you are afraid to approach a teacher, this could be the case. We are all human beings here, capable of reason. I dare say teacher may be apprehensive to deal with parents who are very quick to assign the “teachers not working hard enough, easy job” excuse in their direction.
        Finally, yes there are bad teachers. That is because there is a system in place where teachers gain permanent positions. This is unfortunate, because there are many good teachers out there who struggle to gain reliable and consistent work while these so called bad teachers still teach. But there are also bad doctors and bad lawyers. There are bad priests. There are also bad parents.

        I’m sorry Cheryl, for writing such a long post that isn’t even in reply to yours. Your post was fantastic, and I hope it gains the attention it deserves.

    • Karyn, sd43 teacher Says:

      Thank you. Thanks for your skill of writing and putting it do perfectly. I hope it’s ok, I have sent the link to this to everyone and my Facebook status as well. It pretty much brought me to tears. Thank you.

      • Cheryl Angst Says:

        Thank you for sharing my words with others. I really hope my MLA will do the same.

      • Katie Says:

        I just want to address Dionnne’s comments. I have been both a teacher and worked for a general contractor building houses so I feel qualified to speak to both. I have slaved in 40 degree heat from 6am to 6pm, pushed my body to limits I didn’t even know were possible all while dealing with a demanding boss and clients who didn’t understand. I have also walked in to a classroom packed with children with varying degrees of needs and learning abilities. I can say there is no comparison. At the end of the day, the tough physically demanding labour was possible to do, which is more than I can say for what our teachers face on a daily basis. As a parent, I realize I hold responsibility to support our teachers in what they need to provide for my children. I have met teachers who were just showing up and doing a sub par job, but I have also watched my father for 20+ years fight day in and day out for his students against a government that refuses to address the important issues. This NEEDS to change and we all need to come together in support for our teachers and children.

      • Norm Says:

        I work for the private sector and if I am unhappy about my raise or working conditions I can vocalize my concerns, but at the end of the day I have two choices make the best of it or quit. I know many in the teaching profession and I often hear how teachers recycle the same learning plans year in and year out. So I don’t buy the notion that “most” teachers put in countless hours lesson planning, maybe they do the first year or two. I believe teachers are adequately paid for the amount of hours they work. I wish I had over two months off every year and guaranteed holidays during Christmas and Easter.

      • Scott Says:

        For Norm,

        It is so easy to say “I know a lot of teachers” or “many teachers” and then add whatever derogatory comment you want. Think, before making such ridiculous statements, what kind of pool of information am I basing this comment on? Is it word of mouth from a few teachers friends? Did they tell you a story about a teacher or two that were terrible? Fact is, you are likely basing these comments on a small fraction of a huge pool of teachers in the province.

        Here are some statements for you based on actual numbers. I am a teacher and have taught at 4 different elementary schools in my district. Thinking back to my experience at each of those schools, some with larger staffs and some with smaller, I can break it down to a percentage for you: 90%. I would say for every 10 teachers I met or worked with, I would find one I would say was ‘just putting in the time’ or doing the bare minimum. I call it riding the lazy train to retirementville. That means about 90% of the teachers I have met or worked with are truly dedicated, professional individuals. And by the way, if teachers are recycling the same lesson plans year after year, why is this seen as a negative? If they are good lesson plans, then would it not seem logical to keep using them?

        People that criticize teachers continue referring to the wage demands and summers off. Are you not listening? Did you read Cheryl’s letter? These really dedicated teachers I mentioned above are fighting so hard because we take pride in our jobs. We know that this new ‘education improvement plan’ will make us less effective teachers. The more students you fit into a class, the less individual time we can spend with each one. Factor in special needs and at risk students, who demand more time than average, and it leaves you with even less time for each individual. It’s simple math really. I look at the individual faces in my class right now and I know can’t just give up. I can’t just roll over and embrace this newest legislation. Doing so would be admitting I was okay with lowering my standards for the quality of education I provide for the students in my class.

        So please, there could be anywhere from 500 to 2000 teachers in the district you live in. There are 40,000 teachers in the province. Don’t base a comment on a few stories you’ve heard from people you know involved in education.

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      Thank you! It is so hard to remember there really are others out there who support teachers when we’re bombarded with negative press all the time. Your support means a lot. Thank you.

      • Libby Says:

        I am a new teacher, and slowly but surely this blog post is being circulated around facebook by my colleagues. You have said it so well for all of us, and I personally have had similar experience in the classroom which has me worrying about the future standards of our education system. Thank you!

      • Jon Says:

        Despite the educational challenges we are facing as a province, Canada is still doing better than most of the G12 countries:

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/dec/07/world-education-rankings-maths-science-reading

        On a separate note, I am in my 6th year of teaching high school,with a completely different teaching load each year. This year has been my most challenging. In my seven teaching blocks I am teaching: Applied Skills 8, Special Ed. Technology, Electronics 9, Electronics 11, Engineering 11, Drafting 9, Drafting 10, ESL Reading, and ESL Writing. I haven’t complained much; I just try to do the best with the load I’ve been given, notwithstanding the amount of special needs students I have in half of the classes without support staff (the only class I have support in is in my Special Ed. Tech class); notwithstanding ESL is comprised of students who are reading and writing at three different levels (at least); notwithstanding my budget is getting small each year; and notwithstanding I have one prep block to do all the typical tasks teachers perform (marking, photocopying) in addition to the repairing, ordering, and stocking – and the government wants a net-zero mandate!? I empathize and applauded every teacher who is able to do their job despite these conditions!

    • Nancy Snowden Says:

      Wow, Cheryl. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Every parent needs to see this!

    • Maria Petrucci Says:

      Is there not a facebook/email mass letter campaign that can be started or has started to let the average citizen protest by writing a letter to the government? Like the environmentalits and humanitarians do!

    • Dan Soberg Says:

      Well written. Your classroom conditions sound impossible. Are they still changing report card formats every couple of years? It is always good to vent. I also am a retired teacher…….loved the energy of teaching grade 4/5……but I don’t miss any of the political battles. Where is the Port Coquitlam School Board in all this? It’s too bad that they can’t help improve learning conditions by advocating for their students and teachers. Good luck.

      • You fuck off you ignoramus. You obviously do not have the intelligence to one, understand the issue at hand and two, are too stupid to even come up with a cohesive argument or statement that even pertains to the debate. The main problem with cutting funding and reducing the quality of education in this country is that we end up with a disproportionate number of morons like yourself. I realize I have used quite a few words containing more than one syllable so if you are having difficulty, you can always consult your dictionary, you never know, you might actually LEARN something.
        To finish off, I FULLY support the teachers! More money, smaller class sizes, more help, more resources, more of EVERYTHING! Having an under-educated population leads, inevitably (and this has been proven time and time again) to unemployment, low voting attendance, domestic instability and social ignorance.

    • Fuck OFF Says:

      Go work a job full time! fuck you guys get too much vacation time…!
      Go fuck work full time and you will get paid accordingly.

      • Amanda Says:

        I am so sick of hearing this comment. Yes, teachers get 2 months off in the summer but this is two months of unpaid time. It’s not like they are sitting around doing nothing while getting paid. Many teachers have to find part time work during these months just to get by. People who make comments like this are uneducated and you come off as ignorant.

      • M. Says:

        As someone who got into teaching late and having had many full time jobs in other sectors before teaching, I can honestly say that teaching IS, without a doubt, one of the most exhausting, full-time jobs out there – despite the “holidays.” You need to remember we are not dealing with “things” we are dealing with human lives and they don’t get checked at the door when we leave. Do you think this blogger is just leaving her job, forgetting about work? She is beside herself and her concern and desperation to fix her situation for the benefit of her students is all-consuming. Can you say the same about your “full-time job” potty mouth? Until you’ve walked in someone else’s shoes, your comment comes across as juvenile.

      • UncleDaler Says:

        If you had the education that teachers are fighting for, we wouldn’t have to put you in prison for your moronic behavior.

        Yes, Yes, I know I’m going to have to help you with the big words.

        Education: what you will never have.
        Teacher: what you will never be
        Fighting: What we will arrest you for next Saturday
        Prison: home
        Moronic: Sorry, this ones over your head

      • K.Knowlan Says:

        Wow pal, I can totally understand where you’re coming as I’m also a hard workin blue collar guy myself. After reading your very well written and well thought out post it’s clear to me that you were subjected to overcrowed classrooms and never got the help you so desperately required. Don’t allow the wrongs of your past cloud your vision for the future, support the teachers now so our next generation has a fighting chance!

      • Jason P Says:

        I know I shouldn’t laugh, but this was funny to read, especially UncleDaler, hahaha

    • Terry Says:

      Fabulous letter, Cheryl. It capsulizes what we, as teachers, are all feeling. I am also left feeling grateful that I don’t have the working conditions you are suffering with. And isn’t that pathetic……..that any B.C. teachers or students should be required to live with those kind of environmental issues on a daily basis? But I also have a broader sense of outrage and despair when considering the upcoming Bill 22 …….an insidious piece of legislation if ever there was one. I am close to retirement and can’t help thinking (often) that I won’t have to work within such a broken system for much longer. If it wasn’t for the kids, I’d have quit long ago!! Keep writing and voicing your thoughts…..you are good at it!

  2. Caroline Says:

    Very, very well written! Did it/will it get read?

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      It hasn’t been read yet, but debate on Bill 22 won’t start until tomorrow at the earliest. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my voice will be heard.

      • Kim Says:

        It would be my opinion that it would be irresponsible for the government not to take you well worded response/facts into consideration!!! I am very supportive as my children are just starting school. I hope you are successful and I plan to stand with the teachers if I can!!! I will even bring my kids if I have to… just to show my support!!! :)

  3. Michelle Says:

    Cheryl, a fantastic blog post about the current state of our classrooms. I sure hope it gets read out!

  4. Lisa Says:

    THANK YOU! Can you send this to the paper? A colleague in PoCo.

  5. Preach it! Thank You! Very cathartic to read aloud at the top of my voice.

  6. JC Says:

    Cheryl, I`ve been teaching as long as you and absolutely concur. Your situations are NOT unique. They are happening everywhere. While I teach secondary, we too have problems with class composition that are similar to yours, except we only get to spend 77 minutes every two days with each of our seven classes. Try giving individual support with that… it`s impossible. Well, if my class was composed of even thirty students who all had perfect attendance, excellent work habits, fabulous listening, organisational, and collaborative skills, stable home lives, economic comfort, adequate nutrition and sleep… oh and no learning concerns or anxiety issues, teaching would be the breeze that everyone assumes it is. But it`s not. We live in the real world. And we need real support. Not bullying.

  7. Myriam Says:

    Thank you for writing this. I also feel your frustration and wish we teachers could be heard.

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      It’s hard to believe, I know because I didn’t think we had a voice at all, but teachers do have a voice. Right now people are talking about my letter, about the letters others have written, and they’re sharing their feelings of frustration and injustice. No matter how great the opposition, we have to keep speaking – we have to keep saying the words that need to be heard. One day, someone will listen.

  8. gen Says:

    Thank-you. Well said.

  9. Lisa Says:

    This is exactly how I feel. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

  10. J.F. Says:

    Cheryl,
    I hope you send this to all the local papers. It deserves to be published. A colleague in SD43. :)

  11. Eleana Says:

    Thank-you for your heartfelt words. It echoes my sentiments exactly. A colleague in SD 43

  12. Ivy Charyna Says:

    Ivy in SD36 says “Thank you for a well-written, informative letter. Teachers feel violated by our government. We need to continue to stand up and protest for our rights!!

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      Ivy, I think “violated” is a particularly apt description. How else do you explain the feelings of stunned helplessness, and of being left to wonder, “What did I do to deserve this?”

      • Alvin Says:

        Cheryl,

        I agree with almost everything you said in your blog, but don’t get dragged in to having this action being identified as “Teachers standing up and protesting for YOUR rights. Make sure everyone knows that it is the students rights you are protecting. If government, teachers, parents, students and the general public are thinking students rights, you have a chance at being heard. Keep everything in the context of the students. Don’t get bogged down with summers off, who works harder, lazy parents, bad teachers, day care, etc. Everyone in the system (government, teachers, parents, and all tax payers) have to listen and understand the problem and everone be ready to accept the solution. No sacred cows! Everyone has to held accountable or it won’t be fixed.

  13. Christina Ross Says:

    thank you for a well written letter stating the facts that you, the teacher has to face.
    I was just at a friend’s house for dinner and found myself defending the position that you have stated so well in your letter.
    I hope somehow I can send your letter on to my friend and that he will read it, thank you again, from this parent, grandparent and great grandparent who supports your position 100%
    Christina in Victoria

  14. Michele Says:

    Cheryl;
    You have put into words what so many of us are experienceing and feeling. Thank you!

  15. Jill Wight Says:

    Cheryl,

    As a retired teacher, I read your blog with great interest. And I wept. Your words are so true. They speak of the love and the commitment that teachers across this province have for their students. How proud I am to be a teacher. What is happening in this province tears me a part. But we will not be silenced. This is our struggle. We will persevere. A former colleague from SD#35, now SD#46. Thank you.

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      Jill, thank you. The reality of today’s classrooms is gut-wrenching, and you’re right – we cannot stop. We cannot stand by and be party to a system we know is failing our kids.

  16. THANK YOU for this, Cheryl. I am honoured to have you as a colleague, and to have had the opportunity to teach with (once upon a time) such a dedicated and well spoken professional. I am going to share your letter with colleagues, friends, and parents alike. I pray not only that this letter is shared with the legislative assembly, but also that it is HEARD.

    Professionally yours,

    Becky Greenhow

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      Becky! Thanks so much for commenting! I am so proud to be a teacher at this moment. The comments here and on Facebook are proof we are a union of professionals. We teach with our hearts, it’s time to speak with them too.

  17. Haebin Pan Says:

    I am touched by your blog post. I am a Gr.10 student in a secondary, and despite the fact that I get straight As in honours classes, I feel that I am suffering, along with my friends and teachers, by the education system in BC. School is a place in which students have to enjoy learning and look forward with positiveness. Well, that does not happen with me. Somehow it seems that this education system supports marks more than the value of learning. We are learning to hate English, Socials, Science, Math and other subjects instead of having passion about them because we are unfairly pressured to produce great works as evidence of our abilities, so that we won’t be judged and evaluated as a “fool,” “academic failure,” or “a person who will ruin his life since he is so stupid.” The fact that we are marked and criticized based on what we learn causes us to hate learning and school, which is the opposite of a school’s objective. I actually used to love history and literature, but I do not feel as much as I did before because the marks that I get are not as great as the top student in our class. Somehow the fact that I am getting an unsatisfactory mark seems to prove that I am unworthy to learn more about the subject since I am more stupid than I expected. Also, it is really difficult to get help when I want to improve my mark because teachers do not have time during the classtime(in our school, it is only 1 hour, which is really short) and I feel awkwardness towards them because I, along with other students, are not really acquainted with the teachers. I really want the government to think over about the problems in our education system and change the policies. I wish and pray with all my heart that you and Teachers’ Federation will be successful in achieving the ultimate goal of improving the poor education system in BC.

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      Haebin, I am so sorry to hear you feel you are suffering under the current education system. I wish you the best of success as you continue your studies, and please know your words of support mean so much to teachers.

  18. ML Says:

    Amazing letter, Cheryl. Thank you for writing it and sending it to Mike Farnsworth. From an SD 43 colleague :)

  19. G walker Says:

    Thank you so much for this. You put my sentiments into words exactly. I share your pain and frustration.

  20. Lisa Muir Says:

    Cheryl,

    This is a brilliant article! Thank-you for writing it. You are doing a great service to students, teachers and education by writing it. I know, understand and agree with everything that you have written. Thank-you!!!

    Lisa – a teacher in Richmond

  21. Amanda Says:

    I hope you send this in and share it on the facebook page of Letter’s to MLAs

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      I have already sent it to my MLA, but I will also look for the Facebook page you’ve mentioned. I didn’t realize there was one for posting letters. Thanks!

      • Debbie Says:

        Here is the letter I received MLA:
        Dear Cheryl,

        I am writing to acknowledge the receipt of your email regarding the Teachers’ dispute and Bill 22. Thank you for taking the time to write.

        The real solution here is not legislation—it’s for an independent mediator to help the two sides get back to negotiate a resolution.

        Instead of being focused on creating the best learning conditions for our kids, this government has picked a fight with teachers for its own political needs. BC students and their families are the pawns in a game being played by this government.

        We are seeing the product of a decade of mismanaging education, sacrificing the needs of students, and alienating teachers and other education partners.

        Bill 22 makes things worse for students, parents and teachers. It increases class size, weakens protections for special needs students and hurts the quality of the education our children receive.
        We are very concerned that this government’s legislation has led to this strike.

        The two parties asked for the help of a mediator – and the Government rejected this. Instead, they chose to impose legislation that will hurt students and parents and further alienate teachers.

        Government has every reason to keep costs under control and negotiate on that basis. But it needs to be fair and respectful in those negotiations.

        We support a negotiated settlement. We support a process and an outcome that works for students and respects teachers.

        Let’s remember that this government has bargained outside of their “net-zero” mandate when it suits them – getting deals with nurses and doctors with real wage increases. And public sector bosses and executives have seen huge increases in their compensation.

        This is a significant bill. It imposes a contract on teachers. It does not fix the problems created by this Government’s illegal contract stripping in 2002.

        The New Democrat Opposition will be voting against Bill 22. We will put forward amendments to improve education for students, and we will raise our concerns and hold the Liberals to account whenever they choose to call debate.

        Once again, thank you for writing, your concerns and comments are important to me.

        Sincerely,
        Harry Bains, MLA
        Surrey-Newton

        604-597-8248

  22. Am Says:

    Well said! I too am a teacher… A few years ago, I had 36 grade 8′s in a 2.5 hr Social class…. Which was ok, because the other block had 22 — I was “under the average”. It doesn’t work. It’s not safe, sane, or even remotely in the best interests of the students.

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      The whole district “average” thing is one of the most unjust acts to come through in the past decade. Everyone who has ever taken a math course knows averages don’t represent reality.

  23. ryan Says:

    well explained if it makes you feel better over 14 000 students that care will be soon reading this and every single one of these students will be behind you guys all the way through these tough times for our education

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      Thanks, Ryan. I am thrilled today’s youth are taking an active interest in, not only their education but, politics and democracy. As with everyone, I encourage you to listen to both sides of the argument and form your own educated opinions.

  24. Fantastic letter. Thank you for speaking for all of us, teachers AND students. We have all worked in situations similar to what you have described, yet are seen as lazy and incompetent. Critics: please walk a mile, no – just a day – in our shoes.

  25. MR Says:

    Cheryl, thank for you writing this. I hope you don’t mind, but I included your blog’s link in a letter I just emailed to some of our MLAs. I urge you to send this in to any and all newspapers – it would help to spread the word of what’s going on right now in classrooms across the province.

  26. Elaan Says:

    Amazing post, Cheryl. So proud to have you as an SD43 colleague. I hope you share this with everyone. Thank you for pouring your heart & soul into your profession, and the kids.

  27. MR Says:

    Preach-on, sister!
    Love the bit about the administrators taking the entire school for the day in the gym! haha!
    I am feeling burnt out and ready to be done (and I’m only in my 6th year of teaching), thanks for fighting in previous years and continuing to spread the good word now. I think it’s really important for non-teachers to hear this side as well, and have reposted your blog on fb for my unsupportive-of-unions friends to read.
    teacher in sd70

  28. Terin Says:

    Thank you so much for speaking out. This is a fabulous, well-written post, and really gets at the heart of the situation. I am a teacher, with less experience than you, and I am glad you took the time to articulate the differences in conditions before and after our right to bargain class size and composition was illegally stripped. Triage. That’s exactly what it is. I had a similar class, and I can certainly relate. I was even lit on fire by one of my students. Actually lit on fire. He thought it would be a funny joke.

  29. Alex Barnetson Says:

    Indeed!! A great letter/article!! I feel like the CONDITIONS discussion is getting lost with the public by the COMPENSATION demands.

  30. Monica Grant Says:

    Thank-you for writing this letter. It echoes the concerns of all teachers province-wide. I hope that your letter goes viral!
    From Monica, colleague in Surrey

  31. Shannon Says:

    Cheryl, thank you. May I print off copies of this to share?

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      By all means, share this with whomever you choose. I wrote it with the hope it would be read aloud in the legislature – I’m touched beyond measure people are reading it in their homes and sharing with their colleagues and friends.

      • Debbie Says:

        Well said. I’ve copied it and sent ti to my MLA. Titled: A letter from a Colleague

      • Debbie Says:

        I have received another response from Roberta Walker:
        Dear Debbie

        Thank you for sending Robin Cheryl’s letter. Could you please forward our response to her.

        As Robin can not possibly answer all of the wonderful e mails he has been receiving I would like to thank you on behalf of Robin for your input on this important issue.

        I have attached copies of Minister Abbott’s response to Bill 22 and also Robin’s response.

        I am sending your e mail on to our research staff so that they may share your concerns and thoughts with the other Opposition MLA’s as they prepare for their response to Bill 22.

        Regards

        Roberta

        Roberta Walker
        Constituency Assistant Kitimat to
        Robin Austin, MLA
        Skeena

        Opposition Critic Education

  32. You put all my feelings so perfectly into words.Thank you for taking the time and effort to write this and send to the legislature. I agree that it should also be sent to the papers so that more of the public can read about what we are really fighting for.

  33. Gurjit Pattar Says:

    Well said! I hope you sent this to all the newspapers. This is what the public needs to read.

  34. Rita Says:

    Amazing. You have expressed my own sentiments so eloquently!

  35. Sheelagh Brothers Says:

    This is the most fantastic and depressing letter I have read. Like you ,I am an experienced teacher who has worked for 13 years at an Inner City school in East Van. I face so many similar problems (although, thankfully, not the carpenter ants!). You have synthesized and clearly expressed our critical concerns perfectly. Thank you for standing up and being a voice for our students.

  36. Leah Kelley Says:

    Excellent letter!! I will be tweeting this out and posting it to my FB page! Thank you!

  37. Posted this blog to Facebook, and now it’s lighting up like the 1st of July. Alas my conservative friends are puzzled.

  38. Sandy Stewart Says:

    As a retired teacher and school administrator I concur with your observations. The current school situation is an impossibility and makes my stomach churn with frustration and so I can imagine what it does for you and all our colleagues in the classroom.

  39. jc Says:

    Wow! You write so eloquently and have written exactly what many of us teachers are thinking and speaking about. Thank you for speaking up for all of us. I hope you can actually get this out there published in the paper. Hats off to you!!

  40. Taryn Says:

    Thank you! Everything you said is so spot on! I can’t thank you enough for putting into words how so many of us feel!

  41. Barrel Ship Says:

    Allow me to INTRODUCE YOU TO THE REAL AND EVERYDAY TEACHER!!!!! HERE they are!!! and the School YOU DOGGED!!! took a hit for your “opinion”,This is very cool – it puts those people to shame that say “oh they only work TEN months of the YEAR”, OH they ONLY work “IF” they get paid BETTER!!!! Miss KIM, whatever your last name is that begins with ABCDEE….whatever your last name is….READ THIS!!!! and “SHUT UP” and you prolly won’t…but I’ll forward it to you and guess what? as a favor, I won’t mention that you just got fired, from you’re” PAC” Owell, I guess you shouldn’t have used them as your sounding board!!!!! 15 GONE!!!! THIS IS WHAT TEACHING IS!!!!!!!!!

    PEACE!

  42. SSS Says:

    Awesome read Cheryl. I took the link and posted it to Facebook as well. I hope this is read tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed.

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      I haven’t had a chance to see what was done in the legislature today, but Mr. Farnworth’s assistant emailed me to let me know Mr. Farnworth will be receiving a copy of my email when he returns home from the Island for the weekend. I am assuming this means he has not seen it or read it in the legislature yet.

  43. SharonSD36 Says:

    Cheryl what a powerful piece you’ve written. I’m also beginning to think nobody cares about public education. But you’re right about one thing, in the end the students matter & WE do matter!

    Your colleague in Surrey

  44. Melissa Curtis Says:

    Thank-you for expressing what so many of us are feeling. Of the 18 students in my inner-city classroom, I have 14 ESL students, 4 designated (with another in the process), 6 refugees (which means a whole lot of PTSD) and 8 recently immigrated. That leaves me with only 2 that are not ESL &/or designated. And I have no EA.
    The only small problem is Mike Farnsworth is a Member of the Legislative Assembly. Your Member of Parliament works in Ottawa. A mistake probably gone unnoticed by most, though!

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      Thanks for pointing out my mistake – I have gone back and corrected it! :-)

      I am sorry to hear about your class composition issues. Our inability to bargain for these is hurting everyone.

  45. What an excellent letter! I’m an Education Assistant and I see classrooms similar to yours everyday. I posted your letter to my profile on fb too. All the EAs that I know, support the teachers. We feel your disappointment and pain. Thank you for putting it into words.

  46. Wendy Says:

    Cheryl – your letter/essay expresses the concerns of teachers with clarity and eloquence. Please send your letter to the papers and to the BCTF; we need to find a way to help people understand how much the system has been eroded by legislation and indifference. Your words are empowering and they need to be shared. Thank you from an SD43 colleague.

  47. Claudia Says:

    Thanks for this post. I am a parent and support my children’s teachers 100%!! You are doing an amazing job. You deserve to earn a respectable wage and your working environment should be supportive and kind. Do not be discouraged – what you do does matter and we do care. Parents will vote in the next election. Our children are our priority, they need the right funding so that they can have a future. Cutting back on education now will have detrimental consequences for the future of our society. It is thanks to your commitment that our students are still doing OK. It is the teachers who are going above and beyond for our students – not our government. Thank you for all you do!

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      Thank you so much for your supportive comment! We support parents too! After all, who knows the child best? We need to work together to provide the best education possible for today’s youth.

  48. Bobbi Says:

    Cheryl,
    Amazing is the letter, just as you are a teacher! I will be sharing!

  49. Laura Says:

    Wow! What an excellently written letter. I have always appreciated what teachers do for our children. Reading your post just helps me appreciate it that much more. I’m in such agreement with what you’ve written that I hope you don’t mind that I shared the link on my Facebook page. I too hope your letter gets read in parliament.

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I don’t mind at all that you shared my letter. I want my story to be a matter of public record. If not via the legislature, then through social media. Kids matter. It’s time people heard just how little is being done for them.

  50. Thank you for this. Thank you for your hard work, also.

    I almost went into teaching but I turned down my acceptance to SFU for many of these very reasons. I would have been proud to be your colleague, though.

    Also, Bennett is my new hero. The birthday party analogy is fantastic.

  51. Ange Says:

    I teach in SD43 too and your words echo my thoughts exactly. Thank you for taking the time to write this letter and let everyone know the truth about the numerous difficulties teachers face on a daily basis.

  52. Michelle Honeysett (sd71) Says:

    Cheryl… Thank you for using your voice (such an articulate one, at that!) to share what is not your plight alone!! You have so clearly outlined the issues facing public educatoin and the reasons that teachers are standing up to the government’s heavy handed politics. This is a powerful reminder of the importance of using our collective voices. Public education in our province has been eroded long enough! We must advocate for change and for our students. I hope your letter is read in the legislature… and possibly finds its way to the newspapers. I along with so many others have already posted it on FB and tweeted on Twitter. You have inspired me to write my own letter! Thank you!!!

  53. Vicki Says:

    Thank you Cheryl for your clear and concise description of the reality we face each and every day in the classroom. I too love my job and put the students first. Thanks on behalf of Port Coquitlam teachers!

  54. lyndatoews Says:

    A great letter. Thank you for writing it. I think that one of the biggest farces that the government has perpetrated is the one about how not receiving report cards is detrimental to childrens’ education.

    The oversized and unsupportable classes that we have dealt with for that past 10 years is thousands of times more damaging and to many more students than it would be to these kids if they never got another report card in their lives.

    I teach adult students. I have four classes, three of them are English 11 classes, 34, 36 and 25. My evening class is a split English 10/11 and I have 32 students between the two levels.

  55. Clarisse Gatti Says:

    Amazing letter. It should be published in every newspaper, internet news etc. It tells people what is really going on and not the BS the government is dishing out. Im concerned that the teachers don’t have an advocate willing to show the human side of the conditions many of the teachers/schools faces. Everyone can relate to your letter, it need’s to be the poster child of your fight against the government. Im tired of hearing parents with kids in school saying that teachers are being greedy and need to accept that we are in tough times. To suck it up, and go back to work. They know nothing of what has happened to put us in this situation. I feel we are slowing heading into a dictatorship, a dictator with many faces and bulging pockets. Im scared for what the future holds for Canada. If you guys don’t win this fight it will only be the beginning of what’s to come. I especially loved the part where you compare parents taking their kids out of class to a walk out. It so true, funny how that’s the only thing a parent was made aware of on the report cards.

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      Thank you for your support. I don’t know how we can get our message across. It seems when teachers try to speak out, the reaction is, “Well, they’re teachers, of course they’re going to say that.” How do we convince the public to believe us?

  56. Kam Says:

    Thank you Cheryl for this letter. It is a beautifully written letter, that in a few short paragraphs speaks volumes about our public education. Whether or not this letter gets read in parliament, I hope this letter goes viral.

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      Thank you. I do hope it gets read, but if not, people like you and others who’ve come to my blog are doing an excellent job of making sure others have a chance to read my letter. With support like this, my story can’t help but be heard.

      • Kam Says:

        Cheryl just heard you on the radio :) No words could express the appreciation, for speaking out, and truly expressing what most teachers in BC are feeling. Thank you!

  57. Teacher in Hope Says:

    Thanks for saying it so well, you have described the class I have in Sd78 this year perfectly. Somehow it helps a tiny bit to hear I am not alone. I plan to print this and show itto my non teacher friends in the hope they get it.

  58. K. Sitter Says:

    Thanks for writing this. You need to send this to the media so they can fully understand the problems that we face in the classroom!

  59. Heidi McMaster Says:

    Yes, Yes, Yes! And again, I say…YES! As a fellow teacher in Abbotsford (grade 1), I feel this is the best, most accurate and most eloquently written assessment of what is REALLY going on in our schools. Thank you! I will be sharing it with everyone I know, and I hope dearly that it is read aloud in the Legislature!

  60. Lorenne Bastien Says:

    This is absolutely fabulous! Thank you for putting so eloquently into words what many of us in the education profession have been feeling and trying to communicate. I hope you have sent this to as many media outlets as you can. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  61. Lia Grundle Says:

    BRILLIANT!! I am a retired teacher but due to the lack of classroom support for special needs students, I am spending 12 – 15 hours a week tutoring. Absolutely everything you have said is dead on. I pray to God that not only will the government hear you, but this should be in all the newspapers throughout the province. The government has edited, screened and silenced so many voices that the public can’t help but believe their lies because there isn’t any way to contradict them or call them on their lies. This dictatorship is painful to live and work with – I thought we were a democracy. God help us all – -keep up the good work. You ARE appreciated!!

  62. Dianne Rodney Says:

    I am a retired elementary teacvher. I have been retired for 8 years and what is happening now was happening in the latter years of my teaching, I always wanted to be a teacher and I loved teaching. The first 20-25 years of my career I loved what I did and felt like I was valued for what I did. The last 10 years or so, well, not so much. In fact, I was glad that I was retiring. Not because I couldn’t stand the kids or teaching but I couldn’t stand all that you have just covered in your letter. There is nothing I could add to what you have written except for what you say is absolutely true. The people in the province need to wake up, quit blaming teachers and save education for their children and grandchildren before it is too late.
    Thank you, thank you Cheryl Angdt

  63. Allison Runnalls Says:

    Very well spoken, Cheryl! I have four children, 2 with special learning needs and I have been watching them get moved up the line into highschool when they weren’t ready. Not because the teachers didn’t care, but because the resources to help them be successful instead of just “passing” we’re not there.
    Our family supports you 100% and we will be participating in the student strike on Friday in support of and on the behalf of the teachers who are being unjustly legislated.
    Kudos to you all!
    A mom in PoCo who knows who is truly at fault here.

  64. Luna Says:

    Thank you for writing this. It’s good for people to know what’s going on. I’m sharing it all over the web. :)

    My experience is that of a parent of special needs kids. (I have 3). One of them is in Gr11. She’s had some GREAT teachers who’ve done the impossible with far less than they needed. And she’s had some assholes who crap on everything around them. She’s got one of each this semester. There was one year when we went in for parent/teacher interviews and the teacher said that she was terribly bright, and was bored because of it. She didn’t know who our child was, hadn’t a *clue* that she had a Ministry designation and certainly hadn’t looked at her IEP (from the previous year, because we didn’t have a new one yet because the special ed teacher was overloaded).

    And I have one who I refuse to send to school. He’s middle of the road functioning autistic. He can’t talk, but he’s clever. Very clever. As in, when he knows he wants to get into something he shouldn’t, he sets up a diversion for the adults around him. The district asked me repeatedly how long he could be left alone with a colouring book. Um? 3 seconds. Max. And to top it off, he’s got food allergies and they promise up and down they can keep the room clean. Of bread and cracker crumbs. When the kids eat in the classroom, because they’re so crammed into every room there are no lunchrooms anymore. He’d die or run away. By day 2. The schools are so unsafe for kids like him, I have stopped even dreaming he can go to school.

    The little one? We’ll see. He’s only 3.

    Anyway, I have gone on long enough. So I’ll end how I started. THANK YOU.

  65. Catherine Says:

    Excellent letter! I really hope it gets read too. As a parent of a child in an overcrowded grade 5 class with several special needs children I understand & can relate to yours and every other teacher’s struggles with our current education system. The news of the past few days and the bullying tactics of our government make me sick. They don’t care about my children and they aren’t putting “families first”. I want to scream at Mr. Abott every time he says that children have suffered from the job action of the past few months. If anything I have been more informed by my children’s teachers than in past years and have never for one moment have felt that their learning has suffered this past year. With the introduction of Bill 22 though I have very little hope for the future of education in this province. I stand behind every teacher in our province and truly hope that your voices will be heard. Love the party analogy as well!
    A parent from SD63

  66. RP Says:

    What I read from this is another list of compliants, and I have some of my own. I am a young teacher in BC. I work at a private school and teach the same curriculum as you, to a similiar demographic of students as you. I make substantially less than you and I don’t get any benefits – none what so ever. I work hard, and my students excel, and as such I have garnered a reputation as a “good teacher.” I will tell you what is wrong with the school system, and you may disagree. You need to get rid of the old way of thinking and doing, and that means to remove the “dead weight,” which are the teachers that give this profession a bad name. The ones that simply hang around for the pay check and benefits, and are bitter every day they go to work and everyday the leave – and there are lots of you. So many of you that many new and innovative teachers are unable to step into the door, and come up with new initiatives to resolve these issues that burden you so. Nothing will change until the foundation of the teaching profession and the bitter, political agenda garnering, teachers who are only there for personal gain are removed. You went about this whole strike the wrong way. Wake up! You had no media know how, no plan, and a dead pan argument with a dead pan group of leaders. You want it to get better, than be willing to except change!

    • Deb Says:

      BRAVO!!!!! There are so many teachers just putting in time it makes me ill. I have 2 children in the “System” and let me tell you I can count on one hand the actual Teachers they have had! Years in is not the problem, the problem is every one is a winner and we need to get back into the class rooms as parents and stop using it as a day care facility! Unions only help Unions and if you are on the favorite list you get the call if not ..you as a teacher are over looked weather you are a good educator .If parents could be in the classes they would see its not about class size (everyone passes not matter what)it is about learning to evolve.I won’t say out with the old and in with the new, I would say it is time to reevaluate HOW you get the information across. My Dad was a teacher and he is retired now. He was a popular teacher because he taught his students to think for themselves.We always had kids coming to our home so he could help them. Not paid mine you. He had the concept that teaching was a life style not a 8-4 job. How many teachers have that policy? I went into a teachers meeting 2 years ago and the teacher was not prepared to help out my daughter learn the material she was teaching. When I asked if she had an issue with a different teacher helping her she oh no go right ahead.I don’t support this action and i would really like everyone to get into the classrooms to see REALLY what is going on.Out of 365 days our children attend 186 .Maybe the Professional development days would be greatly used to actually Develop teachers, not get a free day. I have taught at a Pro-D day and guess what teachers that signed up didn’t even show up! Sorry This issue in an old ploy from the union to get more in the coffers to make themselves look good to the members.Where is the accountability,Certainly not on teacher now that is for sure.Remember
      Everyone is a winner=Everyone passes you are right is all about the numbers.

    • Luna Says:

      RP: Your job conditions are a result of having no union to protect you. (I’m not a member of the BCTF. Never have been. Don’t agree with everything they do. Don’t disagree with everything they do.)

      There is dead weight in every profession. How exactly, with examples, do you propose to find it, and flush it out, without first funding the system properly so that those who are overwhelmed by too much to do with no money can work to their best?

      P.S. For a teacher, your grammar and spelling are terrible. I hope you don’t teach English!

    • a mom for public schools Says:

      I am not a teacher, nor do I have a degree of any kind. However, I know that your last line should read, “You want it to get better, THEN be willing to ACCEPT change!” I hope you do not teach grammar.

      Silliness aside, I see a list of complaints as well. Complaints about conditions and situations that no teacher or student in a country like Canada, in a province like British Columbia should ever have to worry about or deal with.

    • Kandie Says:

      I agree with you! I have pulled my children from public education and opted for private…and let me tell you- night and day! My special needs daughter is getting the help she needs and now LOVES school! PRivate education teachers could show the public school ones a thing or two!

      • I am a private school educator and work hard, but not any harder than my public school colleagues. The difference in the private system is that we have the option of going to our administrator & directly to our board and letting them know about our classroom situation. When I have done this, I have never been told that I am unreasonable or selfish (unlike the public school “employer” aka. the gov’t of BC). My employer has ensured I received extra resources (EA support, professional development, extra ESL/Learning Support time, etc.) which has ensured the students in my class are successful & that I can do my job well.

        I’m glad that your daughter has got the support she needs to thrive however, I’m sad to hear that the private system was the only choice for your family. I think that everyone needs to take a stand for public education. The bigger picture is that the public education system impacts our society as a whole. We need to ensure that EVERYONE has access to a quality education and not have a system that only provides this for those that can pay for it.

        It was Nelson Mandela that said, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” Speaking up for teachers and students is one way we can ensure our world is changed to become a more just and compassionate place.

    • SR Says:

      RP,

      You also need to realize the fact that the students that are put into private schools may come from a completely different lifestyle/mindset/background, etc. Many families that have students in public school cannot afford private. Majority of private school students have a privilege and advantage to begin with…which of course impacts how they do in school overall. If you feel that you are a “good teacher”, why don’t you teach in public school? Give it a try and see if you would still be a “good teacher” with different demographics of students and issues.

  67. Hello Cheryl, what an amazing glimpse of what is really going on in our school system. As a parent of 3 in the B.C.school system I have nothing but respect for you teachers. Thankyou for sharing and I will be sharing this with all my friends as well. I really hope they read this aloud… What is with the government ? Don’t they realize that our most important investment for our future is our children.

  68. J Says:

    As a fellow colleague, I thank you for putting this depressing situation into such accurate words. I encourage you to forward this message on to the general public in as many ways as you can.

    THANK YOU

  69. Jen Says:

    For someone like myself who is not that familiar with the current state of the education system, you have done a great job articulating what it is that teachers do and the struggles you face. You also address some of the implications for society as a whole, as a result of poorly funded education. My hats off to you and others who teach. I work in healthcare and constantly struggle to do more with less; in many ways our issues are similar. Sadly the press seems to be unfairly biased against teachers as of late. Keep speaking out. Keep the students at the forefront of the fight. You have valid concerns that the public needs to hear!

  70. Glenis Wong Says:

    GO CHERYL!! Thank you so much for your writing talent in representing the perspectives of the children, teachers and parents. Thank you especially for using the birthday party to exemplify teaching in a way that’s tangible to promote understanding. With gratitude – Glenis:)

  71. Dan Says:

    Great comments and very well written. Kudos to great educators like yourself. For those who are 100% behind the government, please understand we are not against great educators such as yourself who obviously care and whom our children are blessed to be taught by you. We are absolutely against the BCTF and archaic union tactics that protects the terrible and poor “teachers” (if they can even call themselves that) who are in the education system. We are against those teachers who choose not to take their profession seriously and are simply enjoying the protection their union provides for them. If teachers choose to be represented by a union, then the good educators like yourself, must take the good with the bad…including those colleagues who give teachers a bad name. Thank you.

  72. Cathy Says:

    Congratulations, Cheryl! What a powerful, beautifully written letter. Like so many others, I shared your words through FB and am thrilled with how many people are connecting to it, teachers and non-teachers alike. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us are feeling. Let’s keep sharing the message!

    Good luck — you ARE making a difference.
    Cathy, another SD43 colleague .

  73. Cheryl Kay Says:

    You have articulated our distressing predicament well. I have been teaching for 35 years and students learning needs have become more complex and more diverse than ever before. I teach at secondary level and most of my students are stressed, tired, hungry, distracted… attending school while sick like never before… many of them not fully present to the opportunity to learn. The behaviour needs are piled into every class. 30 kids in a class is too many right now! Clearly this gets in the way of doing our job properly. I do the best I can to cope… but you’re right… it’s like applying triage… anyone who has never taught simply can’t understand what it’s like in a classroom. But if they could shadow me for one day… they would be dismayed. It’s grim! Front line teaching is like being in a war zone… or as William Pinar wrote,”“public-school teachers have been reduced to domestic workers, instructed by politicians to clean up the “mess” left by politics, culture and history”. Keep writing… you express our situation very well. I find reassurance in reading your letter because you write it as IT IS! from another Cheryl in SD#41

  74. F. Samson Says:

    A beautiful, heartfelt rendering of the realities of teaching in a political climate that demeans teachers.

  75. Taelor Says:

    Hi Cheryl,
    I would like to thank you for writing this letter; I do not have kids of my own so I had no idea things were this bad for students and teachers. I’m a recently graduated registered nurse and feel like I’m coming into a very similar fight for my patients, as you are with your students. I applaud you for standing up for yourself and your students, and I sincerely hope your words help to change the current situation. Thank you for standing up for children in school, and for educating me (and hopefully others).

  76. Edna Chadwick Says:

    Beautifully said. I’m retired but have worked all my life as an Registered Nurse. Although a different occupation, I can so relate. Good luck. I’m with you all the way

  77. Chris Says:

    Unreal. You have articulated so many frustrations I have felt even as a new teacher. It seemed each paragraph held an idea that connected and hit on a moment I’ve experienced.

    I hope this is read aloud and even picked up by some news station or paper!

  78. David R Packer Says:

    Fantastic. This post should be read by everyone. Brilliant summation of the issues, and an excellent argument for change.

    Thank you for writing this.

  79. Philip Says:

    Cheryl
    I suppose your latest blog was insightful for many people. Sadly, not for me. Nothing had changed in education in BC for 40+ years, and there’s never been any indication to the contrary. Knowing this fact, as you and your esteemed colleagues no doubt do, why do you teach if it’s so awful? With so many people working in difficult conditions for much less, most of who are too overworked and preoccupied with their own families, where does your public support come from? A person would have to be pretty affluent already to have pity on a group of public employees who enjoy a package that is not only fat above average income, but absolute fantasy when you plug in the pay raises for length of service, paid sabbaticals and the massive income increase that comes with each new degree. What is it now? $80K + for a teacher with 12 years experience? No wonder the principal is pulling down $120K! In the real world there’s plenty of us that would willingly suffer for such a deal.

    Im sure you are conscientious and competent. My child’s grade 5 teacher has a reputation for demeaning students and trivializing parent’s concerns. I wrote a courteous email to my child’s principal three weeks ago and still haven’t received a reply. My child worked hard to get all A’s last year in partnership with his teacher and his parents all working together. By this Xmas, he was distressed because there hadn’t been student conferences or report cards. He wanted to know if his new teacher cared about him. I ended up telling him that it won’t be the first time that someone he depends on and was taught to respect will not meet his expectations. Now he just gets sucks it up and gets his work done without the encouragement, accolades and progress reports he once took to heart.

    I’m not a total outsider to public education. For several years I partnered my business with committed educators across the lower mainland to help fund the acquisition of up to date materials and support positive learning outcomes. If a teacher participated the program I devised, their students received the benefit. Eventually we had teachers with no interest in helping with the program demanding
    equal funding from it. After 2 years the program generated more funding than was needed for materials, so we gave away the annual surplus as scholarships and bursaries for students wanting to continue their post secondary education. After several years and having generated more than $500K, including $25K in annual scholarships from local businesses and agencies, we closed the program after being told by the district’s teachers association and the board that our work wasn’t appreciated because funding
    only went to those teachers who were actively involved with the program.

    The only winners of our success were students, and in the end, they were the only losers, not over wages, or benefits, or class sizes, but because of a culture of entitlement that permeated public education.

    • Dan Says:

      Excellent excellent points.

    • Jen Says:

      Thanks for saying this. I am not heartless, and I understand that there are real problems in our education system. But my daughter is in grade 2 in a Coquitlam school, and although it’s not perfect, it’s nowhere near as bad as portrayed here. Their school is modest but clean and safe; she has had wonderful, caring teachers. She has a class of 20, a few of whom are ESL but very high-functioning, and another of whom has serious special needs but who is accompanied all day every day by an ESA. She LOVES school and is heartbroken at the thought of missing so many days ( and as a two-working-parent family, we won’t be sending her to spend all day in a gym as you suggest, so are having to find alternate arrangements). Not having report cards has been a huge negative for us; we were lucky enough to be able to meet with her teacher, but many teachers were not willing to do this. My biggest frustration is this: I listened to Susan Lambert on CBC radio the afternoon the contract demands were announced. During the entire interview, the only demand she discussed was the wage increase. There were some vague statements about class size and composition, but NOTHING that the public could quantify or put into context. And now I keep hearing that “the media” has made this all about the wage demands. If you want the public to understand, try electing BCTF leadership that can properly communicate your concerns and make it not just “all about the money”. The vast majority of people in this province work under far less favorable wages, benefits, and vacation packages, and as soon as “15%” came out of her mouth you lost all credibility with a large number of us.

      The kicker to all of this: my husband is a teacher who has maxed out his compensation as well. He spends countless extra hours and weekends preparing, marking, traveling etc., so I am not unsympathetic. But he does it because he loves it, and he is damn good at it…and he knew what he was getting into when he chose teaching as a profession. The fact that it’s so hard for recent teaching graduates to get a job should speak to the fact that teachers aren’t exactly leaving the profession in droves, despite the ‘atrocious’ working conditions.

      • Carolee Says:

        I agree with so much said here. I’ve been teaching in Vancouver for 12 years and so have watched the cuts ruin education. However, your point about Susan Lambert is so right. My colleagues and I talk daily about the frustrations of being represented by someone with seemingly no PR skills. I have felt ashamed by this job action since September because I think we make enough money and I’m happy with my benefits…until now. With this government making meaningful debate and bargaining in good faith a total joke, now I’m just angry, and very frightened for myself and my son. I have, over the years, put more personal money out to feed kids, buy them materials, clothes…during 6 years in a special-ed program for severely at-risk young moms, I regularly was forced to leave the students alone doing “self-paced work” to write grant proposals, drum up funding, and organize and train volunteers to try to and meet the needs of a generation of kids who fell through the gaps, and are now parenting the next generation in a system that cares even less and provides a lot less. Prior to that I worked in a district ESL program wherein someone unlocked a classroom door in an 80 year old building and ushered me into a room that had, literally, a pile of broken desks in the middle, piles of dead flies in the windows, and discarded, outdated textbooks in rotting boxes, and told “good luck!” 19 kids ranging from 13 years old to 19 years old, from 7 different countries, ranging in ability from “zero-beginner” to “nearly-fluent”. There was no support. No curriculum. No materials. That was 9 years ago, when there was more money and more supports than now. The working conditions are every bit as bad as Cheryl states. Last year I reduced my hours to 1/2 time so I could volunteer in my own son’s classroom, the ridiculous “all-day K” move this government made to offload the cost of meaningful childcare onto school boards and teachers. My little October-born “only” was placed into a kindergarten/grade 1 split of all boys, 3 of whom turned 7 that January, and another 4 who were behavior-disordered with Ministry designations and no aides or supports. Through enormous parent-involvement, that included PAC funding materials to decorate the classroom, everyone limped along and got through. Now, one year later, every one of those boys shows the signs of feeling treated as “less than” last year. They missed field trips the other classes went on because they represented so much more work for supervision due to the designated kids. Their classroom was bare and uninviting for months while the school board refused to fund basic materials. Every one of those boys was viscerally aware that they were the “extra” class. Thanks to an amazing teacher, they did, to a man, all learn to read and write. But they did NOT receive the education my tax dollars pay for. It was triage. Yes, we should get rid of the dead weight. No one’s said more consistently and fervently than me over the years. But…how many more of us teachers are just going to drop the oars and float aimlessly when we got too exhausted to keep fighting something as massive as a storm at sea…every day, day in and day out?

      • Elya Says:

        While I love this letter, I agree with you, Jen. I’ve also been attacked for saying so because I made a point of excluding some teachers from my frustration which apparently you can’t do – even though my mom’s a TA & helps in the administration office sometimes & therefore has a first hand view of this but from another perspective so it’s hard for me to support some of this. The more lashing out that happens to the “general public” (no, I’m not referring to this letter at all, I think this is brilliantly stated), the less support the teachers will get in general. I do think the teachers have a right to fight for their students but you’re right when you said the forerunner has been wages not the rest of the issues that the general public would care about.

  80. Laura Campbell Says:

    Hi Cheryl,

    I find your post enlightening and your arguments very reasonable. I wish the issues you face with the building conditions and your class composition will be addressed. No reasonable person would expect you to stand silent and passive while your students learning conditions suffered. I take issue with your comment about the former premier pulling his children from school for vacations. I acknowledge this did occur, but challenge anyone but the parents of those children to judge wether pulling a child who has excellent grades from class for a week to spend quality time with that parent who has sacrificed family timthrown a daily basis to dedicate his life to public service worth it. I can assure you that their parents took their childrens’ education very seriously and that decision was not made lightly.

  81. Lulu Says:

    C,
    Well put. As a new teacher I often feel despondent to “The System” but when I read this it reminded me why I became a school teacher in the first place. To make a difference and by writing this, Cheryl, you made a difference. Thank you.
    -L

  82. rontheartist Says:

    I have family members who are teachers and with whom I sympathize wholeheartedly. I have written the following to them after reading your letter to Mr. Farnsworth.

    “Aside from it being too long for it ever to be read in the Legislature, Cheryl Angst says it all. That is, she summarily covers all the aspects of the preposterous government treatment of education and educators in B.C. She has clearly and effectively expressed what you and other teachers experience as professionals. She has correctly identified the primary cause of the present governmental lack of good faith in bargaining, that being the determination to balance the budget. The government thinks this will happen by 2013, but in all likelihood it will not happen until 2016 and that means teachers will continue to wage this futile struggle. But don’t pin your hope on 2016 when this government spends freely on other projects. I am embarrassed by my government’s approach to education. I have sympathized with your demanding classroom situation and then she qualifies herself to write by citing her status which is appalling in the extreme. She is the kind of person who should be articulating these necessary viewpoints and arguments to the press, the media, the politicians. She better than anyone I have read to date tells the truth. Her piece was deeply saddening because truth hurts. I am still of the opinion that the movement that can turn this around will be a consolidation of parents and teachers, a powerful voice to speak to the importance of the child’s education, and therefore the importance of our government prioritizing finances for classroom resources, for classroom upgrades, for class sizes, for assistance for special needs children, for increases to salaries and benefits to teachers to keep these good teachers like her and like you at one of the most important and yes essential jobs in our society.” Very well done Cheryl.

  83. Andrea Says:

    What a fantastic letter you have written! I am not a teacher, but my mom was, and still is, even through she is retired. I am a taxpayer who grew up in BC and went through the public education system here. I graduated from high school in 1999, so before the Liberals were elected. I loved school, and I loved my teachers, and I believe that education is the most powerful tool we possess. I support each and every one of you in your fight to save our education system. Cheryl, other than voting the Liberals out of office, what can regular citizens do to help BC’s teachers?

  84. Mark Says:

    I am confused why there is no rational economic discussion about teachers. At between $60 – $70 thousand a year for working between 9am and 3pm with scads of time off this group of professionals is already grossly overcompensated. Yes, I know, they work harder than that, but many don’t. And the point is they don’t have too. Class sizes are large because that is all the government is able to change to try and cut costs. It is the ridiculous wage and benefit compensation that is killing education in BC. But like everything else in Canada, if you can’t take a reasonable wage to work in a mill then they will have to eventually ship the raw logs to India and shut the mills down. At some point the education in Canada will have to be shut down and sold to companies that can provide the work at a reasonable cost. You would think someone would wake up and see where you are all heading and work with the government before they decide they just can’t work with you and will stop trying. Bottom line – you are all very greedy!

    • Sherry Says:

      Have you even BEEN in an over-crowded classroom, with students who should have additional support but don’t quite “qualify”??? I am in such a classroom, and we have two autistic students who “melt down” on a daily basis, but do not have one-on-one support. In addition we have several kids with learning disabilities, several more who miss school on a regular basis, and parents coming in and telling the teacher it is all her fault when anything happens that is not to their liking. NONE of the teachers with whom I work leave right at the end of the day, and they all take home work to do at home on a daily basis.

    • Paul Says:

      Grossly overcompensated? Scads of time off? Greedy? Hmm. I wonder why 20% of new teachers quit after their first year teaching and 50% leave the profession after the 5th year? I wonder how many have managed to pay off their student loans by the 5th year?

    • Luna Says:

      I challenge you to find me one teacher who works between 9 and 3 only. One.

      • a mom for public schools Says:

        I provide childcare for a teacher. She drops her young son off with me just after 7:30 am and picks him up again around 4:45. Five days a week. Even counting her 15 minute commute, her day is far longer than the 9 to 3 mantra that so many seem to think she works.

      • Jen Says:

        I know several! And (shocker!) they skip out on Pro-D days too! That said, I also know lots of fantastic teachers who work way more than 8 hours a day. But this notion that teachers are all martyrs has got to stop. Like any profession, there are good ones and bad ones, and yes there are MANY who take advantage.

    • jeff Says:

      I agree! it is the Union that is making teachers look bad. The union collects the due from the members so it can act on thier behalf, it is not acting on good faith for the teacher or for the students. Do away with the union and the situation in the schools will improve. Teachers will not have to pay union dues and have more for take home. Without the union the “bad” teachers will not beable to hide and the profession itself with have a better image. Unions are out-dated.

    • Dan Thiessen Says:

      Hi Mark,

      I am sorry you feel that we are all greedy. I am a school counsellor responsible for supporting 450 gr 7-9 students. At present, since September, I have seen over 100 students in my office and numerous others in classrooms. I have had to deal with 6 seriously suicidal students, called the MCFD twice to report an abusive home situation, met and spoke with dozens of parents, written Individual Educational and Behavioural plans for 10 Intensive Behaviour students, and supported dozens of anxious and discouraged students. Yesterday, I helped a 12 year old emotional boy deal with a major disappointment in his life. I couldn’t change the situation for him but, by the end of our conversation 30 minutes later, he was smiling as I walked him back to class. We talked about how a person learns the skills to deal with disappointment in life – a very important lesson. Later, I thought about my own disappointment with the current situation involving our government. What this boy didn’t know was that while we were talking, there were three other students who wanted to see me but couldn’t. Every day I wonder how many students’ needs I am not meeting. I usually arrive at work at 8:00 and usually don’t leave before 4:30.

      Although I cannot and would not speak for anyone else, I want you and anyone else who is interested to know that I would drop all wage increases if the government would restore adequate supports for children in our schools. Period.

      • Norm Says:

        Wow, good for you. You actually work an 8 hour day which is what most of us do without your bloated wage, benefits or pension plan.

      • Dale Says:

        You and I both know that neither you nor any of your fellow teachers will ever return any salary increase to the school board to hire more teachers, more teacher’s aides, or repair dilapidated schools and classrooms. It will NEVER, EVER happen. Once the contract is signed, the salaries are increased, the teachers skulk away hoping no one notices they suddenly stopped ‘fighting’ for their supposed concerns.
        Cheers!

      • Scott Says:

        What is your definition of ‘bloated’ wage? I just looked at my last December pay stub: Gross of 62,000 and Net of $44, 500. In what circles of life is $45, 500 a year considered ‘bloated’? I’m not going say it isn’t a decent wage, if not modest. If you want to talk really bloated, how about the salaries of MLA’s? or the corporate business management people whom of federal government thought deserved tax cuts so they could make even more money?

        Another thing to consider is how much it costs for the privilege of this ‘bloated’ wage. If you think teachers should be paid less, then the cost to get a degree should reflect that. Of the 16 teachers that in the my group that graduated together, I believe we had an average of around $30, 000 in student loan debt waiting for us when we started working (and this when 10 years ago, tuition fees have since skyrocketing under Liberal government the last 10 years).

      • Kevin Says:

        It is important to remember that when comparing wages with other job-types that teachers have a minimum of 5 years of post secondary education behind them. We must compare apples to apples. Compared to many other jobs I’m sure it seems like teachers make way too much. But how do teacher wages compare to other professions where 5 years of education is required? Being careful to keep that fact in mind, perhaps people would understand discussions about wages.

    • dp Says:

      I would encourage you to spend a week in a classroom shadowing a teacher, then evaluate your position.

  85. bellaluminara Says:

    Reblogged this on through the looking glass and commented:
    This is an amazing read, for anyone looking for the REAL perspective of teachers. If you have an open mind, I do hope you read it. She sums up everything I WANT to say right now, but cannot, because I am too angry to form coherent words. Shame on this government for everything it has done to our children. I am so proud of teachers — I’m not ashamed to say I love what my colleagues do for the children, even if the media and the government want to malign us for their own gain. What a world. What a system. It disgusts me.

  86. Shelley Says:

    THANK YOU! I am a new teacher (5 years), and you have eloquently put words to everything that I feel. Thank you!

  87. Christine Bourgeois Says:

    I agree with 100 percent of what you say. Teachers have my full support. I hope your letter gets read.

  88. Kristine Says:

    I hope you start to believe that other people care. Something that caught my eye was that the government pressures you to teach at higher levels than students can learn. Maybe a way teachers could protest is by teaching to the level of the children. That way, the children will enjoy learning more, teachers will be making a difference, and the government will have to adapt. Just a suggestion. Thanks for writing this. Good luck!

  89. Colleen Says:

    This is so very well written and should hit home not only with teachers, but parents and students too. I’m a high school teacher not currently teaching since I decided to take some time off while my kids were small because I didn’t think I could spend the time I wanted to with them as well as put my concentrated effort into my teaching. It was a hard decision, but the right one for my family in the end. Kids deserve more than they are getting on so many levels. Teachers not only have to deal with everything you’ve mentioned, but they are real people with real lives outside of the school environment as well… I sure hope this gets read and I have posted a link to it on my FB page! Well done!

  90. Sherry Says:

    Sadly your blog reflects the reality of what is going on….Throw in the lack of respect for educational assistants, Interpreters and other so-called “support staff” (by the government, parents and, yes, teachers) and the situation is indeed as dismal as your words portray. It’s a sad situation for the children of our province, too many of whom are struggling on a daily basis without enough support.

  91. Mariette Says:

    Thanks for sharing your concern over the proposed Bill 22 Cheryl!
    I haven’t read the entire Bill; but glanced over @ an article comparing it to ‘a train wreck” http://www.timescolonist.com/health/Bill+train+wreck+waiting+happen/6232797/story.html .
    One of the section of the article I read posted above, left me with an unsettled feeling. The section in question was about limiting the number of children allowed to be in a certain class (ex. Home Economics..only 3 allowed; but the rest if they want to apply , will be turned back.) What the?..
    It reminds of the book Handmaid Tale by Margaret Atwood,where women are outcasted if they can’t produce.
    Best of luck with your challenges !
    Mariette

  92. I wish I could express my thoughts and feelings and opinions so eloquently as this lovely lady. I was not blessed with this skill but every word is true and I hope to pass along her words through Facebook. Unlike Cheryl, I have no textbooks at all…rats and mice litter our desks with urine and feces on a daily basis, and school-wide insecticide spraying for other little critters has happened 4 times since September.

    (Edited on request of the poster.)

    • Dana Says:

      Linda, I would like to know what school you are talking about. While this seems far fetched, I would like to have this investigated for myself. Please reply with the name of the school and location.

  93. Nita Says:

    Powerful. Thank you.

  94. Christy Says:

    Thank you for your eloquent and articulate words. You have said what I want to say. I will definitely be linking this to my fb and twitter accounts.

  95. Tawnya Says:

    Yes it is a moving letter. I just don’t buy that it is that horrible and if it in fact is then shame on You and the Principal for not bringing this to the Governments attention everyday! If the schools are in fact this horrible then shame shame shame on everyone involved for letting it get to this point.. The reason that the schools are in this state is because to the “special needs” and ESL classrooms being eliminated. Instead of all these TA’s in several classrooms maybe they should have their own designated classrooms for these kids and be taught in. In an environment that they will have the ability to learn at their own pace and with more individual attention. The kids would probably feel more comfortable because the classroom environment would not have the same pressures as the mainstream classroom. You saying you have lost your voice well I hear your cry but it all comes down to where your pay cheque comes from. It is not money from Profit that is paying them. It is the tax dollars that are WAY to high. It is exactly what you said about deciding to take not less wages because your wages did not go down they just didn’t go up just like the people paying your wages. Their cheques are not going up either but in your case you are getting better benefits in lieu.. I can say for a fact that some people that pay your wages are not getting raises but are also losing the benefits that they once did have due to cut backs. Welcome to the real world I say… How many of us workers that pay your wages can go to our employers and Demand more money and better benefits and use hostage taking tactics to get what we want. I don’t think it is right that “some” classrooms are like what you claim they are in your letter. But I also don’t think asking for 15% more money over 3 years when the people that have to pay for that increase are not getting an increase to facilitate that. Teachers are special people because I know for a fact it is a job I would never like to do but they know what it is all about before they get hired… these issues have been going on for years. You teach because you have a love for teaching. I am sorry but as soon as you join a union you do lose your voice! The union is exactly that… They speak for you and have their own agenda that has to be met now that is what they are there for. You also have to realize that your paycheque comes from people that are mostly not supported by a union and in fact have no voice at all when it comes to your demands. How about we have a referendum for the people to decide what is right and just. You would have a whole lot more support if you all try to agree on what it is that you want. Here is something to think about…
    Parents all get together and decide that they are sick of the crap that is going on on both sides and decide as a whole that we are no longer going to pay for the School taxes on our property taxes and demand that any income tax dollars are no longer filtered to the schools. We are all going to use the money saved to either send our kids to Private Schools or home school our kids or start up our own home school groups to help out with the working families. Then when you show up to work and not have any or very few kids to teach… Then they close the schools and you are out of work. Hmmmm I guess asking for all the demands at once might not have been a great idea. The people can only take so much… Really reevaluate your demands and if you are truly in it for the love of the kids and are happy with making more that some 2 income homes make and survive. Then maybe people will listen and side for you. I will be the first person out there with you to get more help in the way of special class rooms for kids who cannot make it or cope with the mainstream system.. Since when did it become that the majority has to suffer because of the minority.. Just as you said in your story about the kids that only talk to you once a week in a whole year… It is those kids that are in fact suffering. Sorry but it is not callousness it is true!

    I appreciate your case but I cannot side with the money demands… There is plenty in the system.. If maybe your Union really cared then the demands should be that the waste in the administration is eliminated and that the wealthy be taxed lots more to pay our suffering teachers.

    Now before everyone attacks me for my comments… Try looking at it from another point of view. Try looking at it from the `mainstream` parents point of view and from the point of view of the single mom that uses a food bank to put food on her kids table because her boss can`t afford giving raises or benefits and she is happy she has a job but cannot afford any more tax dollars. Trying removing yourself from one side or the other and see it from both sides. Shame on the Government and Shame on the BCTF for letting conditions get to this. There is a lot of money out there to facility most of the needs of the BCTF but there is not enough for a 15% increase over the next 3 years.. I can`t speak from a fact that our house hold has not had a raise in 6 years and we have also lost our extended health coverage as of last August and we do not have a pension aside from the CPP that we all know wont be there when we need it anyway… And no my husband is not a lazy worker in fact with every annual review he is considered a very valuable asset to his company but there is just no more money….Consider yourself fortunate for what you do have and maybe think of other people before you assume we can just afford it and should just Suck it up and take what ever comes…

    Fight for what is really the Key issue and that seems by this letter is the classroom sizes and the “special needs“ situation…

    Oh and by the way… if we did cross your picket line and drop our kids off at school…. How would they be treated once this is all over…. would the “hard core“ union teachers treat them with respect and not take out on them anger because their parents did not agree with or support the strike… I know of some teachers that would not be professional in this matter and maybe yes if the principal had more discipline abilities then this would not happen….

    Go ahead… start the defensive attacks….. Just looking at it from all points of view….

    • robert Says:

      very well said and i agree with you !!!!!

    • Katie Says:

      Just to clarify. There is no picket line and that is why you may drop your kids off at their school. We are protesting, not picketing. Administration and all support workers and members of CUPE will be in the schools.

    • Jason P Says:

      Hi Tawnya, here is another point of view:

      Arguing that teachers (or anyone for that matter) don’t deserve a raise because your household hasn’t gotten one in 6 years is a very sad, defeatist argument. If the people who fought for minimum wage, CPP, labour rules pertaining to overtime, vacation pay (and all the other labour-related “freebies” people take for granted), believed what you believe, those things would not be a reality today. If the “common people” side with their government’s underhanded tactics, maybe these things will be the next thing to go. I assume your household makes more money than minimum wage. By your argument, that isn’t fair to those people who have to live on $9.50/hr.

      You are also buying into the gov’ts propaganda that increased teachers’ wages will mean increased taxes. The money is (was) there already. Instead of going to education & healthcare, it fills the pockets of greedy politicians who vote in their own extravagant raises & bonuses, and to greedy corporations via exorbitant tax cuts. Governments also have a great tendency to blow money in their general operations that would absolutely bankrupt any private organization. Just for one example, how much do you think the gov’t pays yearly on plane & helicopter business trips that could just as easily be accomplished with tele- or web- conferencing? Here’s the new motto for the Liberal gov’t: “Blame your teachers and health care workers for the decline in your own disposable income. It ain’t us.” And you’ve bought their b.s. hook-line-and-sinker. Shame on you.

      If you choose not to be in a union and stay in a job with a company that doesn’t give you a raise in 6 years, what have you settled for? Maybe you don’t think you could find anything better. Maybe the company you work for isn’t lying to you and really can’t afford to give you a raise. But, maybe, just maybe, they aren’t willing to give you a raise because they aren’t willing to NOT take a raise themselves, even if you and your fellow employees are the ones who really keep the company afloat. Maybe you should look at joining a union instead of helping the gov’t to destroy them. In a perfect world, unions wouldn’t exist and employers would treat their workers fairly and equitably.

      I’m not in the teacher’s union, but I am pretty confident that the 15% over 3 years was a starting point for the union, not a be-all-and-end-all demand. If you’ve ever done any bargaining yourself, you know you start higher (or, lower, if you’re buying) than what you want/expect and work backwards from there. Unfortunately, this fact isn’t reported in the media and so many people don’t understand how bargaining works. The gov’t LOVES to play this to their own end and feed off the “ignorance of the masses”.

      You also argue that teachers shouldn’t ask for a raise because they like their jobs, “know what they were getting into”, and care about the kids? Are you kidding me?? However, that does explain why you would stay in a job that hasn’t given you a raise in 6 years. If your boss came to you tomorrow and increased your workload significantly (class size), asked you to take care of his/her unruly kids while you were at work because the cost of a babysitter was too much, and then told you not to expect an increase in pay for the extra work, how would you feel? Do you think you would be “holding him/her hostage” if you asked for more pay? Forget taking a few days off to try to convince your boss that his demands are excessive, most people without unions would just quit and start looking for a better employer. Your boss would just hire someone dumb enough or desperate enough to take the abuse. Now, throw in the fact that the “work” we are talking about is our kids, the future, our future.

      Maybe you’d be better off seeing it from that point of view.

      • mountainmam Says:

        Jason, you say: I’m not in the teacher’s union, but I am pretty confident that the 15% over 3 years was a starting point for the union, not a be-all-and-end-all demand.

        One of the main sticking points in the stalled negotiations has been wages. The BCTF is asking for a 15 per cent increase over three years and has not been willing to acceot anything less! I would back the teachers 100 per cent if they were fighting for smaller class sizes, better working conditions, etc., but how dare teachers say it’s not about the money. It’s all their other complaints that are the bargaining chips…

      • Jason P Says:

        Hi mountainmam, in response to your statement, I’m going to borrow another person’s comment because I don’t think I can say it better:

        Scott says:

        “In the last few years I have come to learn a few things: our union leaders will always bring the wage demands to the table because they know that a great majority of the teachers in BC would be willing to continually give up wage demands in favour of concessions in the areas of class size and composition, resources etc. This is where the union can help you and make sure you still get a competitive wage, because they will take the rap as the ‘bad guy’ that has the nerve to ask for wage increase. Although you can see in many of these negative replies, even doesn’t always work as the general public likes call all teachers greedy. It doesn’t help that it is usually the ONLY demand we bring to the table that the media reports on. There are several other important issues and demands the union would like to negotiate, but these are seldom mentioned in news reports.

        This brings me to the art of negotiation, a principle that seems lost on every negative reply to this letter. What these people that want to call us greedy fail to understand is that you don’t want to come to a bargain table with one demand, because then you have nothing to bargain with. When you come to a FAIR negotiation table, you might only leave with a third of your demands. You give up something to get something. So maybe this time we would give up any wage increase for, say, a hard cap on class sizes in intermediates (something we used to have). The problem was this government came to the table unwilling to concede anything. Instead, they had a list of changes they wanted, but were unwilling to trade anything we wanted off. That’s how negotiating is supposed to work. As we see now, they were clearly just biding their time (wasting tax payer’s money, mind you), going through the motions of negotiating, all the while knowing eventually the education minister would introduce the legislation the way they wanted it.”

        Until you sit at the bargaining table and see the discussions going on, you are absolutely wrong to assume (making an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ & ‘me’, lol) that the wage issue is more important than the other issues. Above, you are hearing from a teacher (Scott) who is part of the BCTF, and it sounds like he’s been so for a long time. I would think that he has a better idea of what is going on in the minds & hearts of teachers.

        I would suggest you educate yourself about what fair bargaining between unions and employers entails. Also, absolutely DO NOT rely on the media alone for your view of the truth. They are interested in sensationalism because that is what sells papers.

    • Kevin Says:

      I’ve said it once before in this massive blog, but everyone is quick to compare their situation with others. It is human nature. Maybe there does exist two-income families who don’t make as much as a teacher. However, I know there exists families with two-teacher-incomes that don’t make as much as some government workers.

      My point is that we have to compare apples to apples. If someone is in a job that requires 5 years of post secondary education and they make less than other jobs with the same education requirement then they have an argument, and we should all hear them out. However, if they don’t have that kind of education, then they cannot say that they deserve more, or that others with the education should only get what lower income earners get.

      • Jason P Says:

        Hi Kevin, I agree, it’s like the old saying “misery loves company”. If I’m making shit wages or my working condition aren’t great and I don’t have any recourse to climb out of that hole, why should anyone else be able to? That’s really what a lot of these posters are saying, but I don’t think they realize it.

        In my eyes, this way of thinking is why we there is such a wide divide between the poor, working class, and the rich. The so called “middle class” almost doesn’t even exist any more, they are a dying animal. Why do “the people” put up with it? We are so intent on bringing each other down that we fail to stand together. Or, maybe I’m just a foolish idealist, lmao.

    • Leigh Says:

      Absolute perfection, you nailed it!! BRAVO!

  96. lise Says:

    WOW Cheryl!!! I don’t know you, but your letter is amazing. I we have a 1 year old, and we are currently doing research on home schooling due to our mistrust, and uncertainty in the school system. If we have enough support behind people like yourself, I hope the government will open their eyes and make some drastic changes. I hate seeing so many children who deserve a good chance fall through the cracks.
    THANK YOU!!

  97. As we have teachers in our family, I was made aware of your blog through a niece’s facebook comment. Good on you for speaking up for the ‘many’, students and teachers. Our children spend more time with teachers than with their own families. Thus the ‘job’ the teachers have to give the ‘future of the world’, our children, to enjoy learning, as well as striving for good grades, preparing them for a successful, healthy life, that ‘job’ is the most important one of all in society! Cheryl, you are a jewel among many jems, thanks for speaking ‘out’ and hopefully your words do not fall upon deaf ears, for the sake of the future, The Children!

  98. Kasia Says:

    I’m just going to put in my 2 cents. What the government is doing with this bill is not democratic anymore. It hasn’t been for a while. It’s Dictatorship. Plain and simple.

    • Tawnya Says:

      What are they doing!!! It is going through the legislative assembly for a fair reading… That is democracy at its finest… My goodness they have the power to pass it on their own but have chosen to allow the opposition to have their say….

      What about what the BCTF is doing to the children`s education….. It is law to educate your children… So I have to pay taxes for it no matter if I have kids or not… So they need to find another way to get their DEMANDS met other than hijacking the children`s education!

  99. Paul Janz Says:

    For those of us who lead a busy life, but have no school age children, the media’s treatment of the issues is often misleading. Intentional or not, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful” (George Orwell)

    …”among other things teachers are demanding a 15% wage hike”….. a common phrase used often by the news media, which by its very wording only serves to mislead the average Joe. By not specifying ‘among other things’, by inference teachers are greedy.

    So why has the BCTF been so ineffective in educating the public about the real issues that teachers care about?
    My son and daughter-in-law are both teachers and to suggest that a wage hike is their most pressing concern is frankly obscene. In fact it hardly figures at all in conversations we have.

    • Amanda Says:

      I honestly think that a large part of the problem is that the people in the BCTF are so disengaged from the actual education system. I think, to them, the important part of the this agreement IS the money. A lot of the time they don’t share the ideals and views of the majority of the teaching staf. But the views of the BCTF are those taken to represent all teachers and until they start to represent what teachers actually think nothing will ever change. Strikes will continue to happen and hostility will continue to be faced in regards to these strikes.

      I am currently a student studying to be a teacher and I have been told countless times to persue another degree as a will never find a job as a teacher and when I do I will not be making enough money to support myself. But money has never been the driving factor for me. Its making a difference for the kids and I (idealistically) believe that this is the case for a majority of teachers.

      I also think it is very easy for the media and opposing people to take a few bad examples and generalize them to the teaching profession. Its a lot easier to make them feel good about their decisions and make themselves look good when they only consider this small subset of teachers out there. Its unfortunate, but thats politics!

      I kind of got off topic at the end there, but this is a passionate subject for me.

      • Scott Says:

        Amanda,
        I felt the exact same way as you when I was just getting into teaching about 10 years ago. Don’t ever let anyone talk you out of getting into education (you might want avoid reading some of these replies to this letter). It it the best job in the world for a person with your ideals. For me, and for you, it won’t feel like a job, but a mission. You never watch the clock or count the days until a holiday. Despite all these people accusing us of ‘whining’ and ‘griping’, most teachers (about 90% in my experience) are fighting for these things because they help us be more successful teachers.

        I also would have agreed with your view on our union leaders and the salary desires, even back during the walk out in 2005. In the last few years I have come to learn a few things: our union leaders will always bring the wage demands to the table because they know that a great majority of the teachers in BC would be willing to continually give up wage demands in favour of concessions in the areas of class size and composition, resources etc. This is where the union can help you and make sure you still get a competitive wage, because they will take the rap as the ‘bad guy’ that has the nerve to ask for wage increase. Although you can see in many of these negative replies, even doesn’t always work as the general public likes call all teachers greedy. It doesn’t help that it is usually the ONLY demand we bring to the table that the media reports on. There are several other important issues and demands the union would like to negotiate, but these are seldom mentioned in news reports.

        This brings me to the art of negotiation, a principle that seems lost on every negative reply to this letter. What these people that want to call us greedy fail to understand is that you don’t want to come to a bargain table with one demand, because then you have nothing to bargain with. When you come to a FAIR negotiation table, you might only leave with a third of your demands. You give up something to get something. So maybe this time we would give up any wage increase for, say, a hard cap on class sizes in intermediates (something we used to have). The problem was this government came to the table unwilling to concede anything. Instead, they had a list of changes they wanted, but were unwilling to trade anything we wanted off. That’s how negotiating is supposed to work. As we see now, they were clearly just biding their time (wasting tax payer’s money, mind you), going through the motions of negotiating, all the while knowing eventually the education minister would introduce the legislation the way they wanted it.

        Stay strong, we need people like you to keep make our education system better!

      • Jason P Says:

        Amen to that, Scott! Very well said!

    • Melspeth Says:

      Paul, The BCTF issues press releases almost daily, but you will be lucky to see them in the mainstream media. Most media outlets are owned/run by friends and supporters of the BC Liberals, and thus, are happy to filter out anything that contradicts or outright disproves the party line. For BCTF information, you’ll have to go straight to the source: http://bctf.ca/NewsReleases.aspx

      This 15% figure is a manipulation. It is another tool in the Liberal-friendly media to outrage the public and create enmity against teachers. Shame on them.

  100. Linda Smith Says:

    As a member of a PAC my thought this morning after hearing the announcement for the strike was exactly what you mentioned – “Wonder if I should contact all 250 parents and encourage them to drop off their children at school on Monday morning?” Excellent read and sadly every word is true. Thank you.

  101. Richard Says:

    The whole education system needs to be privatized – period. Just about everything government touches is run poorly, ineffiently and sub-par. This one size fits all approach to education just doesn’t work for a lot of kids.
    People are individuals, and have all different kinds of learning abilities and types of learning. What we need is choice and freedom to choose.
    The current system of government run, top down bureacratic directed and public sector unionized work force only benefits the worst teachers. It fails everyone else by brining it down to the lowest common denominator.

    • Tawnya Says:

      well said and to the perfect point… !!!!!

      • Rachel Says:

        What kind of private school do you proport? Our society is only as good as it treats its most vulnerable. Eliminate the righteously hoity toity private schools and have those children get a real education in working with regular people through the public system. Private schools without ulterior motives, that work for all and the underdogs of society no matter their stripe are few and far in between. From my experience most who attend private schools do so to exclude themselves from the mainstream whether their reasons be religious, cultural or they’re just swimming in old money. Not healthy for our society as a whole.

      • Anneke Says:

        Well said Rachel!!!

    • Jonathon Says:

      I completely agree that parents (and students) deserve more say and more choice in their education. Bravo! But there are several problems with your other points.

      First, public school is run by the people for the people. You, as a citizen, have a say in how our school system is structured. Lobby your MLA and you may get results. Fire your school trustees if you don’t like them. With private schools you have a choice, but only the choice between what various corporations are willing to offer. If no private school in your area has what you’re looking for, or if you have issue with one or another policy of your child’s school, tough beans. You can stay or you can go somewhere else. Those are your only options.

      Second, choice costs money. The public system has no fat to cut because there is no space for movement. Let’s say all the schools in your district were unique, separate, charter schools, each with its own way of doing things and its own educational focus. Great! I wish we had that. Let’s leave aside for now whether these schools are public (and run under a system where they have a pre-established budget to spend or it disappears) or private (where it must, must turn a profit for its shareholders). It is enough that you can now choose to send your child to the soccer magnet school, the arts academy, the Christian school, the Muslim school, the traditional Ivy League destined school, or the humanistic feel-good school. That’s a lot of schools. Every single one of these schools is going to have to build more capacity than it has students to fill. They aren’t going to be able to predict for certain how many students they’ll have from year to year, what resources they’ll need, and heaven forbid a whole bunch of parents decide to move their kids in the middle of a semester. Even worse if a whole bunch of parents want to move in but there’s no space. And then there’s the cost to advertise to parents to rope in new students, the cost of textbooks and supplies not shared by the entire province and bought in bulk, the need to build franchises in every district to compete with other schools… it could really add up.

      When it comes to budgets, public schools spin straw into gold everyday. They waste nothing and leave no classroom at less than capacity. They hang on to resources for decades and never replace them. More choice and diversity would be great. But who’s going to pay for it when the province says taxpayers can’t even afford they system we’ve got?

    • Naomi Lazarus Says:

      Well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford $15,000 to send my one child to school every year. The public school system doesn’t need to be scrapped; it needs to be fixed. Privatizing means that services are performed for profit, for shareholders. It makes everything more expensive. Just look at the horrific situation with health care, south of the border. If you can’t afford your treatment, you don’t get any. If the school system was privatized, more than half of BC kids would go uneducated entirely.

  102. lenoresc28 Says:

    As a parent, I love your article /blog; for one thing it is one of the few pro-teacher articles I’ve read that doesn’t put down & criticize parents. You understand the difference between what the government is doing and what parents can do. As well, I love how you point out all the things you can now do for your students with the administration work cut out, things that parents & teachers don’t usually have time for.

    My son, now 15, has with many special needs but is also very bright in some ways and so I have had lots of problems with the school system, especially once he officially entered high school, fighting to get the best program for him. Fortunately, he had some good elementary years and now I have him out of a “special needs/ life skills” they put him in for grade 8, against my better judgement, and he is now at a different school in a program made for him, his learning skills & education are improving instead of him going backwards.

    However, I know, and I believe most parents do, that most of the problems with public education have to do with the system, the lack of funding, and the government’s attitude towards teachers along with the actions and underfunding that are destroying public education.

    Yes, we have had some problems with teachers who have treated me, the parent, as someone who knows nothing and should stay away; there are still too many school staff who do not respect parents nor want to work together as peers even if they had time. But the teachers who are like you, which one can see in what you write, have done my son a world of good, and are in the majority.

    What is good for teachers isn’t always good for students and/or families and there will always be issues to explore and change as education evolves. But without any doubt a government that treats teachers with the sublime disrespect the Liberals do definitely hurt teachers, students, parents, and our whole society.

    I support the teacher’s actions and I hope somehow this government will change this destructive course. I don’t have much hope, but we can’t give up fighting.

    Thanks again for a fair and judicious article,

  103. Well said Cheryl. Thanks!

  104. Hence why I quit being a nurse. It’s too costly, and too many run-ins with government “policies” that prevented me from doing my real job and helping people retain or regain their health!

  105. Sabrina Says:

    Hi Cheryl,

    What a wonderful post. With regards to your comment about the student who is not passing grade 12 and his parents blaming it on not receiving the report card – you hit the nail on the head! I, too, was thinking “Why didn’t these parents speak to the educators? Why didn’t they seek answers when they could have done something to help their son? And, why aren’t these parents communicating better with their child, and being proactive about his learning? I would love to see you send this to a newspaper and hope that it gets published. I wish this was the sort of thing the general public could read, so they could be better informed about the situation teachers in B.C. are facing. Brilliantly written!

  106. A Says:

    Very well put. And if the BCTF focused on these real, crucial issues around class size and composition instead of prioritizing bigger paycheques, perhaps the message would get across to the rest of British Columbians. Perhaps this job action would have a lot more power and support behind it. Parents care about the learning environment of their children. This job action has been a missed opportunity.

    • Dana Says:

      Dead on!

    • Jen Says:

      Absolutely

    • Jason P Says:

      The gov’t refuses to negotiate on those items. The BCTF hasn’t “prioritized” wage increases. Rather, that is what the gov’t and the media have focused on because they know it will cause the most sensationalism. If you cared to actually read the News Releases by the BCTF, you would see that their main concern is class sizes and conditions, something the Supreme Court has agreed should be negotiable, but the gov’t has conveniently decided to ignore until April 2013. The BCTF is using the wage issue in hopes to push the gov’t into looking into those very valid concerns. That may be a strategic error on the BCTF’s part, given the general public’s lack of understanding of bargaining and the ignorant belief that a raise will increase their tax rate. The BCTF should at least state this as well, it would give an understanding to the public if they outwardly said wages aren’t a real issue. On the other side of the coin, would that be anything like showing your hand in poker?

  107. John MacLeod Says:

    This is a very good letter to open the eyes of everyone that reads it. It should get read by your MP but sadly, most likely will not. I have watched the Legislature on TV and see how hard they work saying the same thing over and over again, the same with whichever party is in there. Let them go into a classroom and try to do what you do for even a day. They would all retire and collect their outragous pentions.

    I also hear how some parents put their kids in private schools, that is good for them, what about all the people that can’t afford to do that. Thats why we have public schooling so everyone can sent their kids to school. The private school system will have its problem in the future with funding I think, then what happens.

    Parents are a big part of the misunderstanding as most really don’t want anything to do with their childs education because they see it as free time from their kids. They work hard at their jobs and in the evening they want to relax, not help with homework. I was to blame in this area as a parent, fortunately my wife was there and was asking the kids all the time about what was going on at school. She would contact the teachers and go to meetings to find out how our kids were doing. More parents have to be diligent in this area or the child will always say things are fine or the teacher doesn’t do this or that.

    I am very upset that this has come to this extreme for the teachers. The government seems to come up with money for other wastefull things that they think is more vital than education. A balaced budget will never happen as each new political party will point out when they win the election that the last party spent to much and the province is in a huge deposit and the same old same old starts again.

    Good for you for your letter, more people have to speak out, only then will the voice of the public wake up the sleeping polititions. Votes count, to bad they did not make a difference.

  108. Robin Says:

    It is classroom circumstances that you have described that are the reason I will be putting my own children in private school. It is unfortunate that there are so many other children and teachers that must endure in the system as it is.

    All the best!

  109. Maja Grip Says:

    Cheryl, you ROCK. I just sent this to my husband (who teaches in Vancouver and has been working so hard on these issues for so many years) and I’ve shared it on FB, too. Your piece puts the situation so clearly and accurately and with so much heart and intelligence. Thanks!!!

  110. Deb Says:

    Hear, hear! Now let’s pray the government listens.

  111. Tracy Says:

    I am with the teachers all the way!!!! The parents that are complaining put yourself in there shoes ,as a parent of a child with ADHD I have a hard enough time working with him and having time for my other children. To take on 5 6 7 or more children with special needs and still have time for the other 23 I can’t even imagine. These teachers need our support so they can get support for our children!

  112. jenincanada Says:

    Brava! Thank you so much for writing this and pouring your heart out. I hope that your letter, and many others, make it onto the desks of our legislators and into the permanent public record. Thank you for everything you do every day for the students and for fighting so hard. What you do matters. You matter. Our kids matter. I am with you.

  113. Carl Says:

    What a great afticle. Im not a parent but will be someday and i hope my future child has a teachet like you! I fully support teachers! Good luck in your battle.

  114. Geneva Scoville Says:

    I was linked to your blog by a friend on FB, and I cannot express how moving your post was! I’m a teacher in BC, and although I’m no longer a classroom teacher (I’ve taught at an online school in central BC for the past eight years), I am a fervent supporter of teacher/student rights and actively engage in our actions to improve teacher/student conditions throughout the province. Your eloquent portrayal of the struggles teachers face on a daily basis made me cry! My daughter is currently in Grade 12, so she’s lived most of her educational life under the burden of our current government’s attacks on teachers and the educational system as a whole. Luckily she’s one of the ones who can ‘cope’ and has made it through relatively unscathed, but not without seeing firsthand the struggle teachers have to help those in need even knowing they can’t possibly do so on any given day.

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful, insightful, and powerful words, they express so clearly why action cannot stop as we fight for our profession and our students’ very futures!

  115. Tara Says:

    Cheryl, this is an amazing, impassioned, truthful piece of writing. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us are thinking.

  116. Kat Says:

    Dear Cheryl,

    I am not a teacher, nor do I have any children, but I am dismayed (to put it lightly, disgusted to be frank)about the current situation between our government and the BCTF. As I read your story, it reminded me of my experience through elementary and secondary school years. The state of your teaching conditions, are absolutely terrible and are, unfortunately, not unique. I attended elementary and secondary school in North Vancouver from 1991 to 2003. It is sad that the government finds the following conditions acceptable: a part of the roof of my highschool collapsed into a classroom when school was in session, asbestos was found in the walls of the older wings (walls that were cracking and partially open due to a section of the roof collapsing), I was told I was limited in the number of academic courses I could take in highschool because of cut-backs, there were rarely enough text books to supply the entire class, the library wasn’t open more than a few hours/week, and I never had a class with less than 30 students in it. Conditions during the time that I went to school were already rapidly deteriorating, That was almost a decade ago now; I hate to think what it would be like for a student in today’s classrooms. It baffles me as to how the government thinks students can succeed in the environment they are faced with at school. My husband and I are seriously considering settling outside of BC when we have children in order to give them what we consider an acceptable learning environment. We don’t want to leave, but feel we will eventually have to in order to give our future children access to a fair education system.

  117. Bad Timing Says:

    While I empathize with your position, your timing could not be poorer. The time to have your hand out for more is when the coffers are full. Instead, they are empty. My kids go to private school, so they are not directly affected by your strike. However, you are indirectly affecting my children by taking more money out of my pocket, to pay for a public service that we don’t even use, and affecting my ability to be able to pay for my kids through school.

    In a different time, I might support your pleas for more money. But when most of us are already stretched thin right now, you want more. Bad timing. Bad judgment. Shame on you.

    • HOAX Says:

      money money money

    • Katie Says:

      Your argument is a little flawed as a portion of our taxes go towards private education as well.

      • Rachel Says:

        More money to public education in the form of your taxes will be a saving in the long run if you look at how public education affects children… maybe not your children but the ones that your children may work for or with or marry… It affects the society that we will have in the future. Taking care of just your kids is not okay. It takes a village to raise a child. How’s our village doing if those of us with a little extra cash to put our child(ren) in a private school withdraw from the public system and just focus on our own little circles? Who’s left behind? This issue is about so much more than money.
        BUT Front loading HST payments to the feds and other fancy financial (budget) maneuvers have been sly in trying to make teachers requests sound unreasonable.

    • Wylee Guy Smiley Says:

      Timing? Our contract was up. Something that people seem to forget. We didn’t just suddenly come up with a list of demands out of the blue.

    • J Says:

      Private education for your children is a CHOICE that you made. Keep in mind that taxes are supporting to public education so that EVERYONE has adequate literacy and numeracy skills and can function in society. If you don’t like paying taxes to a system your children aren’t benefiting from, then maybe you should ditch private education for public. We would love to have your support to make the public system better for everyone in BC.

  118. gerry busch Says:

    Love what you wrote, I wish that the teacher or someone would call a peaceful protest where people like me that support the teachers can come out and stand with the teachers, because there is many of us that are sick and tired of what the government is doing to the teacher and many other unions. Solidarity for ever, united we stand, strength in numbers.

    • Katie Says:

      High school students have arranged a peaceful protest at the Vancouver Art Gallery tomorrow at 3pm. I already know of several parents who will be attending as well.

    • Katie Says:

      Also, you are always welcome to stand with us on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Teachers will be outside of every school in the province.

  119. Lisa Redfern Says:

    I’m not a teacher, nor a parent, and I have NEVER agreed with the idea of teachers being an ‘essential service’. I support your right to strike and I so appreciate what teachers do. As a member of the general public I don’t have anything but positives to say about teachers as a whole, and appreciate their struggles to educate kids. Thank you for a lovely and thoughtful post, it was enlightening!

  120. Trev Says:

    The problem is that your union doesn’t understand that it is NET ZERO. The Government is prepared to go to mediation to discuss the main issues. Hell you might even get a small raise. Explain to me why you think Teacher’s should get yearly pay increases??? That makes absolutely no sense. Please look up the current economics in our province and our country and let us know how that makes sense? There is a lot that can be worked out. However, it seems that the true colors of all of this has been all about making more money. The Billions that you are asking for is ridiculous. Your Union head is not doing you any favors. Why can the strongest Unions in the province negotiate with the government and the BCTF can’t? Don’t get me wrong, I strongly agree with a lot of what teacher’s want, I get your plight and it was explained well in the write up above, but NET ZERO..is NET ZERO. Your union wants the moon, and it’s not going to happen. Why do you teachers continuously vote for a leader of your union who can’t negotiate? Also public perception is everything and you have not done yourselves any favors. The general public get your plight, but your Union is letting you down. Susan Lambert needs to go. For the love of God find a leader who doesn’t come off as an old greedy hag. As long as she is the head of your union you will not be successful in negotiations. The BCTF needs to stop playing games and accept the mediation tabled by the Government. You can draw the line in the sand all you want but in the end you are an essential service. If you don’t like teaching in BC, go to Saskatchewan because there is HIGH DEMAND to be a teacher in this great province. Get on with the issues and get away from more money. Not going to happen.

    • Tawnya Says:

      Hear Hear!!! Well said and to the point. I couldn’t agree more.. In fact I think I will quote you in my next round of discussion with individuals with their blinders on!!!

      • well Trev….how did this present gov’t find the money to put a overpriced roof on an old stadium?…or how did they fund an overpriced convention centre….where was the ‘net zero’ when these overpriced megaprojects were planned??
        and was there not some HST brochures printed up that ended up being trashed…but still cost somewhere around $1 mil for paper, printing and production…yeah, net zero rhetoric dude

    • Petina Says:

      Moving to another province to teach is not as simple as it sounds. Just as every foreign doctor who comes to Canada has to do his/her residency over again and pay up to $4000 to write an exam that would determine whether or not they get permission to practice; so too do teachers have to re-do their practicum and re-certify in most provinces if they move from one to another. It’s not like Canada has a single standardized curriculum that would allow for transferability.

    • Jason P Says:

      The gov’t refuses to negotiate the “main items”. The gov’t and the media have focused on wage increase offers because they know it will cause the most sensationalism. If you cared to actually read the News Releases by the BCTF, you would see that their main concern is class sizes and conditions, something the Supreme Court has agreed should be negotiable, but the gov’t has conveniently decided to ignore until April 2013.

      The BCTF is using the wage issue in hopes to push the gov’t into looking into those very valid concerns. That may be a strategic error on the BCTF’s part, given the general public’s lack of understanding of bargaining and the ignorant belief that a raise will increase their tax rate. The BCTF should at least state this as well, it would give an understanding to the public if they outwardly said wages aren’t a serious issue. On the other side of the coin, would that be anything like showing your hand in poker?

      Check your facts further, it is the BCTF who have asked for arbitration, even if appointed by the Labour Board. This is of HUGE significance. If you don’t know, the difference between arbitration and mediation is that both parties agree to be bound by the final resolution the outside party determines under arbitration. Mediation is simply a decision that neither party has to accept. Ask yourself why your gov’t is afraid to engage in that process. They obviously realize that what they are doing is wrong, and it will be sniffed out by an independent person.

      The union and the gov’t did submit to an outside party coming in and objectively looking at the bargaining process, btw. What the gov’t wants, through Bill 22, is to bring in an arbitrator bound by the gov’ts net-zero-mandate as well as ignoring those things like class sizes, etc that the Supreme Court ruled was illegally & unconstitutionally taken away from teachers. Essentially, this is not an independent arbitrator. Imagine if the BCTF insisted on having an arbitrator who’s mandate was that teacher’s would get 15% over three years, no matter what? Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?

      It is an absolute fascist joke of a system we live under if the govt’s plans go through, and people like you, who stand by and let it happen, should be the most ashamed for what you will have inflicted upon your children and future generations.

  121. trish Says:

    Cheryl–

    As a mother of 3 school age children, and a supporter of good teachers everywhere….you have brought me to tears. I am speechless and I support you.

    Thank you for caring about our children.

  122. Kandie Says:

    Parents need to see this! My poor sister is freaking because the end of it shes getting is the teachers refusing to talk to her about her kids progress unless she demands a meeting, and mainstream media is making alot of it look like the teachers are only out for themselves and their pay increases,etc. I think alot of parents really feel frusterated and left in the dark after all these details are not made clear.
    I live in Alberta, and our public school system is over flooded and under funded. Ive pulled my kids from public education and opted for private. The government needs to put more value on education because our kids are suffering!

  123. Thank you SO much for writing such an informative, and accurate article!

  124. From another teacher, well said. You had me in tears.

  125. Tawnya Says:

    Sounds like it is time to take the Education system away from the 2 parties that can`t get it to work and privatize it! Sounds like the only solution now!

    • CarolynR Says:

      Private education is not 100% privately funded. I’m amazed at how many ignorant people are out there. Do your research. Private education is public-funded partially!

      Yeah, where is the logic to that?

      • alex Says:

        Public funding for private education differs from province to province – and even in provinces it differs from private organization to private organization. I work at a privately funded, 100% self-supported school in BC. Yes, I’ve done my research.

    • Katie Says:

      But how is a private education any better when the majority of parents could not afford it. Many parents who have children with special needs pay an arm and a leg for behavioral specialists to work with their children after school hours. How exactly is private education the right way to go? It’s completely exclusionary.

  126. Sandra Murphy (mother of teacher) Says:

    FABULOUS LETTER, I only hope that more teachers take the time to write to the legislator and have this bill stopped!!! Talk about Bullying, what do they think they are doing.

  127. Christina Smith Says:

    You had me until you compared your legal right to strike against my legal right as a parent to remove my kid from school for a few days. I’m glad you wrote the letter. . .I hate loss of control over the government too. . .but here, in Victoria, on the street corners, the signs say “AB teachers make 20% more.”. Tell me that’s about the kids.

  128. Dana Says:

    Thank you for posting this clear and informative letter. As a parent, I have felt fairly “out of the loop” as to what the problems really are facing our education system and what teachers are really asking for. To be honest, the BCTF has been, in my opinion, extremely negligent to the point of incompetence on communicating to the public what the issues are and what teachers are wanting to get out of this job action. I visited the BCTF website last August to try and get a sense of what exactly you were fighting for, and sadly, it seemed as though the BCTF was using ridiculous benefits such as the extended paid leaves etc to bargain with the gov’t. Obviously I know that most teachers are, like yourself; wanting what is best for the students and the system as a whole. However, the BCTF really screwed up the PR last summer and did not effectively communicate what, I think, most teachers feel are the important issues. As a parent with three children in public education I can assure you, THE GENERAL PUBLIC IS NOT AWARE OF THE MESS OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM IS IN! No one is getting the message out to the parents and taxpayers of this Province. It is not enough to run ads saying that teachers want more resources, or smaller classes, or more assistance for special needs. The impact is not being shown, and people are not understanding how negetively this is impacting their children.
    Going forward, I hope you are able to get your message out to the masses. I will do my part and share. While I don’t think much will change in the short term for our education system, perhaps if more teachers like yourself use social media to get your message out, the public will start to support you as they should. Perhaps you should also consider a career change and take over as head of the BCTF!

  129. Asif Says:

    So quit and do something else. No shortage of academics being pumped out of the teacher mills.

  130. tam Says:

    Thank you for writing this well informed article. I hope it is read at the legislature.

    As a mother of a preschooler set to enter kindergarten this fall, I feel sick to my stomach that she will be entering a public school system that so grossly undervalues education, learning conditions and teachers.

    I also applaud you for pointing out what parents of children can do to ensure they are abreast of their learning objectives for the year. We all share this responsibility.

    Sadly, we are considering private school. Not a very affordable option, but with the state of the conditions as outlined in your article, we fear we have little choice.

    Thank you again for you time, dedication, passion and support for children. You are valued. I support teachers like yourself all the way.

  131. Dan Goodwin Says:

    What a refreshing read! My wife and I have chosen to homeschool our children for exactly the reasons that you have pointed out here. We put our children’s education first. I have enough trouble lesson planning for 2 students each day, keeping them interested and entertained while trying to deliver the required curriculum (Yes, I must meet the PLOs just like every other teacher). I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would be for a public schoolteacher who has 30+ children in their class (some which require extra attention). My hat is off to you and your fellow teachers.

    Even tough my kids aren’t in the public system, I wholehartedly support your job action, and am digusted at the abuse of power by the provincial government.

  132. blonderover Says:

    Reblogged this on Making Changes and commented:
    Education is important. The students are the most affected by the quality of education they receive. The teachers aren’t greedy, but the media has latched onto the wage increase; not the smaller class sizes to deliver effective and meaningful lessons and education. Please be aware. Think critically, and evaluate both sides before you leap to your own conclusions about this issue.

  133. Andrea Coutu Says:

    Amazing post. I’ve Facebooked it to get the word out. Perhaps parents should send their kids en masse on Monday.

  134. robert Says:

    so cheryl, what is your answer or how do we fix this then?? throw money at it but from where the tax payers pockets?? i sypathize with the teachers for the conditions of the classrooms and the school but i have issues with the part about not being about the money it is for the kids but on of the first points always brought up is the 15% over 3 years, did teachers become teachers to be millionares. when i decide to be a chef i didnt expect to be a millionare cooking and i wont be BUT I ENJOYED IT !!!!!!!, somebody once told me if i wasnt happy i could always get another job.
    i have 2 children in school in school district 43 and hope this can be solved reasonably between the 2 sides.

    • Jason P Says:

      The gov’t refuses to negotiate on the important items. The BCTF has not prioritized wage increases. Rather, that is what the gov’t and the media have focused on because they know it will cause the most sensationalism. Read the News Releases by the BCTF and you’ll see that their main concern is class sizes and conditions, something the Supreme Court has agreed should be negotiable, but the gov’t has conveniently decided to ignore until April 2013.

      The BCTF is using the wage issue in hopes to push the gov’t into looking into those very valid concerns. That may be a strategic error on the BCTF’s part, given the general public’s lack of understanding of bargaining and the ignorant belief that a raise will increase their tax rate. The BCTF should at least state this as well, it would give an understanding to the public if they outwardly said wages aren’t a real issue. On the other side of the coin, would that be anything like showing your hand in poker?

      Also to note: the BCTF asked for arbitration, even if appointed by the Labour Board. This is of HUGE significance. If you don’t know, the difference between arbitration and mediation is that both parties agree to be bound by the final resolution the outside party determines under arbitration. Mediation is simply a decision that neither party has to accept. Ask yourself why your gov’t is afraid to engage in that process. They obviously realize that what they are doing is wrong, and it will be sniffed out by an independent person. Also of significance to this and to show that wages aren’t the biggest issue, in today’s climate it is likely that an independent arbitrator wouldn’t suggest a raise in pay for teachers. However, it is very likely they would want to address the working conditions.

  135. HOAX Says:

    Can anyone possibly having a job in the private sector where you can carry all your sick days through until retirement? I don’t even get paid if I take a day off due to sickness… I work hard, I work overtime (and don’t get paid). I put in my time, so do MILLIONS of other workers in BC, that don’t get summers off, Xmas off, Easter off, and everything else you have “negotiated” into your contract.

    Banking sick days UNTIL YOU RETIRE ? OH POOR YOU, OH MY GOD HOW WILL YOU SURVIVE.

    Pathetic. Suck it up, we all do without a cushy union. You make me sick.

    • Lorne Says:

      What many people forget, when discussing “sick days” , is that the School Board is required to spend about $200 hiring a TOC (Substitute teacher) when a teacher is absent….unlike most other professions where the work just gets left till the worker returns, or someone else handles things, without extra pay. I never used a sick day for 25 years, but, when I, unfortunately, contacted a nasty bacterial infection that moved me far to close to death, it was nice to have those sick days saved up. Thank goodness, the union had looked after this situation for me…and I appreciated it. If you do not have this in the private sector where you work, well, that is most unfortunate. Perhaps you might want to look into joining a Union….or going to university for 5 years and joining the crowd in the “cushy” teaching profession.

  136. M Sheridan Says:

    I very much enjoyed Cheryl’s article and was shocked at the conditions I read under which children are attempting to learn. But as beautifully written as it was, and as much as it made me sympathise with what are clearly atrocious classroom conditions, I realized that I am still left with the same questions I had before I read it.

    I am struggling, as a member of the public, to determine what exactly the teachers’ demands are. A search of the web (including the BCTF website) was not very enlightening on this, turning up numerous articles written from both sides which would make reference to a few demands as being illustrative of their points of how unreasonable the other side was. But I was unsuccessful in finding a list of the actual demands, including the exact wage demand the BCTF is making – my understanding is 16% over three years – is this accurate? I am trying to educate myself on the teachers’ position but it is difficult when I can’t even be sure of what that is! What I did find did not encourage me that the focus of the BCTF is where it should be according to Cheryl’s article. I’m having a hard time understanding how requesting 16% in wage increases over three years will help students or the terrible classroom conditions Cheryl speaks of. But perhaps it will – please feel free to explain as I have genuinely been searching for this explanation. It’s also very difficult to understand how money directed to, for example, two weeks paid leave for the death of a friend (plus two paid days for travel), a half year’s paid care (not necessarily for a family member), another week’s pay to care for a child, and paid leave to do union work is going to help children get more classroom time with their teachers, provide more textbooks to children, or provide more assistance for Special Needs children. And if teachers are requesting (understandably) that they have no more than three Special Needs children in their classroom, where will the other children go? And how would the ones who get into that classroom be selected?

    I am respectfully asking for someone to help me, as a member of the public who is relying on the information readily available, to form an educated opinion. I am not against the teachers by any means, but I find it frustrating that any article I can find on the issue counters the government’s claim of ridiculous wage demands with the argument that classroom conditions are unacceptable. I couldn’t agree more on that statement – I just want to understand what exactly the BCTF is demanding in order to improve that. Again, I’m not understanding how the wage increase, additional paid leave or the other demands I have heard of will result in a better classroom environment for the province’s children. I am sincerely open to hearing the answer to this.

    I suspect there are many others like me who are unsure of the issues and haven’t been able to find clear information to allow them to decide where they stand on this issue. If the teachers want us to understand how these demands help the educational system, students and teachers, then a clear statement of the exact demands and exactly how these will improve the situation would go a long way toward achieving this.

    Thank you.

    • Matt Says:

      M Sheridan: Those are fair comments. The initial BCTF proposal was far too bloated, and I am sure most of us wish those proposals about compassionate care and bereavement leave had never been made. (Almost none of us knows where they even came from.) They were, politically, tone-deaf, and we have been beaten over the head with them all year.

      But here are two thoughts about your question about how more money for teachers relates to the conditions Cheryl so eloquently describes.

      1. Teachers have, in the past, literally given up wage increases in exchange for limits on class size and composition. That was putting our money where our mouths are. Then this government stripped away that part of the contract in 2002. The courts found that they violated the Charter in doing so. And Bill 22 does little to alleviate it; the money it puts forward is nowhere near what has been taken out of the system over the past 10 years. After that experience, I think many teachers are thinking that never again should we bargain for such things, when they can be so easily taken away. If teachers had not accepted a zero increase in exchange for class size and composition, then we would still have the same inappropriate classes as today, but would at least be paid more. Some of us think we need to pass the torch on to parents to tell the government to get its priorities straight. They won’t listen to us, but they will listen to the public at large, if enough people speak up.

      2. You are correct that paying a teaching a higher wage will not provide better learning conditions for students. But that could be a recipe for never paying teachers any more: whenever teachers seek a wage increase (and I’m sure many of us would be delighted just to keep up with inflation), others could say that the money would be better spent in the classrooms, and taunt us that, see, this shows that we are in it for ourselves, not for the kids. The kids need more resources, but teachers deserve to be paid fairly, too.

      • Laura Says:

        Most teachers that I work with would gladly choose class size and composition over any sort of monetary gains. That being said, I have easily put thousands of dollars of my own money into my classroom, from bulletin board paper, borders, cooking supplies, art and craft supplies, snacks, puzzles, math manipulatives, books etc…as have many other teachers… How can I teach Kindergarteners to read with no books in the classroom??

  137. Kim Says:

    Well said Cheryl. I stand in full support of you and your colleagues. Although I am not a teacher and do not have children in school, I certainly have enough imagination to visualise that particular birthday party. *shudders*. (I would like to credit Mrs. Kennedy Gr 3, Ms. Adams (Art 8-12), Mr. Bowen (Western Civ. 11-12) with the fostering of such imagination;))

    The idealogues have had their Free Market way with us for over a decade. British Columbians are stretched beyond the breaking point, none of us has prospered. The Press has been historically biased against Labour. Let’s face it , we have very little in the way of balance in the corporate Media)

    @Tawney. You made your point several comments ago. On the internet, we call that trolling and it is frowned upon. Privatize? Why not just git ‘er done and build the Prisons instead? I’m guessing you are coming from a Public Affairs Bureau down in Victoria…

  138. I am in support of our teachers….this is not about money….its about the children….BC government disgusts me..

  139. Tracy M Says:

    Bravo Cheryl! A standing ovation from me for your thorough article. I wish I could send this out to every parent I know.

  140. CarolynR Says:

    What a well written letter. I hope it gets read at the debate. I’m not a teacher and I don’t have children in the public education system, but I fully support the teachers’ strike action. I’m sick and tired of the public blaming this on teachers. It always baffles my mind as to why the government doesn’t recognize the importance of quality public education and how it impacts our future leaders (the children). I’m also sick and tired of the public blaming this on teachers. If they don’t care about their children and the support they receive in K-12, they wouldn’t be teachers in the first place. If their main concern was wage increase, they would not vote to walk out and have their pay docked. I wish every single citizen in the province gets a chance to sit in a classroom in a public school, just for a day.

    You should submit this to all media sources… ex. CBC.

    I’m all for quality public education. Hang in there, teachers! Despite the twists and spinnings from the media, you have many supporters.

  141. erica Says:

    This is great! I saw it on Facebook so I’m glad people are reposting.
    Sadly, this is the story for most of us. (I can even relate to the dysfunctional boiler issues). Unfortunately I think it might get worse before it gets better.

  142. S. Says:

    I’m the parent of a seven year old, recently designated special needs but so far only eligible for limited supports. Having homeschooled to this point, he’s only been in a mainstream classroom for two months, so I have not yet felt affected by contracts and strikes. This is in large part, though, because my son is so well cared for at the school -I am awed by the excellence of the building, administration, classroom, teacher and vice-principal. Thus, I wondered what the strike was about. I wanted to know, and the newspapers weren’t really explaining it to a parent new to the system. Your post did. This is so well-written, and truly eye-opening. I already knew that my son and I had lucked out in accessing a very small, cheerful, well-administered, “boutique” school, but your post about the state of a school not so far from ours makes this much more clear. I ache for the families whose only choice is a massive, old, overcrowded school with exhausted staff. I really appreciate your taking the time to write every single word that you did. Thank you so much for caring about our community’s children!! Everyone who takes care of our children should be well cared for in turn. I wish you all the best!!

  143. AParentSupportingTeachers Says:

    Amazing Blog. Here is hoping and praying this blog goes viral. I am posting it everywhere I can. It tells the TRUE story behind why teachers are striking and the teachers and the parents backing them seem to be the only ones who know the real truth. It would be wonderful if the Papers would publish this letter because it seems that the ignorant public who are quick to bash teachers need to get a good dose of reality.

  144. Mr. Bustin Says:

    Very well said.
    I agree with you on all points.
    Let’s hope this message gets out to all those ignorant about the true situation.

  145. JD Says:

    What great writing! …and true! As an educator myself, I have experienced many of the same things you have, Cheryl. I have over 20 years experience and have had the personal angst (no pun intended) of taking better conditions for students over wage increases, only to see them illegally stripped.

    I do, however, also agree with some other comments written by visitors: I feel that our BCTF has dropped the ball BIG TIME on negotiations since the get-go this time round. Some of the demands initially made were insane, adding to the public’s belittling of our teachers. No reasonable mind came up with these: I understand negotiation means having to give some things up from your initial request and hoping to meet in the middle, but I, in good conscience, could never have accepted many of their ideas, as I would have felt that I’m ripping off BC taxpayers. Our PR department could learn a thing or two, and they evidently have, as their recent ads are REALLY GOOD, but much damage has already been done.

    I have already had to cancel an event with my students because of this, and I hope we are able to come to a resolution that keeps good educators like you and me in BC, because we are always able to move east where the grass may be greener.

    Thanks, Cheryl!

  146. Greg Says:

    Much respect and support sent your way!!

    As a teacher in Ontario, I fear we too are heading in the direction your letter details …… sadly most of it is already happening.

    Thank you for stating distinctly and openly, the real issues in our education system (regardless what province one might be living in).

  147. Grace Says:

    What do teachers want?

    1. We want to negotiate class sizes and composition.

    2. We want to fix the damage caused by a decade of cuts and illegal stripping of our contracts.

    3. We want a fair, negotiated settlement.

    Teachers have co-operated and compromised:

    1. We co-operated with the “fact-finder” appointed by the government.

    2. We asked for an independent mediator—the employer has been unwilling.

    3. We reduced our proposals—even when the employer refused to compromise.

    What is the roadblock to a negotiated settlement?

    1.The employer wants to strip our contract of due processes, rights, and professional autonomy.

    2. The employer wants no cost-of-living adjustments or salary increases.

    3. The government stands ready to impose a legislated contract, so there is little incentive for the employer to bargain fairly.

    What would a legislated settlement mean for students?
    Continued conflict in education will be a certainty. The legislation details are not known, but it could mean:

    1. no improvements in class sizes

    2. no redress for the $3.3 billion lost over the last decade by the illegal action of government in 2002

    3. minimal improvements for students with special needs.

    Teachers are calling upon government to mediate and negotiate—not legislate!

    • Fiona Says:

      Cheryl’s attempt to clarify the human face of this conflict between the teachers and the government is invaluable. At the same time, Grace’s (2:47 pm) post provides a helpful summary of the potential consequences of ignoring the many complexities facing the politicians, legislators, school boards, teachers, taxpayers, and families (we all fit into the equation somehow). Only these type of reflective, questioning, and compassionate inquiries will do anything to stem the tide of societal breakdown that this crisis illustrates.

      The downward slide of the education system has been an ongoing problem now for years and I, as a parent could see it, while I acknowledge that I did not do enough to resist the winds of change. These winds continue to blow through our health care system, our immigration and refugee systems, our income assistance systems, and our child welfare system (all of which was highlighted in the many news stories that aired this evening). Unless we (all British Columbians) each work on a daily basis to correct this damage and improve what is broken we will have little left in our province and our country to value.

  148. so well written and all so true…..everyone should read this….we need to support our BC Teachers!

  149. Robert Salmon Says:

    I read your letter with great interest, and agree with what you say wholeheartedly. I am not a teacher, but I certainly feel your pain. I am a full service Father and Grandfather, who appreciates a good and well funded education system. I cannot for the life of me understand why the government and a good degree of the general public think the teacher are over paid. On a daily basis in my city, I can drive around and watch city workers, 3 of which it seems are required to paint a sign post, one to paint, one to flag, and one to sit on the tailgate of a pickup, all this for upwards of 25.00 to 40.00 per hr. depending on time served. Most people do not realize that the work hours involved in teaching go far beyond class time, ie. grading lessons, doing lesson plans etc, all well after classes have ended for the day or week. Politicians always strive to make themselves look better by pointing fingers or slinging mud at other, nothing new here. I wish you and all other dedicated teachers all the best, and support you efforts.

  150. NB Says:

    Thank you for this. What a great letter and a reminder that this attack on education has been going on for years.

    You’ve done a great job of covering the teacher perspective. And everyone should read the following too, as it shows the financial perspective that affects us ALL:

    http://www.theprovince.com/news/Liberal+policies+blame+teacher+strife/6230812/story.html

  151. Kristi Fisher Says:

    Cheryl,

    I just want to say how moved I was by your words in support of yourself and your colleagues in the education system in BC. I used to teach in BC and have since moved on to teach in Alberta. I know that the system is failing everyone involved – students, teachers, parents. I only hope that someone recognizes that education IS an essential service and that the people who can bring about positive change speak up about the conditions. We are all educating the future leaders of the world.
    Good luck on being heard! Those of us in other provinces are with you in your fight for fairness.

  152. Angie Lessick Says:

    My husband and I were just talking about wanting to get info on this distressing situation — from the teachers’ viewpoint. Now we have it & it confirms what we’ve been feeling all along. “Our” government is not “ours” at all! We support you 100%.
    Angie & Chris

  153. Karen Says:

    What can we do to help? As parents. How can WE help? This blog just breaks my heart. Would my children do better in private school or would that just bring more expensive problems. I am so sorry. So unfair for EVERYONE. xo

    • Karen Says:

      I just received an email. “In the interest of student safety” SD 79 is asking us to keep our children home on Monday, Tuesday and Wed, saying that they are unable to provide appropriate supervision.

    • Nicki Says:

      Yes, fantastic letter, and I too want to do someting to help, not just stand by. I think we need to organize a province wide peacefull protest to show our support for our teachers and our children.

  154. Cheryl Birt Says:

    I am not a teacher, but a grandmother of children in the education system and I would like the teachers to know that I feel so strongly with what the govt. is doing to them that I have written letters to Premier Christy, John Abbott,and Mrs. Lambert (as I feel she hasnt made the public aware of many things the teachers are dealing with).
    For good measure I have also sent messages by snail mail to Keith Baldy and Chris Gailus of Global Tv for their biased comments when reporting on this situation. Shame on them, and all the unions (including the nurses union) for not being more supportive of our teachers.

  155. Monica Says:

    An absolutely perfect read, thank you for taking the time to write this – I have shared a link to your blog post on my FB page and have requested that others do the same. I heart teachers. My Mom was a teacher, I grew up as the daughter of a teacher and got to see the true story of what it is like behind the scenes. I remember her having to go on strike in the 80′s. I wish more parents knew what it was like to spend one day in a classroom, let alone week after week. I wish more parents knew what the life of a teacher really was like … it is nothing like the myths I read posted out there. My Mom was once near nervous breakdown working at an inner-city elementary school. Oh the stories I could tell you (I know you already know). Anywho, I just want to send you some love for writing this. I hope it goes viral.

  156. matzahman Says:

    If you don’t like the rules, don’t teach…

  157. Martin Kendell Says:

    Thank for taking the time to post this. The state of education in BC is on life support, and teachers across this province deserve better, even if it’s not a larger pay check.

  158. Ryan Nold Says:

    I enjoyed the letter.
    I have been teaching nearly 20 years now, and have seen conditions decay. Our union I think is missing out on an opportunity here. The general public sees nothing but our money demands. We need to drop the wage demands completely and bargan/strike for better conditions for our kids and ourselves. The wage demand is holding us back. Joe Public would then say “why are they stiking if they don’t want more money?” Then perhaps the real reasons and issues could be explored.

    • Ryan Says:

      Exactly what this member of “joe public” thinks you should do.

      • rob Says:

        The govt took away our ability to negotiate for class size and composition in 2001. Despite the Supreme Court rulings last year, Bills 27 and 28 are still in effect.

    • Amy Says:

      Yep, the public would love that. My husband is outraged at teachers because of their wage demands, and I’m supporting them because I see what many of them are actually trying to aim for. I do see why he’s angry though; the union seems to be putting way too much emphasis on the wage increase. Unions are so inefficient it’s mindblowing. (So are a select few teachers; I had a few who stayed in their careers for waaaay too long. The dead weight needs to be cut!)

    • Shannon Says:

      If the teachers did that the public, including myself, would be on board with you!! We know the issues in the classrooms, but we think paying the teachers more will not solve them!

    • Jason P Says:

      The gov’t refuses to negotiate on the important items. The BCTF has not prioritized wage increases. Rather, that is what the gov’t and the media have focused on because they know it will cause the most sensationalism. Read the News Releases by the BCTF and you’ll see that their main concern is class sizes and conditions, something the Supreme Court has agreed should be negotiable, but the gov’t has conveniently decided to ignore until April 2013.

      The BCTF is using the wage issue in hopes to push the gov’t into looking into those very valid concerns. That may be a strategic error on the BCTF’s part, given the general public’s lack of understanding of bargaining and the ignorant belief that a raise will increase their tax rate. The BCTF should at least state this as well, it would give an understanding to the public if they outwardly said wages aren’t a real issue. On the other side of the coin, would that be anything like showing your hand in poker?

      Also to note: the BCTF asked for arbitration, even if appointed by the Labour Board. This is of HUGE significance. If you don’t know, the difference between arbitration and mediation is that both parties agree to be bound by the final resolution the outside party determines under arbitration. Mediation is simply a decision that neither party has to accept. Ask yourself why your gov’t is afraid to engage in that process. They obviously realize that what they are doing is wrong, and it will be sniffed out by an independent person. Also of significance to this and to show that wages aren’t the biggest issue, in today’s climate it is likely that an independent arbitrator wouldn’t suggest a raise in pay for teachers. However, it is very likely they would want to address the working conditions.

  159. Sloane Says:

    Cheryl,

    I am not a teacher. No-one in my family is or ever has been a teacher. Regardless, I fully appreciate where you and the province’s teachers are coming from. You have the full support of the people in my household in regards to what you have written concerning this joke of a system our government has created. I had a debate with a gentleman this morning about this ongoing issue. The comment that ended the debate was this;

    Me – “Do you rememeber your favourite teacher from school?”
    Him – “You bet, Mrs. ______ from grade 4″
    Me – “Do you remember your favourite politician?”
    Him – “Hmmmm, No”

    I think this speaks volumes to who plays an important role in who and what we become in life. I hope the teachers and the teachers union stand up for what is right. Being pushed around by a government that makes decisions without acknowleding the concerns of the very people that pay their wages.

    Keep up the good fight!

    Sloane

  160. Howard Says:

    Excellent dissertation, Cheryl. Several of my colleagues feel so disheartened that they are contemplating quitting teaching. I feel that this government is actually targetting teachers–seems like a vendetta–in order to prove some moral high ground when it comes to fiscal restraint. I’d like to remind them (have, in fact) that a particular party we hosted on the mountain, and putting a very expensive roof on a stadium are just two of the lasting financial legacies we seem to be left with, and to pay for, for years to come. These items addressed and even made richer a very few, and ignored the needs of the very many. Applying this level of funding to education, health care, poverty, the elderly etc. is the responsible thing to do. I get that fiscal restraint has to happen on some levels, so how did these and other highly expensive items get missed? Selling off Ministry-owned ‘assets’ is short-term thinking which may help, provided those funds are funneled into salvaging the decay of the public education system, but certainly a longer-term vision of a vibrant and healthy, fully-funded and appreciated school system is in order.
    By the way, I loathe the term ‘government’ as it implies that we, the people, need to be governed/dictated to, rather than the opposite. I thought that we, the people, in a true democracy, gave over the co-ordination of our will to people who serve in office, and not to allow them the power to direct/dictate/control how this co-ordination should happen. This type of ‘governance’ could easily fall under the guise of fascism, or dictatorship….. I wonder if there is a better way?……. Thanks for your blog. All the best, Howard Mallett

  161. very well written and I totally agree with you and the rest of the teachers!

    I can honestly say that teachers do care, my son’s teacher and I communicate on a daily basis and I feel as if we are on the same team working with my adhd child. I feel for her as there are no assistants in her class and I know my son is not the only disruptive child there. I know how I feel after being around him for several hours and he can be very frustrating to say the least, yet she took the time to get to know him and found that he also has a heart of gold and that he is very intelligent. She has become a vital support for me and my son.

    Teacher’s need the tools to be able to teach our children to give them hope for the future. They are not babysitters and should not be treated like one. We want our children to have the best education possible, how can we expect them to learn more with less? I am a single parent working to support my son and yes it will be tough when the teachers strike, but if it is to improve my son’s learning conditions and hopefully put an assistant in his classroom, I support the teacher’s and their need to strike. To be honest I wish the gov;t would keep their noses out of it and let an actual negotiation take place.

  162. Alison Says:

    Good for you Cheryl for writing this article. It saddens me that people still believe only what they read in the paper or see on the news. Children are the future of this “great” country. If we don’t invest in them and give them a great foundation, who will? I am not a teacher but a working mother and I am proud to support BC teachers because I believe in education for our kids.

  163. Michelle Says:

    Exemplary letter. Thank you.

  164. s Says:

    Cheryl thank you so much for taking the time to voice what so many of us feel but I, myself, cannot form into the elegant words you did!!!! I am a new teacher and feel I may have made a mistake in my career choice. I went into teaching as so many of us do –because we care about the children but my faith is shaken when even our government and bosses don’t have the same care and concern for the students we teach and love. Again thank you!! I hope this gets sent to ALL the right people:) Cheers!!!

  165. tj7933 Says:

    Put yourself in the place of other government employees considered essential, and yet they get to watch which of their friends lose their jobs because it is critical to cut spending in all FEDERAL departments by 5 to 10%.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Third-Choice-Troisi%C3%A8me-choix/303103499707836

    There is always a third choice, the problem is you have to get the people organized, or governments will not consider it.

  166. edouin Says:

    Go get ‘em, Ms Angst! I got yer back!

    http://ftsask.ca/blogs/blog1.php/2012/03/01/our-teachers-are-systematically-being-handcuffed

    Edwin W., CD1, Sgt (Ret’d)
    Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

  167. Jason L Says:

    The general public would have more sympathy if your union didn’t always push wage demands before anything else. This is a problem with your union. The general population also would have a lot more sympathy if there was a way to get rid of some of the truly terrible teachers. As a parent I had to pull my daughter out of the public school system because of some very incompetent teachers/administration. The system is broken, but this isn’t just a one way street.

    During the 90′s when the NDP were in power (the political party of choice for the BCTF), they knew about schools not being up to code for earthquakes. They refused to do anything about it. I remember listening to members of the governing NDP sidestep questions on CKNW when asked about bringing these buildings up to code. Perhaps you should ask your union why they didn’t pressure the NDP to actually take action.

    Its really easy to complain about the Liberals, but when the NDP were in power they did nothing for education either.

    • Heather Cooper Says:

      It would be eye-opening to the public if, somehow, working/learning conditions and wages could be negotiated separately. I would be willing to bet that, if it came to job action, there would be full-out action on the working conditions, and half-hearted or little support from the teachers for the wage issues. Unfortunately, the employer (read government) does not give them that option, because it knows that it can easily villify the teachers for (shame on them) wanting to keep their salaries competitive with other provinces and protected against inflation.

    • Jason P Says:

      The gov’t refuses to negotiate on the important items. The gov’t and the media have focused on the wage issue because they know it will cause the most sensationalism. Read the News Releases by the BCTF and you’ll see that their main concern is class sizes and conditions, something the Supreme Court has agreed should be negotiable, but the gov’t has conveniently decided to ignore until April 2013.

      The BCTF is using the wages to push the gov’t into looking into those very valid concerns. That may be a strategic error on the BCTF’s part, given the general public’s lack of understanding of bargaining and the ignorant belief that a raise will increase their tax rate. The BCTF should at least state this as well, it would give an understanding to the public if they outwardly said wages aren’t a serious issue. On the other side of the coin, would that be anything like showing your hand in poker?

      Also to note: the BCTF asked for arbitration, even if appointed by the Labour Board. This is of HUGE significance. If you don’t know, the difference between arbitration and mediation is that both parties agree to be bound by the final resolution the outside party determines under arbitration. Mediation is simply a decision that neither party has to accept. Ask yourself why your gov’t is afraid to engage in that process. They obviously realize that what they are doing is wrong, and it will be sniffed out by an independent person. Also of significance to this and to show that wages aren’t the biggest issue, in today’s climate it is likely that an independent arbitrator wouldn’t suggest a raise in pay for teachers. However, it is very likely they would want to address the working conditions.

  168. Donna Bone Says:

    Amazing, truthful, thoughtful. Thank you for your passion and dedication to the teaching profession. I am a retired teacher and hope you can continue the fight I was a part of, sadly, for almost my entire career.

  169. Kristen Says:

    Thank you so much for that! I had no idea that the teaching conditions had deteriorated so much since I left 10 years ago. I now teach in New Brunswick. You have my full support from the other side of Canada!

  170. Rock Says:

    Cheryl,

    It’s a lie that we can take our kids to school during a strike! I just received a letter from Steve Cardwell, the Superintendent of Schools/CEO saying not to bring the kids to school, that “there will not be sufficient staff available to provide adequate supervision for our students”…… I support teachers and the job they do but as a parent I’m pissed off. If you want a raise, fire your union, IMO they’re doing a terrible job for you and giving you bad advice. Why should the kids and parents suffer because you want a 15% raise over 3 years?? Get creative and come up with a better idea to piss off your employer. Stop pissing off the parents.

    • Chris Says:

      It’s not a lie. Read your letter carefully. Schools are still open and administrators and CUPE staff will still be there. They just don’t want to have the students there without the teachers. If you are stuck, you can take your children to school.

    • Wylee Guy Smiley Says:

      Exactly! If you can’t find someone to watch them during the day, can’t afford or don’t want to pay for daycare, and don’t want to take the day off of work or can’t afford to take the day off of work, then send them to school.

      There will be a gymnasium with students probably watching movies while an administrator attends.

  171. Shawn Bird Says:

    Brava!!!

    When my students (gr 9s) asked “What is this strike about?” I told them,
    “Do you remember when the Ministry of Magic took over Hogwarts and started making crazy rules that made it impossible for the school to function and for the teachers to teach properly? Well. The BCTF is the Order of the Phoenix.”

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out when Christie Clark was Minister of Education and I said, “I am living in this book!” Christie is Dolores Umbridge! Finally she disappeared and we heaved a sigh of relief. Surely things would be better. Then they made her the Minister of Magic, and in 2012 things are a whole lot worse. I couldn’t have imagined it.

    One of my students today said, “Can we be Dumbledore’s Army?”

    I told her, “Go for it!” Wouldn’t it be great if the kids stood up for their own education?

    I hope kids show up on Monday.

    PS. Nice blog theme. Looks familiar! ;-P

  172. Bud Says:

    I feel for the teachers but I feel more for the children the ones who are in grade 12 and fearing they will not be able to graduate. The ones who are too young to understand what is going on and are being taught to defy their Government. The ones who are slipping through the cracks and are now slipping even father through. The whole situation is sad .. Everyone works everyone has a job and everyone would love better conditions. But what would happen to the regular Joe who works in the same conditions not enough support low wage even lower then teacher get what about him watching knowing if he pulled the same thing he would be out of a job on the unemployment line in the food bank lines.. No sorry teachers you have to come up with a better way. Your actions do not hurt the Government they hurt the Children and the Parents and that is when you lose your support. When I hear the Teachers say we want more help more support then I see that the government heard and put Millions in to a budget to hire new teacher and Aids but the Teacher still want something they can’t have a wage increase bottom line that is what it is about. I say be thankful you are not a teacher in Japan or Korea 55 plus students to a class and 13 hour days (not 8)

    This is my thoughts and opinions I have read both sides both website so I do not need a bunch of hate emails. I live in Canada where if you ask for an opinion I am allowed to give one with out being bullied and harassed.

    • Siobhan Says:

      I think the teachers have tried their best to make their point without going on strike. I wanted to become more involved in my son’s school as I can’t afford to send my son to private school, something I was fortunate to attend myself. I do this on my one day off that coincides with his school day. What I thought I “knew” about education has changed.

      teachers (the majority), don’t work 8 hours a day, they work much more. The ones I’ve seen are constantly working on their days off, into the evening. That’s what I’ve seen driving past the school, or on my way to work early in the morning, hours before the start of school. Many spending their own money to buy resources for their students and their classrooms. I’ve seen one classroom with 80% ESL. That in itself can make teaching challenging, but even more so when you see that of that 80%, six different “first” languages were spoken.

      Parents can go to their children’s teachers if only parents would take the initiative. I’m sure the dynamic is different at the secondary level, but even in grade 12 these are still people’s children. When I was 16 I went to school overseas and even though my parent’s were and 8 hour flight away, you can bet they were in touch with the school and teachers and that was before the internet, email and cell phones. (and no I’m not rich, my parents were blue collar, they just wanted me to know my heritage)

      And I think children should learn that it is okay to question administration. Not to fear it. That’s why my parents came to Canada. That’s why I was proud of living here.

      Great letter – I support you Cheryl

    • Wylee Guy Smiley Says:

      During the strike in 2005 did any student not graduate because of it? Come on! Be serious. The fear is unfounded.

      Do you think the students who are doing well will all get B’s instead of A’s now because the teachers are walking off the job for a few days? Certainly didn’t happen in my classroom then (when student missed 2 weeks of school) and I can’t imagine it happening now.

  173. Anne Says:

    WELL said!

  174. Michael Says:

    Money for domed stadium or money for education?

    Hmmm…

    Not hard to see that the BC government was not wearing their helmets when they made that decision.

  175. Charlotte Says:

    Brilliant!! You hit the nail right on the head, and touched on SO MANY things that I have been thinking to myself every day since entering the teaching profession. As a new teacher in BC, I hope that the public can educate themselves on what is really happening in public education right now, and can support BC teachers in their plight for justice. I can honestly say I am not looking forward to my future ‘career’ in education if this bill is passed…. a dark time for public education in BC.

  176. DW Laidlaw Says:

    This says it all! You’ve not only identified all the salient issues, but illustrated them so eloquently. Every British Columbian should see this.

  177. Jennifer VanDusen Says:

    Cheryl,

    Thank you so much for your letter. I have been teaching in Surrey for the past 25 years and have experienced all the things you mentioned and more. I only hope some of our MLA’s will be open minded enough to listen to the truth instead of political rhetoric. It’s so hard to have spent an entire career completely dedicating yourself to the children of our province, only to be treated with such disrespect by people who have absolutely no idea what the real world of education is like.

  178. [...] is a brilliant blog post from Cheryl, a teacher in Port Coquitlam, explaining the things that have been happening in schools and what we’re fighting [...]

  179. Dan Says:

    Cheryl,

    Thank you for taking the time to write. I found your blog on Facebook, and have since re-posted it with my comments below.
    I work in an essential service occupation (firefighter). My career, and many others like it (police, ambulance, nurses, doctors, etc) may be viewed as life saving. Yours (and of your colleagues) however could also be viewed as such…and life shaping, life forming, etc, etc. I personally believe that the role of teacher is such a vital part of a childs life.

    I fully support the actions of all teachers and feel you deserve fair & just respect, fair & just wages, and fair & just treatment from our government and education ministry.

    Funny how none of thier offices leak, lack heat or air conditioning, comfortable and pristine furniture. funny also how our government finds money for big sports arenas that sit empty a majority of the time, but can’t find money for our children’s futures. Funny that!

    Anyway, I have to run..off to a Gordon Neufeld presentation. Thank you for being a teacher!!!

    “I understand how some people are triggered by the word “union”. I ask that we all look past this. Yes, unions exist. And I think it is fair to say that unions exist for a reason. I am sure we can all figure out why, whether you like the reality or not. And yes, some unions have demands that do seem unrealistic.

    With respect to the current state of our education system, my personal opinion …is I think we all need to look at the end goal with education in our province.

    Look to what is really at stake. It is our future. It is the lifes of our children. It is who our children will be, emotionally, intellectually, socially, and spiritually.

    There are a lot of children in our society that do not recieve the loving compassionate upbringing at home necessary for a healthy start in life. The school system is a surrogate family, and for that matter surrogate parenting for a lot of children. Let’s not forget this point.

    There is so much at stake here and teachers wages should reflect on the responsibility we all place upon them for the future of our children.

    We have all heard the old saying “You get what you pay for”. I would hazard a guess that we have all experienced the truth of that statement.

    Let’s ask our government to take responsibility and bring our education system up to the standards our society deserves. To the standards that our children deserve.

    It is our future.”

  180. Matt Arnold Says:

    This might be the best piece of writing I have ever read because it covers every aspect of our experience as teachers here in B.C. in 2012! I teach Grade 9 English in Chilliwack and agree with everything you have written! Well done!

  181. Ryan Says:

    The system is protecting teachers who aren’t like you. They are protecting the bad teachers who don’t care about their students. You know the ones who spent 4 years in university partying and decided to stay for an extra year to get their teaching degree ( you know so they can have summers off).

    I have no problem with the class size argument. I empathize with your situation, but there are a lot thIngs I don’t see eye to eye on. Since you accepted lower wages and benefits you didnt use before why is it you should be compensated higher this time. How many industries get 15% wage increases every 3 years (even in a recession)?

    You either want better learning conditions or more money. The more I hear it seems your cohorts want the money. I applaud your stance and your integrity but I’ve seen some of your unions requests and they seem laughable.

    • sue Says:

      Ryan, I don’t think anyone is expecting a 15% wage increase. it is just a starting point. They are very much entitled to a pay increase and have their working conditions addressed, It is not one or the other. Also, there are plenty of ways to deal with “slacker teachers” but I hope to heavens you don’t get to make those decisions, I hope there is a fair way for that to be done. That is where unions come in.

      I am not a teacher, I am a parent and I completely support this job action.

      Awesome letter too!

  182. daniela elza Says:

    Thank you for this perspective. My son said he will not be damaged by staying home while the teachers strike. He is one of the ones who is way ahead and both my kids have been bored in school, not because the do not have good teachers, but because the teachers have to deal with the disruptive, and trouble making kids, and the ones who have special needs. So school that way has, and is, failing my kids… And it is not the teacher’s fault. I do not see a real benefit to having a minister of education. Her salary can go to help fund our schools and our teachers. And so can all those politicians who vote for bill 22. Lets see if there is not enough money then.
    Oh, and if I want to know how my child is doing, the teacher is happy to tell me. Always.

  183. If the teachers decide to organize in the downtown core next Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and could use a gathering space, please have someone contact me as St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church (Burrard @ Nelson) would like to offer hospitality as way of showing support. Thanks, Rev. Kathryn Ransdell, Acting Lead Minister, St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, kathryn.staw@telus.net

  184. Chris Says:

    Thank you Cheryl!

  185. Angelique Venne Says:

    I have had a children in the BC public school system since 1998 when our oldest son entered kindergarten, he just graduated last year, and our youngest is in grade 4. The degree of deterioration of the BC public school system is alarming, to say the least. The classroom you describe is becoming the norm, and is very hard to believe, if you don’t experience it for yourself. There are parents like me out there, ones that don’t put their children in school for lack of child care, but for a descent shot at life. I would like to show support for our teachers, any suggestions?
    For all the teachers that haven’t taught my kids, because I have always let them know, I thank you and appreciate your dedication.

  186. Ash Says:

    Moving story. As a Burnaby teacher of 12 years I feel every word you are saying. I did jobs at an alt-ed school where every student had an IEP, and another school where one winter the roof of the portable was torn out because of toxic mold, during classes.

    Currently, the only place to call my own in my current school is a single filing cabinet; not even a desk to call my own. I move between three classrooms this year.

    Your letter could almost describe my experiences perfectly.

  187. Fiona Lawson Says:

    Thank you so much for writing so succintly about the experiences most of us face daily in our classrooms!

  188. Tess Says:

    Eloquent, rational and powerful. I would be thrilled to call you the teacher of my children…,,

  189. Lisa Says:

    I’ve shared this on my fb page and on the comments of individual parents who are upset about the walk-out. My kids are now graduated and on to the next level of education, but I’ve personally seen how an overcrowded class can overwhelm a teacher. Yes, I’d love to have a teachers salary, and summers off, but NOT their jobs. ALL parents need to read this letter. EVERYONE needs to read it! It’s real!

    • AM Says:

      With regards to ‘Yes, I’d love to have a teachers salary, and summers off…’ I’m hoping you realize that a teacher’s salary does not continue in the summer! So, in essence, teachers are put into forced unemployment each summer – how easy is it to find a job that lasts for 2 months? The pay that we get for the 10 months of the year (almost never having a free night to spend with our family) is based on the exact number of days we teach. We don’t get paid for Christmas holidays, Easter holidays, spring break or any other holiday! We know this because, if for some reason, we need to take a day off to attend to urgent business, our pay is docked an equivalent of one out of the total school days in the year! Thank you for your support.

      • Norm Says:

        You do get pay cheques 10 months out of the year, so saying you are not paid for Christmas and Easter is laughable. You are also paid on average 70,000 a year so cry me a river that you have two months off without pay.

  190. Zeke Says:

    Whine, whine, whine. If you don’t like your working conditions you have the “right” to seek alternative employment. In fact, I would support the abolition of public education and its near monopoly status and its replacement with a voucher system where you could choose among hundreds of employers and all parents could choose which school would serve their children best. Competition and economic liberty would unleash tremendous innovation in education and eliminate the persistent pushing of the leftist BCTF agenda. Let me remind you that your “employer” the put upon taxpayer and we are tapped out by the incessant demands of government employees and their corrupt unions.

    • Lorne Says:

      Yep, this seems to be working quite well in the US and their outstanding education system (sarcasm implied!)

  191. Jen Says:

    Wow! That sums up exactly the way that I felt when teaching in BC ( in SD43 no less). I have since left all of my loved ones to go work overseas where I have to say that I finally feel as if myself and my students are valued. It’s not perfect, we don’t have the same access to classroom resources but my classroom caps out at 12 students and I have constant support for my LD students. All of this from a country less developed than Canada. I’m embarrassed that the powers that be have made such a mockery of a system that I once held dear. Keep fighting, our kids deserve to have someone on their side!

  192. Marc Steynen Says:

    I am a new parent and am watching, reading, and listening to this debate unfold with great concern for my child’s future education. I am very alarmed by what is happening in regards to Bill 22, but after reading your letter I am much more concerned for the children in your classroom and hundreds more like it across BC. If I was an MLA I would definately be voting against this awful piece of legislation!

  193. Tom H Says:

    I have sympathy for some of the problems you mentioned, but I find it dishonest that none at of the argument is in the full context of what the bargaining is asking for – such as money for teachers and seniority rights. Does the injustice of our educational weaknesses calls for these bargaining demands, or just convenient collateral for the bargaining table?! Is everything the union is asking for just and fair and truly necessary for students? Is it realistic or sustainable?

  194. shelley Says:

    how absolutely real. not like the total crap the media is feeding the public..i am a special needs assistant and yes, it is true, that the classes are full. i do not even have a desk, space, or anywhere to sit in the class to help the 3+ students in the class. i get to sit at the window ledge and if i am lucky i may get a textbook to follow the class with, but probably not as there are not even enough for the kids in the class..boy i too could write a book, especially to comment on the ‘money’ that we do not see, that the gov’t has apparently put in place for these special kids..ha, what a joke….it’s appalling and unacceptable. As a support person, we stand behind the teachers 200%…keep up the fight!

  195. Blair Says:

    I am a parent of a child in kindergarten. I sympathize with your circumstances with respect to class size, composition, and funding for books, proper facilities, etc. I am uncertain as to how higher wages will make any of this better? A wage freeze in a recession should not be insult. There must be a distinction between effective use of public funding and ineffective. The latter unfortunately is ineffective. Will a higher wage make you feel any less fatigued? Unfortunately unions protect all employees regardless of performance or abilities.

  196. yyyoyoi Says:

    Blah blah blah. What about us health care workers?

    • Heather Cooper Says:

      Health care is another chronically underfunded area. I was recently in the hospital, and appalled at the lack of cleanliness and support for health care workers. But again, the Liberal party of BC is not really concerned with the human side of the story here either. The bottom dollar is the bottom line! There are so many areas where better choices could have been made.

  197. Heather W. Says:

    Cheryl… I work in an Vancouver elementary school as an SSWA… your letter is amazing and really sets out what is happening in our schools…. I pray that your letter is read – and listened to – and I pray that your words are heard by SOMEONE who can make some difference in the legislature! Blessings to you for writing a great letter and sharing it!

  198. james Says:

    I think the system of education has to be reformed.
    It is , like the health services, have become economically unsustainable.

    In my opinion, with the limited resources, the teachers should inform the parents what educational/academic content the child should be able to cover within a year(e.g. (Maths Smart, English Smart etc).

    If the progress of the class in covering the curriculum has been delayed for whatever reason, then tutors can be hired part time to assist students complete the curriculum.

    That way those students who are strong academically can progress at a faster pace, while those less strong can progress at their own and perhaps more moderate pace.

    Those who are academically weak, progress at a slower pace and may need to have more tutorial time.

    The report cards as they stand don’t tell you how the students perform compared to a norm(national average.) I know the teachers have been reluctant to use national tests which should show areas where students need help.
    I found these tests and exams very useful when I was a student in a foreign country.

  199. Cheryl Angst Says:

    Hi Blair (and others who have asked similar questions),

    I don’t want to hi-jack the stream of comments coming through here, or the excellent discussions these comments are generating, but I would like to attempt to clarify one aspect of the wage increase question.

    When the government stripped class size and composition wording from the collective agreement, they made it ILLEGAL for us to bring the topics up in any future contract negotiations. We are prohibited by law from asking for improved learning conditions for our students. Despite the Supreme Court ruling stating these cuts were illegal, the language has yet to be restored – and as such, we CANNOT ask for anything to do with class size and composition – the things that really matter.

    According to Bill 22, these issues will not be addressed prior to the next round of contract talks which will not begin prior to July 2013. And even then, until the government puts the wording back into our agreement it will remain against the law for teachers to attempt to negotiate for better conditions for their classrooms.

    Does this excuse the wage demand? I’m not going to even attempt to answer this as money makes people very crabby. I will say, that right or wrong, when you cannot get what you need from your employer, sometimes you have to ask for what you think you might get.

    (By the way, it’s way cheaper–as in hundreds of millions of dollars–for the government to give teachers a pay raise than to put actual caps on class size and composition, which is why the government has offered teachers raises in many contract negotiations over the past decade.)

    Okay, I am going to get off my soap-box and get back to answering all the mail in my inbox this post generated.

    Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share their thinking – without discourse we cannot generate new ideas.

    Sincerely,

    Cheryl.

  200. Heather W. Says:

    Cheryl – thanks for this post. Love the birthday party analogy. I have a son in grade 10 and his teachers have been fantastic about keeping in touch through e-mails and meeting in person whenever there is need. We feel better informed than usual. I hope the public is aware that Bill 22 is just another plank in the BC Liberal’s platform of privatization. If you are wealthy enough who cares if the majority are suffering in over crowded, unsafe classrooms? You can just ignore the issue and use the tax cuts the Liberals hand you to pay for private school. Search teaching jobs on Education Canada and for the past several years almost all the jobs you’ll find in BC are in private schools. Beware, these schools are under no obligation to teach every child – they can ask any kids with behaviour issues to leave. The public system has no choice – their teachers have to cope. If there used to be larger class sizes years ago (or maybe in foreign countries still) they institutionalized special needs children. Ripped them away from their families to send them to residential schools like Jericho Hill School for the Deaf. No mainstreaming. Is this what we want to go back to? I hope not!

  201. Jess Says:

    If you weren’t asking for money I would support you but I’m a single parent and I work in retail I have worked 9 to 9 without getting paid over time I make minimum wage and I can’t even afford to feed my kids and pay rent at the same time. I work in a store that deals with students and teachers quite a bit and I have never met a nice teacher yet all they do is come in and yell at us and treat us like we aren’t even worthy to breath the same are as them “because I’m a teacher!” and more communication would be great if my childs teacher would listen to me I made sure I went and talked to her the second day of school to mention that my daughter needed to wear her glasses because she could go blind in one eye if she doesn’t and void she let me know if my daughter tried to stop wearing them again but two months later I found out she hadn’t worn them past the third day the response I got when I asked the teacher why she hadn’t told me was “I didn’t realize they were important” glasses are important period and what part of blind did she not understand!

    • yyyoyoi Says:

      My thing on this “walk out” I am fortunate enough that I do not pay for day care. But what about the single parents or the parents who both have to work during the day when this strike happens. I think those parents should be compensated because now they have to provide paid daycare for the days those teachers are at play

      • Maureen Says:

        This attitude is exactly the problem. Teacher’s are professionals who put many years into university and continue to do professional development so that your children can be educated properly and not have to work a minimum wage job. Teacher’s are NOT free babysitters. And if most schools were considered “day cares” they would be shut down for their overcrowded rooms, mold, asbestos etc. You should want high quality education and a safe environment for your own children. Deal with finding them proper care for 3 days so that hopefully they can have an improved school life in the long run.

      • Laura Says:

        parents providing daycare? you mean… PARENTING?!?!?!?!

    • SR Says:

      I do hope you realize that teacher’s do not get paid for the days that they strike. They are actually making a sacrifice so the education in BC may improve.

  202. kathiemcgregor Says:

    Please forward to a NDP or Independent member of the legs to be part of the debate on Bill22…I am writing mine! Same story different examples!

  203. tonya pankratz Says:

    I knew you were a writer, but WOW. Your eloquence and strong voice has hopefully woken some people up. Thanks for writing this letter and I plan to follow your blog!
    Tonya

  204. annonymous Says:

    This parent stands behind all teachers 110%.

  205. Laura Says:

    Ah’ men! You took the words out of my mouth. Good for you!

  206. Nicki Says:

    Principle on Cortes Island has told students they will be suspended if the participate in the walkout…seams a Tad undemocratic.

    • Petina Says:

      Students: “YAAAAYYY! EXTENDED WALKOUT!!!

      The Principal seems to be missing the point.

      The high school I went to is right across the street from the school board office. There was a plan formed between my school and the French immersion high next door that, at 10 am every student from both schools would just walk out en masse and camp out on the school board’s lawn. It would have been a peaceful protest of some 1500 students. The teachers begged us to behave and made a point of telling us that any student who left the classroom without permission would get a detention. A pair of geniuses in both schools got bathroom passes and used them to pull the fire alarms just after the time we were supposed to walk out. Instead of the lawn, it was the muster and head count on the athletics field. It wasn’t how the masterminds of the student protest intended on the walkout happening, but the teachers understood the message we were trying to get across. I heard it happened at other high schools in our district as well.

  207. yyyoyoi Says:

    I do not stand behind these teachers. I WANT A REPORT CARD!!! I WANT MY CHILD TO BE TAUGHT!!!! I as a health care worker would not DARE put my residents in jeopardy because I want more money. I am happy that I have a job, PERIOD, Those people I work for mean the world to me dispite my wage. You teachers are not thinking about these children!!!

    • Notayoyo Says:

      Ummm…. Yyyoyoi, I do not know where in BC your children attend school but if their school is anything like the school that my kids attend then I must say that they are very well taught, cared for and respected despite this dispute. If I ever want to know how my child is doing I ask their teacher who is always willing to meet with me and address any questions or concerns I may have. From the out of touch tone of this post, I wonder if it is posted by a parent or more likely a party clown.

    • kim Dicken Says:

      Exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Heather Cooper Says:

      Umm, yyyoyoi, did you even read the letter?

  208. mr concerned about my child Says:

    IF teachers see themselves as indespensible, and as an essential service, they should NOT be allowed to strike.
    I support teachers and education.
    I DO NOT support paying teachers more.
    I do support having more teachers, more resources, smaller classrooms and less or no portables.
    Given teachers get 11 weeks off a year (not including stats, pro-d days or weekends) they are well rested during the year.100% of people I know would take their deal all day long.
    Teachers that believe they are not paid for their 11 weeks off a year are wrong. They get an annual salary and the time off.
    My son is in grade 2, and has had awesome teachers in each of his three year so far. I support them, but NOT this insane issue. 15% pay increase over 3 years…..I thought you were eductated…..this is an insane demand.
    I would LOVE to have a workday that was from 8-3, with half days once a week, pro-d days, and 11 weeks paid vacation.
    Get back to work and quit being martyrs (sp?),
    You are spoiled and should get back to work.

    • Angelique Venne Says:

      I’m not a teacher but a dedicated full time mom of 18 years. I am on the PAC executive, I am in the classrooms and have been since 1998. I see what the conditions are for both the teachers and the students, how they have changed so dramatically over the years. I would put money on the fact that you could not last one week in an average BC classroom, it’s not what you remember it to be. If you are truly concerned about your child, you would take your next vacation week during the school session and engross yourself completely in your child’s school life. You will be shocked at how misgiving your above statement is.

    • MCY Says:

      I would respectfully suggest you go back to university and become a teacher. If you do, then we’d see how you would “take our deal all day”. We’ll see whether you, as a teacher, would be working 8-3, work half days once a week etc… It’s probably easier than you make it out to be!!! I always tell my friends that I’d gladly change jobs with them for a day. Funny, no one has taken me up on it.
      Let me tell you that in my career, I’ve coached hundreds of students in various sports, gone over lessons at lunch time and after school … all in my own time. Are you called upon to do so in your work?

  209. KP Says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share all the details of what you face each day. I support the teachers and feel they need to be given more respect and higher wages.

  210. Dani Says:

    I have recently graduated highschool, about to enter university in hopes of becoming a teacher. I fully support you educators to fight for British Columbian students. Coming from a smaller town, My school lacked neccessary equipment for the students. It was the teachers who provided, entrigued, and supported each of their students as best as they could. Teachers and students deserve more than what is provided now.
    Being that hopefully I will be teaching someday, I hope I get the opportunity to improve the lives of students. Not act as a childcare provider to uninterested students that I cant help to the fullest potential.

    • Nameless Says:

      Just realize you are joining a saturated industry, and are setting yourself up for teachers “low” income.

  211. Martina Says:

    PLEASE PLEASE quit your whining!!! your blinds in the classroom don’t shut? Oh, i’m sorry, I didn’t realize that’s needed to have a good education, in my days, we didn’t even have blinds in the classroom. Somehow, I still managed to get good grades.
    Honey, get a life, and for the love of god, please quit whining. just do your work and do your best.

    • Wylee Guy Smiley Says:

      Really? That’s the message you got from that letter? That blinds that don’t work are her biggest issue?

    • AM Says:

      I can’t believe that you have picked the most insignificant part of her letter to focus on and criticize! Honestly, don’t you realize that the crux of the letter is that the government is failing the system – perhaps on purpose – because they don’t believe in using taxpayers money for the good of the taxpayers! No, they’d rather have education funded by the rich who can afford to send their children to private schools, and then not have to support the poor in their public schools. Teachers are speaking up for those citizens.

      • AM Says:

        On top of that, this government doesn’t like having to pay citizens a decent wage either – so they are bent upon breaking the unions so that workers will have no one to protect their rights.

    • MCY Says:

      Let me guess your age…..

  212. Mme Robinson Says:

    Reblogged this on Bienvenue à la maternelle! and commented:
    An excellent read!

  213. Trinita Says:

    Brilliant! It breaks my heart that the Government is acting as the big bully on the playground!

  214. Ruthless Says:

    I have never agreed with the essential services legislation. It lessens the definition of what essential is. Teachers are not essential to public health and safety

    • Ruthless Says:

      I worked in a designated essential field for years and it essentially makes a union worthless. For those that are all up in arms over unions, the reason you can make a decent wage is because we have unions in this country. They are a necessary evil

    • Nameless Says:

      It is self defeating when Teachers imply they are not an essential service. Teachers are vital to the development of Canadian youth (and boast it). There is a significant financial impact that walking off the job has on the economy, and struggling families.

  215. Rob Says:

    Let’s face it, the problem lies in the organizations that make up the system, namely, the union and the government. Since the contents of the blog represents a member of the union, I’ll save the government rant for another time. A union once served a purpose … fight for the rights of it’s worker … those being taken advantage of by the employers. Now a union is no better than than those greedy employers …. politics, bureaucracy, greed, manipulative, dishonest, self-serving, and worst off, lacking conscience. A union is no different than a corporation. It is purely self serving. Here are some questions for our union members:

    1) Why do teachers with seniority make excessively more money then those without while doing the same job? Where is the fairness?

    2) Does job performance determine a teacher’s salary? Do teachers every get fired for poor job performance (let’s face it, there are some crappy teachers too)? OK, I’m hung up on $$, but if the teachers didn’t bitch and moan so much about it, maybe i wouldn’t care…. it’s like union members are living in a separate reality.

    3) Given their education level and accounting for the amount of time off (summer, x-mas, spring break), can a teacher (with lets say 8 years or more experience) honestly say they are underpaid? How many of us hard working folks (believe it or not, teachers aren’t the only ones putting in extra hours) in the private sector can take home a year’s salary and also get approx 3 months off + vacation time?

    4) Why during contract negotiation, the union always complain about the education system, lacking resources, cut backs, and yet ask for a pay increase even when the economy is crap? Instead of asking for more, has the union every offered to give some back … I thought they said we are all supposed to be working together for the sake of our children?

    5) Why doesn’t the union fix what is obviously wrong with the structure of the union? Once the wages are more equitable across the board, per chance the school board has some money left over to hire some additional teachers and helpers.

    Lastly, it’s clear that our government finds it easiest to cut back on education and health care while selling out to big business … what a bunch of @$#$@#’s. But when two self-serving entities butt heads (like divorce court), the ones that suffer are the ones that they advertise as the ones they are serving and protecting. We shouldn’t have to put up with the nonsense, but a las, we are sheeple.

    • Rob2 Says:

      Rob, as a student teacher (teacher-in-training) I can at least answer your first point about the pay scale. Basically, the longer you are a teacher, the more you get payed. This scale is actually a lot more fair than you might think. As with a lot of jobs or skills, the longer you are a teacher, the better you get at it. Research shows that on average, if someone is going to become a highly effective teacher, it takes around 10 years. Yes, it CAN take that long to develop the skills to be really good at something. And this 10 year period actually corresponds with the pay scale for teachers in BC. The longer you are a teacher, the more you get paid, and the salary cap is at 10 years of teaching (seniority). So essentially they pay a teacher more every year for the new and more effective skills they develop. That is why it is fair that someone who has been teaching for ten years makes considerably more than I will when I start teaching next year.

      • Rob Says:

        Thank you for your perspective. I suggest effectiveness in a teaching position can have a lot to do with prepared material…. there is a huge time savings there if it can be well implemented, organised and distributed within the system. I’d be interested in knowing how the statistics are gathered and how effectiveness is being measured. The fact is, in any industry, you cannot reliably use statistics to determine how effective a worker CAN be. IMO, this is absolutely something that is dated and requires changing for a union based job (there is something wrong when a union does not treat all its members equally). Also, I wish the union or govnt would just post their pay scales including benefits, etc for all to see. This is really is something that should be provide for public sector jobs. I have found stats that indicate teachers receive more than a fair package …. however, it may be wrong.. I dont know for sure.

  216. TwellMedia Says:

    Removed at the request of the poster.

    • Rob Says:

      How late does the average teacher work during summer vacation?

      • TwellMedia Says:

        Removed at the request of the poster.

      • Elaine Says:

        As late as you work when you get home from your job and aren’t marking or preparing for tomorrow’s classes . Ask an account how many hours they work when they’ve finished tax season!

      • Tara Says:

        and the accountants are paid for it are they not?

      • Dmagz Says:

        Actually your husband IS paid for it. Your husband is on salary. Some districts will even pay you over 12 months instead of 10 months–if over 10 you obviously get more money, and can budget out the funds for the summer months. My friends are paid over 12 months…and thus DO get paid over summer. The wage your husband makes is well above the average for someone paid over 12 months. Your husband gets a greater wage for 10 months. So you cannot complain about the pay, I’m sorry, but no.

      • Rob Says:

        The point is …. not unlike those who choose to work in the fishing industry or farming, there is a high season where they work above average hours and then there is a lull when they have significant time off. Does an experienced teacher not already receive above average yearly income compared to the average Canadian? It may be ignorant of me to consider this, but logically, I would assume that the pay package takes into account when school is not in session and a teacher is compensated accordingly when school is in session…. there is a strong union looking out for their best interest, right?

        OK, how many people would like to make 60-80K/year and get 3 months off + vacation + sick leave + whatever other leave that can be negotiated + pension plan (life’s bonus: get to spend the best time of the year playing with the kids). Seriously, you cannot tell me that teachers are not making a decent living comparable to the rest of us.

      • Lia Grundle Says:

        Rob, Rob, Rob – wake up and smell the coffee. Teachers don’t get paid for the summer months – they get paid for the 10 months they work and boy do they put in the hours! Where do you get your 60 – 80 thousand a year figure? Only administrators make that kind of money. I had to go to University for 8 years at a cost of nearly $70,000.00 to get over $50,000.00 a year and that was only in my last 5 years. Take home pay after all the deductions? Half of that. Oh, and did you know that teachers pay Employment Insurance every pay cheque and can NEVER collect on it? Did you know too, that we are expected to provide all our teaching supplies? I took home boxes of marking every day I taught and I never left the building until after 5 every night because I was doing something with and for the kids. I was not alone. I took kids on two day trips to visit Universities – I was in our auditorium at 7am with over a hundred grade 12 students every week to prepare them for their futures.
        I would like you to spend one day in a classroom. I would like you to deal with the lives of these young people and their families. I would like you to deal with all the administrivia that goes with the job. I would like you to work through to the wee small hours to prepare lesson plans that will inspire and stimulate even the most reluctant student. I would like you to find desks for the extra students who are currently sitting on window sills or on the floor because there is no limit to class size. I was in business making a heck of a lot more money before I became a teacher at the age of 45. I became a teacher because I felt a passion to inspire. I was lucky because I had an employer who valued my contribution. That’s all changed due to abuse of this government. Soon there won’t be anyone left wanting to be a teacher because who would willingly face this kind of stress day in and day out and be told that you’re greedy, lazy and out of touch with reality. Yes, I’m still working with students because they have lost most of the their classroom support and I can’t stand to see them dismissed by a government who should be looking for ways to support their dreams for the future. But I’m in my 70″s now and can’t do this forever. I don’t think I could count on you to pick up the slack – I sure hope someone does or we will all suffer the consequences.
        Enjoy your coffee, Rob – don’t be like Christy and fail to listen to the words!!

      • Elya Says:

        Uuhhhh, teachers can CHOOSE to be paid over the summer months. Talk to your payroll department.

      • Dawn Says:

        Lia Lia Lia, they are heavily compensated for 10 months of work. I KNOW the pay scale because I at one point was going to become a teacher. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m supporting everything else you’re asking for. I don’t support the government for the legislation they’re trying to pull. However, strictly speaking about wages, you are well compensated. If I were a teacher I’d welcome that wage. I went to school for 9 years and make $35,000 GROSS…take home is around $20,000 after deductions. The starting wage for a teacher in a category 5 (BEd) with 0 years in a continuing contract makes $45,000 roughly speaking int he lower mainland. Every year you are compensated for a full-years work up to 10 years in most districts (some have shorter pay scales some longer)….you end up around the $75,000 mark. Halfway through you’re at about $60,000….most teachers that I know have been teaching longer than 10 years which means they’re already at the cap of $75,000 roughly. The hours you put in, even if they made up for the 12 weeks off work, equal what a normal person would work, 40 hours a week for 50 weeks (I get 2 weeks vacation paid). So, no you’re not underpaid. I would put you equal or above similar professions. You cannot include deductions. I work in finance, when you discuss wage you talk about it in gross terms, not net, because your deductions include many benefits which are not equal across the board.

        Not to mention, teachers are given a wage increase over the 10 years, guaranteed as long as they are continuing contract. Most people IF they get a yearly raise, it’s after passing a performance review judging my effectiveness at my job. If I don’t pass, I won’t be let go, I’ll be coached, but I won’t get my raise.

        So, gripe about your contract stripping and what affects the kids here. Gripe only about wages if you’re actually unfairly compensated which I KNOW you are not. You make a dang good wage. Perhaps what I would be more for is having a larger budget for supplies that would come out of your own pocket—that I would be happy with.

    • Rob Says:

      Lia, those are systematic issues that are well known. That’s a fight that we should all be involved in. Unfortunately, it is used as an agenda by the union as a bargaining chip. If the union, through the goodness of their member’s hearts organised a campaign during non-contract negotiation period to get Joe public involved to make a difference in how our government runs the education system, I can envision that just about everyone would be on your side.

      Unfortunately, it is being clouded when thrown together with requests for additional pay and benefits.

      Also, if you are in your 70′s, do you not consider yourself a part of the problem when young teachers say they cannot get a full time job? Retire and volunteer if it is your life’s calling. If you need the money, then at least state it instead of giving a one-sided tell all.

      • TwellMedia Says:

        Removed at the request of the poster.

      • TwellMedia Says:

        Removed at the request of the poster.

      • Lia Grundle Says:

        Most of what I do IS volunteer, but I have a son on permanent disability so I have two households to support and my pension is very small for the 19 years I taught. So my nominal fee just helps with the heat and light. Not that I feel the need to justify anything I wrote – just clarification – and I never did TOC so that I didn’t take a job from anyone else.

      • Dawn Says:

        I spent 9 years in university, with a BA and a Masters. I make $2000 a month take home, and at my cap will make $2500 a month take home. Again, you can’t speak in terms of net, because teachers will take home less than the avg. person because of all the taxable benefits such as pension, RRSP matching, health benefits, union dues (which are outrageous by the way), etc. Remember, everyone else’s wages are spoken about in gross terms, so I take home $20,000 NET. MUCH less than your husband and I have nearly $80,000 to pay back in student loans. So…..your husband IS well off. And my husband and I take home $40,000 combined and we can provide for our family just fine. So I’m not sure why you think your husband cant support you on that wage.

      • Nameless Says:

        Dawn has it right, you can’t look at Net income. If you look at the bctf website the salary’s are posted there http://bctf.ca/uploadedfiles/SalaryGrids/Dist37.pdf . Teachers make 45k to 75k, and 80k with a masters, for 10 months, with great job security.

    • Melissa Says:

      He can mow lawns in the summer. Or find other work…….give me a break if you are that hard up find a menial job to do….instead of your holiday.

  217. Am teaching up in the Arctic on leave from BC but am fully in support of the job action and appreciated the way you were able to lay it out to the Minister and beyond the challenges with being a teacher in BC! Thank You!

  218. Janine Says:

    This piece you’ve written makes my heart ache. Incredible. Thank you

  219. nadine Reaugh Says:

    Thank you, as a former STA and sister/cousin if dozens of teachers, I thank you.

  220. Something everyone needs to read! She has done a fantastic job of getting her message across.

  221. nichiren1 Says:

    You have so clearly and eloquently articulated the realities we face as teachers today…thank you!

  222. Thank you for taking the time to compose a letter that so well explains the situation in which we teachers find ourselves!

  223. pinklea Says:

    You have expressed the reality of teaching in BC so eloquently. Yes, we teachers would love a pay increase (who wouldn’t?!), but more than that, we want to be able to do our jobs properly, with enough materials and supplies, with enough extra support for all those kids who need it, within a safe environment, and with the RESPECT of this government and the general public.

    To all those people who whine about us already making good money, only working from 9 to 3, having the whole summer off, all those pro-d days and all those paid sick days – if you think it’s so wonderful, why didn’t you become teachers? Most of us didn’t choose this profession for the money, we chose it because we actually like and care about kids!

  224. Meghan Says:

    Thank you so much! I have been trying to spread the same message for so long and am feeling so frustrated and powerless in the face of so much negative press! I will spread your message as far and wide as I can!

  225. Patricia Enair Says:

    From a SD #36 parent, thank you. I hope you don’t mind if I share it with a few of my friends

  226. Phanyxx Says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write this, Cheryl. As someone who has little-to-no exposure to our education system, I really appreciate you providing a glimpse into the challenges you’re facing.

  227. Teresa Jackson Says:

    Thank you so much. Incredibly well put and I have posted the link on my face book account.

  228. I know your letter say that schools are open but this is a direct quote from the letter I received from my children’s school today, signed by Sherry Elwood, Superintendent of Schools:
    “During these three days schools will be closed to students as we are unable to provide appropriate supervision or instruction”
    The schools may be open, but not to our kids!
    The Government needs to get their heads on straight. Teachers are educating our future doctors, politicians, lawyers, police officers, pharmacists, healthcare aids…. they are helping to create a foundation on which our future selves are going to be very dependant on. Do we want to spend our old age in crappy care facilities, barely getting our basic needs taken care of?! Because this is were we are going to end up if our children do NOT get the education and support they need today!

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      George Abbott himself said on the news tonight that ALL SCHOOLS ARE OPEN. I believe it’s in the School Act that schools have to remain open. They won’t be able to provide appropriate instruction, but they most certainly can provide adequate supervision. One administrator can supervise a whole gymnasium full of kids. Have you considered contacting the superintendent and providing Mr. Abbott’s statement from this evening’s news? The schools are open – they just don’t want you using them because then they can’t accuse teachers of throwing students into the streets (as the Premier claimed we were doing in Tuesday’s House debate).

  229. C.E. Collins..Yarrow BC Says:

    Very well said let’s hope it’s read and changes circumstances for the better somehow….Thi$ gov’t has its priorities mixed up, education is essential and our kids deserve better, along with their teachers. Good Luck eh…:)

  230. laurent Says:

    Excellent letter and I am happy it’s received so many views and comments.

    If you read this letter into a video camera and post it on Youtube more people will forward it around and your message would spread farther and wider.

    On the internet people would rather watch a video than actually read something.

    http://resp-info.ca

  231. Reblogged this on Insights With Billy Vee and commented:
    Teaching in the public School system in BC. I couldn’t say it any better! My wife is a teacher and I see first hand how it affects their whole lives. Teachers are ripped off by a society of spoiled brats with entitlement complexes.

    • kim Dicken Says:

      Thanks for letting us know what teachers really think of our kids. Just like teachers- not all are money hungry – not all kids are spoiled brats. Maybe comments like this & thoughts by teachers like this is why they need to be held accountable for their actions.

  232. Mark Fraser Says:

    I agree with you 100%. It makes me ill to see our system deteriorate. I have two children in the system and I worry about how well they are being prepared for the future. I agree this situation is dire and requires extreme action. The BCTF has taken on the fight and I appreciate that. If however, I do agree that changes must be made immediately how can I come to terms with the fact that the BCTF refuses to take their demand of a 15% wage increase off the table. If their most pressing concerns are class sizes and special needs funding why do they insist on a three year wage increase with an annual cost of $300/600/600 million. If their most pressing concerns were to be met shouldn’t this money, if available, be used to reduce class size and increase special needs funding? Increasing wage costs by 1.5 billion will have no effect on the daily class situation. Again if available 1.5 billion could hire many teachers which would immediately reduce class size. In the first year alone this money could hire over 6000 new teachers with an additional 6000 the following year. It seems clear that in this difficult financial time the best solution for the kids would be to use, if available, the funds to increase the number of teachers by 12000. Class sizes would be greatly reduced, and the quality of education would increase.

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      It is illegal for us to negotiate class size. That is why it cannot be on our list of demands. The government stripped that right from us in 2001. I can’t speak for anyone other that myself, but I would gladly take 0%, 0%, and 0% in exchange for the immediate re-instatement of class size and composition limits.

      But, we’re not allowed to ask for that. If we do, we’re breaking the law.

      • Mark Fraser Says:

        This is were my hart goes out to teachers like yourself who really care about the education they are providing and what is truly important to the children. If more teachers like you took a stance within the union and expressed what is important to you as a teacher perhaps we would not be in this dead lock. I applaud you for going against the unions position on wage increases and your willingness to address the real issues. If the BCTF had the same position and was not asking for a wage increase, and truly was fighting for all the concerns you have mention the public would be 100% behind them. The general public would support any action, and may even participate. Unfortunatly the union has lost much of the publics support and the real issues have been lost in the publics dismay of the insult of such a unrealistic wage incease demand. So for this I am very disappointed with the BCTF and how it has squanderd an opportunity to get the publics support, and fight for the real issues.

      • Blair Says:

        I completely agree with both of you, Mark and Cheryl. I have been recently laid off and thus may have a bias with respect to wage increases because this recession is a cold reality for my family of four.

        Thank you Cheryl and Mark for contributing to this forum as I believe we can make inroads together. If the wage increase demand was off the table during negotiations and the funding requested for the increase was allocated to improved conditions, public support would be overwhelming the government. How can we fight this law which prohibits the negotiation for class size composition, etc?

        Perhaps a grass roots campaign like the one which fought against the HST could start. What I beleive is necessary though, is transparency with respect to the costs associated for the resources for the additional teachers, support staff, and facility improvements.

        I also believe that momentum would be tremendous if efficiencies could be suggested and thus realized. For example, there are a few instances in which parents have fought against closing schools with both declining enrollment and aged, unsafe, structures which are expensive to operate due to upgrades required. Cheryl, could the teachers, as a union be involved in suggesting ways to cut costs which would be of benefit to our educational system(ie. use money saved as noted above to use for more teachers)?

        I am really glad that I took the time to contribute my thoughts as sharing and learning from others will make this better for our children-which I believe everyone truly has as their best interest at heart.

  233. Allie Munro Says:

    An incredibly well-written letter about an incredibly sad situation. I have a toddler and another baby arriving shortly and I cannot comprehend how the gov’t can bulldoze our children’s education system like this. Are these so-called decision makers not parents themselves? Don’t they look at the US and see the results of education being devalued? *head shakes* Thank you BCTF for standing up for the future education of my babies. They are the most important things in the world to me.

    And thank you for posting this. May your words continue to spread…

  234. Kim Matson Says:

    Thank you Cheryl! from a teacher in SD#20. I can empathize with many of these challenges. This year I began the year with strategically placing posters over holes in the wall to try to make my class look better, as they was no funding to fill or paint the walls.

  235. Lisa Says:

    This is amazing, touching and TRUE !!!

    I have worked in this field for 18 yrs ….its getting worse not better for teachers , the cut backs are making it impossible to do the great job as we’re still trying to do …
    I wish everyone who is ignorant of the truth could read this !!
    Well done

  236. Shannon Says:

    All I have to say is… BRAVO. Standing ovation for this thoughtful, well written post about what is happening. It was very enlightening, and I hope everyone reads this. I truly, truly wish for a positive outcome for you and all of our teachers!

  237. Natalie Says:

    Cheryl,
    I just wanted to thank you for writing such a well-articulated, eloquent letter.
    I am not yet a teacher, but am currently in the process of obtaining my degree in education, and it touches me deeply to know that teachers have to work under the least favourable conditions where they still have to give their 100%, if not more. You’re absolutely right, to be given the current classroom conditions – as described in your letter- is not fair to the teachers, nor is it fair to the students.
    I support you greatly in your effort to be heard, and thank you so much, for fighting for the rights of future teachers too, because if you’re given a voice, we, as new teachers, will too have a chance to be heard and have a say in the matter when our turn comes.
    Sincerely,
    Natalie

  238. jaynesbooks Says:

    Well done. I am surprised that more teacher’s haven’t blogged about this. Maybe you should send your letter to The Province and the Vancouver Sun and other newspapers and see if they will publish it.

  239. Wow thank-you Cheryl for an amazing letter! It put a lump in my throat and brought tears to my eyes! I am a parent of two very young students in SD42 and I admit that before reading this I wasn’t aware of what teachers were going through, what they were fighting for and what all the fuss was about. I just had an “Aha Moment” and I get it now. Tell me, what can parents do to help?

  240. Shannon Says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful letter… as a parent, I appreciate hearing this.

    On a side note, a 44 year old school likely also has asbestos – and given the state of disrepair you mentioned and the carpenter ants, if your school DOES in fact have asbestos, it should be condemned as a serious health hazard!

    Best of luck to you and your fellow teachers. I might suggest supporters of your views should sign this petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/kill-bill-22/

    Sincerely,
    Shannon

  241. seysisland Says:

    Reblogged this on following the stars in my eyes and commented:
    I am so glad I caught this in the news feed on my Facebook page, because THIS is one raw emotion that breathes a lot of fire. She is one true trailblazer and seeing how her online followers are strongly behind her, I hope she will see the same turnout in her community in Canada. If the teacher is not satisfied, how could the students be?

  242. Melanie Says:

    Incredible. Insightful. Relevant.

    Thank you for your words. I feel they apply to all teachers, not just those in BC. I’m an Alberta teacher.

  243. rsengara Says:

    Like the advertisements by the BCTF, this post ignores the real issue here. I do not believe the government disputes the need for small classes, reduced work loads, and better learning conditions for students, rather the idea of giving teachers a 15% raise, while the the voting constituents are making less and less money given the current economic circumstances is political suicide on the part of the government.

    Here’s a financial reality that teachers don’t seem to comprehend, when income and spending from private citizens decrease as a result of decreasing income, revenues generated by consumption taxes and income taxes decline. As a tax payer, who has seen a pay cut due to financial realities, the gall of the teachers to ask for a SUBSTANTIAL raise given the circumstances, is unreal, especially in lieu of other public sector unions accepting zero sum contracts.

    Teachers, like always, are completely out of touch.

  244. Nameless Says:

    Teachers seem surprised that they are paid less than the other provinces, but if you move to Alberta or Ontario you will make more money in any industry. If a teacher is surprised by the salary, then they didn’t do their homework when they chose their profession. Teaching is an over saturated job.

  245. Jack Says:

    whine whine whine…. if only you worked a real job

  246. CarolColes Says:

    This has truly made me think..things need to change ..for teachers and students Thank you for sharing

  247. Ann Says:

    Thank you, thank you for your impassioned and insightful article. I’m more behind teachers than ever. I do not agree with the implication, however, that the strike hasn’t impacted me, my child, or their education. I have reached out to my children’s teachers and have gotten a phone call and an email response, but was told in the phone call that they couldn’t discuss some items because of the job action. And some of my emails and notes have been ignored. Other parents tell me that if I show up at the end of the school day, the teacher will speak to me about my child, but I work and can’t do that. My child brings home papers that they are failing, and I have no idea why or how to help them. It’s not about report cards to me. It is about those all important parent-teacher interviews and student led conferences. I really am missing those this year. This is the first year my children have brought home really poor marks on their tests and I know I am not seeing all of them, (“Oh, I left it at school” is a constant comment which I could combat with great insight usually provided by a teacher). I feel as though teachers were trying to protect us by the job action they took, (as opposed to an all out strike), but I feel like we aren’t doing enough to support our teachers. My child is with their teacher for more hours a week than they are with me. Sure, teachers receive better pay and benefits than many of my friends but shouldn’t they? I want the best and most dedicated people forming my children’s experiences. Great teachers provide a level of care, social responsibility, excitement and innovation — it’s more than just reading and math, as key as those items are. And I have yet to speak to a teacher that doesn’t talk about the importance of their children and the classroom as their FIRST concern. Those are the first things out of their mouths when I speak to friends and family who are teachers. You are right about more parents becoming active partners — I am more dedicated than ever that I need to do something for the caring teachers that (try) to do so much for my children. Thank you!

  248. Thank you so much for your letter! I have linked it to my facebook page and now am inspired to write my own letter. Well said!

  249. Every voter in BC should read this and weep—and then jump into action on behalf of our teachers.

  250. David Beland Says:

    If you are so concerned about the deplorable conditions and childrens learning enviroments, drop you demands immediately for a pay raise and work with the government to put the money save in raises to GOOD use by hiring more teachers to reduce class size you so urgently need and pour more money into learning resources instead of your pocketbooks!

  251. Shawn Says:

    Unfortunately, it comes down to money. It always does. There simply is not enough cash in the system to address all the needs. Here are some possible solutions.

    1) Forced age retirement. Older teachers, if you really care about the kids, you will head for the exits at 60. Your skills are beginning to deteriorate and you have achieved maximum pension. You need to give up your top end salary job, for a more vibrant, youthful teacher who will be working for less to gain experience, but probably has a better starting point in their career then you did, because of the speed of education and the speed of information learned now days. This one move alone would save tons of money and benefit the incoming teachers, as well as the students as efficiency and energy of a younger workforce would be cheaper, faster, and generally more productive. Sadly, most teachers(like most Canadians), have not saved enough for retirement, and have become taxing on a system that rewards tenure.

    2) Performance based salaries – Your salary can’t go up just because you are another year older and another year in to your career. There has to be a performance based review of teachers. There has to be the ability to fire bad teachers. The union can’t be so strong as to protect anyone who is already in the system. There has to be a process to keep the really good teachers(like the one on this blog post), and weed out the ones that just went into the profession because of summers off and holidays(unfortunately they are out there).

    3) Year round schooling – I am not suggesting working all year. I am suggesting a rotational educational calendar divided into 3 semesters where kids and teachers would have options on which semester they take off. Maybe everyone doesn’t want the summer off. Maybe the load could be balanced better. Maybe Grades are divided into 3A and 3B whereby you have to take 2 of the 3 semesters to complete your year. More choices could mean less students per classroom. I understand this is a totally different approach, but perhaps their could be some class size benefits.

    You can complain all you want about issues, but you can only move forward with proposing solutions that may or may not work. What are your solutions?

    • kim Dicken Says:

      Totally agree – Well Said!!!

    • D. Mat Says:

      Merit pay for teachers has proved to be unworkable in virtually every jurisdiction it has been tried. The complexity involved in teaching and the variables that must be considered simply does allow for an objective measure of “merit.” This is why most jurisdictions continue to use a pass/fail or competent/incompetent model. Merit pay leads simply to parent or administrator pleasing. A quasi popularity contest that has very little to do with learning outcomes. As for forced aged retirement, it quite simply would be unconstitutional and a violation of an individuals right to work. One option would be early retirement incentives which of course would involve money and more bleating from the public. There is a process for removing incompetent teachers from the classroom. The process involves the active participation of administrators in evaluating teacher performance, developing a plan for improving teaching practices, and re-evaluation of performance and subsequent dismissal or retention. The union has bargained to protect the process, not the bad teachers. Perhaps the public should ask why administrators more often than not turn a blind eye to reported in competencies. Is it because they simply want to avoid the issue and feel it isn’t worth the trouble?. This is about administrator accountability regarding their teaching staff. Many administrators prefer to simply hide behind the skirt of the union on the issue and cry about how hard it is to remove incompetent teachers…..yes sometimes having a fair and judicious process is “hard” but I guess that is why they get paid those big bucks.

      • OBgirl Says:

        What is wrong with ‘parent-pleasing’ and when has this ever been tried? I can’t remember ever being given any sort of satisfaction survey or even being asked a single question about my pleasure (or displeasure) with my child’s teachers. Nor can my mother in the last 30 years.

        Teachers may be employed officially by the BC Government, but unofficially they are employed by each parent. It is, after all, their children that they are teaching. I highly doubt teachers are going to start taking parents out on dates or buying them lavish presents just to woo them if there was some sort of parental survey put out to judge whether a teacher is good or not.

        Right now there are no less than six parents who are yanking our kids out of their current classroom because their teacher is just so awful. I think that’s pretty telling that it’s not one parent or one problem child, or even two or three. Some parents are so desperate that they can’t even see through to the end of the years and are vacating over spring break. But this will never be made public, the poor parents of the grade below will never have forewarning to try and move their child to a different classroom. Because that would be ‘parent pleasing’, right? Our opinions and experiences with this teacher mean absolutely nothing. All that matters is that she manages to get the kids to pass some assignments which most are, so the fact that this teacher is horrendously mean and cold and even the six year olds now hate going to school and being around said teacher is also meaningless and more pleasing of people who absolutely cannot judge merit? Who is BETTER to judge merit than the students of and the parents who interact with the teacher all year?

  252. Paul Says:

    Thank-you so much for this. My sister is a teacher, and while I don’t have much recent first hand experience (I graduated in 2000), I can say that I feel very lucky to have had the privilege to go through the public school system before drastic cuts began. Even at that time the cuts were beginning to many programs including art, music and sports. Schools are the second most influential part of our society on the people children become, second only to family. It’s time we started treating them that way. As of now the primary – secondary education system gets far less respect from the public and the government than its position as second single most influential aspect of children’s development into strong, powerful, and virtuous Canadians.

  253. Michele Says:

    Cheryl,
    Thank you for your very moving and detailed account of the current teaching conditions in B.C. I taught in northern BC for 10 years (1995-2005) and certainly experienced many of the cutbacks that you describe. Although I am not currently in Canada, I am still employed as a teacher so can empathize with your plight. All of my best friends are teachers and have kept me abreast of the deteriorating conditions over the years.
    I support you and all of my former colleagues in your fight to preserve quality education for BC’s kids.
    ~ A former BC teacher

  254. Thank you for your insights and for your passion and for caring about our children — but, most importantly for using your voice, and so elegantly. A student in my class posted this on our class Face Book page and urged all his fellow students to read; I teach at UBC.

  255. Kate Says:

    Please send this to all major BC papers so that more than just teachers will read it. Thank you for writing it – now it needs to be read by EVERYONE.

  256. Kim Says:

    Cheryl,

    Your brilliant letter brought tears to my eyes. I teach in Saskatchewan and last spring we were vilified by our government and media and forced into a contract that is not great. Know that the teachers of BC have all my support.

  257. Heather Murdoch Says:

    An eloquent overview; the personal voice becomes the collective soul of teachers sharing what they live day to day in this decaying educational system. Bravo and thank you for your insight and passion. I am a teacher and I stand strong and united for democracy and quality public education!

  258. Dana Says:

    WOW. This has brought me to tears. I see daily the lax attitude parents have towards not just their children’s education, but their children in general, and it makes me feel hopeless for the future. When parents start joining the teachers in the fight for education, rather than fighting against what teachers stand for, maybe things will start changing? Teachers aren’t babysitters. And they are not there to address and fix the problems that start at home. Educators help parents give children a future. Why is it that parents work SO hard to set their children up financially, but then leave the most important and difficult part (the ability to make decisions, critically think, take in and process information) to one person outside the family who is also relied on by 30+ other families every day?! Outrageous.

    All I can do is fight the fight as a parent. Play the part in my daughter’s life that I need and want to. Stand up for OUR educators when the coffee clatch moms are complaining about “the strike”. Pass on information that isn’t comfortable to hear (it’s not easy to look in the mirror and see part of the problem), but NEEDS to be heard.

    Its so easy to blame the government and educators for the issues. Let’s make changes at home too.

  259. Jason Says:

    I appreciate hearing about your side of things. However, I’m not entirely sold on your case. I’m not sure what teachers make per year on average, but I know a few senior teachers who make a VERY good wage. They’ve also taken the time to complete their masters and other courses to bump their salary up. While being extremely complicated, it would be nice if these senior teachers would be willing to stay at the same wage while negotiating for the newer teachers who don’t make so much. This would decrease the amount of money that would need to be spent by government in this CBA. The money has to come from somewhere, and running a deficit is a problem too. If you run a deficit to provide these services for children today, they will still be inconvenienced later on in life because they will be the ones paying higher taxes to balance the books later. Also, with an excess of teachers, it’s hard to argue your position with basic economics. In the private sector, supply and demand has a huge role in dictating costs, wages, etc. If teachers were in the private sector, I think wages would decrease because teachers willing to take less pay would be the ones hired. I’m not saying that teachers should be private or anything crazy like that, because the teachers willing to take less pay may just be the teachers giving less effort as well. I’m just saying that when you have an excess of something (teachers), it doesn’t make sense economically to have wages rise.

    • TwellMedia Says:

      Removed at the request of the poster.

      • Alan Hodgson Says:

        No one talks net. Your husband’s gross pay at 4 years is probably close to $60,000/year, which is already much higher than the average salary in BC.

        It’s also not relevant. Employers in business increase wages because they have trouble recruiting employees at lower wages, or to retain individual exceptional employees. Not just because people want more. There is a long lineup of people trying to become teachers in BC. Why would the employer need to pay more when they are not having trouble getting qualified people to do the job?

        The class size and conditions are very legitimate concerns. The wage demands, not so much.

      • Melissa Says:

        Stop whining about your husbands wage. Can you not see that the truth is written elsewhere on these threads? When I was as young as you are we made 1200, a month. We had 2 babies to support and did it. We had 4 kids on less than you do we ,made 2400. a month and i got a disability pension that added up to around 3200. a month. stop your bitching. I am so tired of it. Go to the friggint thrift store……..alot of people live on way less than you do .. 2 years ago we made 28 thousand I had a 15, 17, 19 and 21 year old at home…………shut up.

      • TwellMedia Says:

        Removed at the request of the poster.

      • Jason Says:

        TM, here’s one of the problems of forums. All viewpoints expressed in them end up being blanket statements. I have no idea of the exact salaries of each individual. I’m sure that some are fair, some make more than is fair, and some make less. I make the exact same amount as your husband as of this year, and you’re 100% right – it’s difficult to make it work! We also have one townhouse, one car and two sons to raise. My point is that we all want the ideal in life. When my sons go to school, I want them to be in manageable class sizes and, if they end up needing more assistance than others, I’d like them to be well provided for at school. I would also like a medical system that gives him everything he needs immediately. I would like him to be as safe as possible with a large, well-trained police force in my community. But we have to find a balance between spending money and the quality of service. The only options are higher taxes, or running a deficit. And another of my points was that running a deficit may help the kids now, but will hurt them more later. I can’t say that I empathize completely because I’m not in your position. But I can say that in my job, it’s about the almighty buck. My bosses don’t give me all the best tools or the time to do the job the way that I would like to. But I am using my skills, the tools I’m given, and the time I’m given to do the best job that I can. I’m sure your husband is doing that too.

        Cheers

      • Melissa Says:

        sorry I was quit harsh with you before….I usually don’t lash out. I was frustrated with seeing your comment over and over. and no we only bought into the market 11 years ago so it took 14 years to break into the market and 1 bankrupsty and a lost business in october due to the economy…..People have it tough. We all have it tough. He chose his profession and the wage that goes with it. Complain all you want it is tough for many many people.

    • Tammy Says:

      Dear Sir,
      I am a teacher who has just complete a 4 year Masters Degree in Educational Practice while teaching full time and raising two children. The financial cost of this endeavor well exceeded $20,000.00, the personal cost is incalculable. My husband and I shouldered these costs because we recognize the inadequacies of our education system. Your comment about teachers furthering their education just to bump up their salary is rather narrow minded. Your suggestion that those of us with higher education should be willing to accept a lower wage is insulting. Show me another profession where employees are not financially rewarded for their skills, knowledge and performance. Incidentally, what do you do for a living? How much do you make? Who pays your wage, both directly and indirectly?

      As an educator, I feel the need to gather as much skill and knowledge as I can in an attempt to meet the needs of my students. How odd that you would not celebrate the educator’s quest to better themselves which in turn provides children (you know, the ones who will be looking after you in your old age) with a better education. In Finland, the country most celebrated for their superior education system, teachers are highly regarded by the government and by the population. Practicing teachers have masters degrees which are paid for by the government. These teachers make a wage far superior to what I make here in BC. Student to teacher ratios are much smaller and resources are greater for individual needs.

      Much of the general public have missed the big idea. Instead of allowing the government to be reactive, slashing budgets, slagging teachers and blaming them for the inadequacies of our education system, why not call on them to be responsive to the situation? Why not ask the government to take responsibility for their actions that have been clearly laid out in Ms. Angst’s letter. Why not look to the experts for answers to the educational crisis at hand; the educated teachers in the classrooms who have first hand knowledge of student needs. Teachers are highly skilled at thinking critically and creatively solving problems and have the best interests of their students at heart.

      Have you read the Education Improvement Act? Without consideration of class sizes and compositions, what the government is proposing is not going to improve the education system. Rather, it is only going to make an already serious situation even worse. And when teachers cannot handle the insurmountable needs of the students in their classes, instead of supporting them, they want to be able to fire them and hire someone else to try to do it. When they can’t do it, they will fire them, too. Is your boss allowed to provide you with inadequate working conditions and then immediately fire you if you don’t meet the required number of checks on a list? Research states that before being able to address the task of learning, children need to feel safe, cared for and respected. Given that, how do you suppose a revolving door of teachers will affect the education of our children?

      Even my 9 year old understands that what is happening is wrong. He will be moving from a primary class of 21 students, many of whom have individual needs, to an intermediate class of 29 next year, where the ratio of students to teacher, and therefore, needs to teacher will be even greater. He clearly understands that his teacher will have even less individual time to offer him than this year’s teacher does. He has voiced his concerns for his own education.

      The public needs to stand with the teachers and the students, not against them. The public needs to stop getting caught in the government rhetoric. Currently, the government is feeding off the short term needs of finding childcare for three days next week. They would have you believe that this is all about greedy teachers wanting a huge raise in the midst of an economic downturn. What you need to understand is that my line in the sand is NOT the lack of a raise.

      MY LINE IN THE SAND IS BEING STRIPPED OF THE RIGHT TO FIGHT FOR THE ABILITY TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE LEARNING CONDITIONS FOR MY STUDENTS!

      I fight for the educational rights of all British Columbia students because, as a teacher, it is part of my job.
      Please keep that in mind. I invite you to join me as I stand with my colleagues next week. And know that I too, am scrambling to find childcare so that I can go out and fight for the educational rights of BC’s children.

      • Nameless Says:

        The original comment was in regards to teachers pay, not the classroom conditions. This gentleman may support smaller class sizes, and better working conditions. Don’t use classroom conditions to validate salary increases.

      • Jason P Says:

        @ Nameless:

        If your boss came to you tomorrow and increased your workload significantly (class size), asked you to take care of h/er unruly kids (special needs children) because the cost of a babysitter was too much, and then told you not to expect an increase in pay for the extra work, how would you react? Do you think you would be wrong in asking for more pay? Forget taking a few days off to convince your boss that h/er demands are excessive & abusive, most people without unions would just quit and start looking for a better employer. In turn, your boss would hire someone dumb enough or desperate enough to take the abuse. Now, throw in the fact that the “work” we are talking about here is our kids, the future, our future.

        Also, bear in mind that the request for 15% over three years is not an absolute demand. It is called bargaining. You start high and work your way backwards. You never expect to receive your first offer. However, in a democratic society when dealing with the gov’t, you also don’t expect to be have your right to negotiate being stripped away.

      • Nameless Says:

        Well I guess using the same logic, teachers are asking for less workload and be paid more for doing it?

        With my engineering degree I have had a 2% raise in 4 years. Since I am in my first 5 years on the job, if I were a teacher my salary would have increased by 30%, looking at a teacher with 1 year experience in 2007 to 5 years in 2012. (but that’s BC Hydro for you).

        I hope that the teachers can negotiate class size limits similar to what they were prior to 2001, but at a time when nobody is getting raises it is hard to feel bad for them not getting a raise.

      • Jason Says:

        Tammy, I’m not sure if it addresses your points, but you can see my response to TwellMedia above.

      • Jason P Says:

        Hi Nameless:

        Since, it seems you don’t have a full appreciation of the way collective bargaining works. I’m going to copy another poster’s (Scott) views on this because I don’t think I can say it better:

        “In the last few years I have come to learn a few things: our union leaders will always bring wage demands to the table because they know a great majority of the teachers in BC would be willing to continually give up wage demands in favour of concessions in the areas of class size and composition, resources etc. This is where the union can help you and make sure you still get a competitive wage, because they will take the rap as the ‘bad guy’ that has the nerve to ask for wage increase. Although, you can see in many of these negative replies, even that doesn’t always work, as the general public likes to call all teachers greedy. It doesn’t help that it is usually the ONLY demand we bring to the table that the media reports on. There are several other important issues and demands the union would like to negotiate, but these are seldom mentioned in news reports.

        This brings me to the art of negotiation, a principle that seems lost on every negative reply to this letter. What these people that want to call us greedy fail to understand is that you don’t want to come to a bargain table with one demand, because then you have nothing to bargain with. When you come to a FAIR negotiation table, you might only leave with a third of your demands. You give up something to get something. So maybe this time we would give up any wage increase for, say, a hard cap on class sizes in intermediates (something we used to have). The problem was this government came to the table unwilling to concede anything. Instead, they had a list of changes they wanted, but were unwilling to trade anything we wanted off. That’s how negotiating is supposed to work. As we see now, they were clearly just biding their time (wasting tax payer’s money, mind you), going through the motions of negotiating, all the while knowing eventually the education minister would introduce the legislation the way they wanted it.”

        The teachers are not asking for less workload expecting to get paid more as well. Bargaining involves bringing all your offers to the table and trading them off. It is considered a faux-pas and underhanded to add in more and more offers as the bargaining progresses. It is seen as delaying the process because something like that could just go on-and-on forever.

        From what I’ve heard and what the teachers seem to be saying, like Scott above, they would more than gladly not take a raise if the issues like class-size, etc were addressed and bargained on. Also, are you aware there have been Supreme Court decisions that have determined the gov’t has unconstitutionally stripped BC Teacher’s rights to bargain on things like class size, etc by creating two illegal Bills, 27 & 28? (http://www.revelstokecurrent.com/2011/04/19/bc-supreme-court-decision-on-bargaining-rights-hands-teachers-a-major-victory/) Are you also aware that the same gov’t has said they aren’t going to do anything about that decision until 2013? Have you ever heard of a person or organization being found guilty of something in a court of law being able to say “I don’t think I’ll allow you to fine me, jail me, or whatever and I won’t change what I’m doing for another year either, but thanks for letting me know I’m doing something illegal.”?? (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/bc-teachers-strike-window-shrinks-as-back-to-work-legislation-tabled/article2352419/print/)

        That should cause the people of BC a helluva lot more concern than the BCTF utilizing its right to put forth an offer of a wage increase as a genuine process of bargaining fairly. Educate yourself, my friend.

  260. Lyn Says:

    Cheryl,

    Your letter is well written and I sympathize with what you face in your classroom every day. However, I object to the comment you made near the end of your letter where you lumped collecting vaccine consent forms with “making lists of locker numbers and combinations, handing out photo orders, alphabetizing student information verification sheets, or counting the chairs in my room for inventory.” As one of the public health nurses that delivers this important and potentially life-saving vaccine program in schools, I am appalled by this comment. Delivering this program in the school settting is an effective way to reach the greatest number of students in the shortest amount of time, though it seems that we do spend a lot of time trying to ensure that every student whose parent would like them to be immunized does indeed get immunized. I understand your frustration and even despair around the lack of support from the government, but as a fellow professional who also wishes to be valued for the work i do, I would appreciate not being lumped in with the chair inventory. Thank you. Lyn Temple

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      Hi Lyn,

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. I sincerely apologize for giving you the impression I was belittling vaccinations. I am a strong supporter of the program and meant no disrespect to you or the program you run. I believe the program is essential, but I also believe the forms could just as easily be dropped directly off at the office where they can be sorted, and missing forms can be more efficiently tracked.

      Again, I apologize for the impression my wording created.

      Sincerely,

      Cheryl.

  261. Roberta Kirk Says:

    Wow……..great information and another eyeopener for me. This is my first year with a child in school, so i do not really know what it was like. But I do know that I have been pleased with things so far, in regards to the communication between me and the teacher. She always makes time to talk and discuss before or after school and via emails. And I have even got to hang out in the class and observe and of course help. As a stay at home Mom, the job action on Monday will not affect me, in fact i am looking forward to hanging out with my oldest. But I sure hope it gets the government to listen to you. Other than me and my husband, my sons teacher is the most important adult in his little world and I want her to be in an environment that she can teach properly in and that all the children get the attention the need and deserve. I am praying…God bless.

  262. Mister J Says:

    Great letter. I grew up and graduated in school district 43 and am sad to see the current state of affairs. To be honest, I remember the teachers taking job actions in my senior year back in ’02 and things haven’t been going their way since. I grew up wanting to be a teacher as good teachers in my school have inspired me to become a teacher as well, but the working conditions have put me off from teaching in BC. The fact of the matter is school cut backs not only harms the current pool of children, but also the future generation of would be teachers. I personally cannot think of a profession in which one has to go through a 4 year program at a University and an additional year, which can be consider to be a masters degree, with a starting salary of $36,000 and caps out after 11 years at $51,000 (if my memory serves me correctly). That is not to mention that most teachers have to substitute for roughly two years after graduation before they find a full time position at a school. Please continue to fight for the future of the children and teachers.

  263. Tammy Says:

    Hi Cheryl,
    I appreciate your comments here about our education system and agree that this is often the case right across our country. My concern and question for you is this. You have stated all the problems and difficulties in the class room but you have not stated what the teachers are fighting to get in their negotiations. Now, I no longer live in BC and honestly do not know what the issues you are fighting for are. I would like to know what you are trying to get in the bargaining process. Based on your blog I would assume you are fighting for more support staff in the classrooms, more text books and other learning materials, and better support for children with disabilities. If these are the top three things you are fighting for then I could support you but it often seems that the teacher’s union (not necessarily the teachers) is fighting for more money for the teachers be it in salary or benefits. However in a society with a limited amount of money to put towards education it would seem logical to me for the teachers to fight for what is best for their students. More money for the teachers does not translate into anything better for the students. More money for the teachers is not going to lower class sizes, help with disabilities or provide classroom supplies, or make someone a better teacher. The teacher’s union does not come across as sympathetic to the students any time I hear them on TV. I firmly believe that teachers have a tough job full of difficulties that really ought not to be there, but so do lots of other professions. We cannot fix things by asking for more money all the time, perhaps its time to be creative and change curriculum, class dynamics etc. Perhaps today’s students can no longer be taught in the traditional style. Maybe it is time to think outside the box. Aging schools and growing populations are forcing us to be realistic about the need for change from the traditional. I am sure you are a great teacher who truly cares but your union is not helping project the message that teachers care because I have yet to see anything from them that truly shows the union cares. Maybe its time to rethink unions, are they helping the teachers get what is most needed for the students or just the teachers. Again I am not trying to come down on you as a person but I just think that the union is not protecting the needs of the students when the students and classrooms have such HUGE needs but yet they are asking for more money for the teachers. Let’s fix the classroom issues first and then see if their is money for higher salaries. No amount of money given to the teachers as salary or benefits is going to make their job easier or the education system stronger for students. If you want us, as the public, to believe you have the students as your priority then I suggest you teach that to your union first!

  264. Cheryl –
    Brilliant! As an unemployed new teacher, I remember the conditions under which I spent my 2 practicums. They were frightening and motivating all the same. The children matter and teachers matter, you are so right. And the way in which the government legislates is appalling. Keep up the good fight! – - maybe once/if the government (and really, the parents who entrust their children to the school system) wake up and realize what the situation truly is, things will turn around.

  265. Gr. 12 Student Says:

    After reading your letter, I decided to write my own to my member of the legislative assembly.

    As a Gr. 12 student currently in the public education system in BC, I feel violated. Two of my classes have 35+ students, 5+ students in one of those classes have clear learning disabilities. All science based courses are purely theoretical because their is no money to pay for supplies. Instead one of my teachers gets second hand, often broken, equipment from universities on his own time. Textbooks are in terrible condition or quite outdated(1983 is how old one is). Computers in the lab or library are awfully outdated, Pentium 4′s from 2002 that can’t even handle modern websites. Trying to get help outside of a class is impossible as every teacher is already overworked and overwhelmed with students with learning disabilities. All of these factors and more prove that the education system is under-funded and overworked in BC. If I was a parent I wouldn’t put my children in BC’s public education system.

  266. Andy Says:

    Excellent arguments however, the teacher’s own TV commercials are commenting on money/salary. How will more money for you fix the valid issues you raise?

  267. Melissa Says:

    I realize your needs. I don’t want to downplay the hazards and difficulties of your working environment. I have had 4 children go through the education system in two provinces, and three different graduating schools.The youngest child is to graduate this June. There have been teachers who do teach well. They are passionate and love to teach. The result is a well educated child.

    What I find really disturbing, is the lack of teaching. The current school does not suffer over filled classrooms or any of the hazards you speak of. For that we are lucky. We live in a well populated urban area.

    I am so sick and tired of teachers throwing movies in front of my kids faces for Social Studies, and English class. The year my third born was in grade eleven he watched a total of 6-9 movies in full for these two classes. In lieu of actual teaching. I was appalled. My son came home week after week telling me about his movies. He did not even want to go to school because he could watch, and had watched the movies at home.

    He watched Shakespeare in Love for English. Full on nudity to boot. I had enough. I spoke to the principal and he backed up that learning concept,” We live in an age and day of media, saying children learn visually” .. I had and issue with how my child was learning and yet I came against a brick wall. I agree, the age we live in is vastly different than mine, but come on EVERY class? LAZY LAZY teaching, and they want a pay raise? There were no essays, there were no assignments , just movies.

    This year my youngest finally has a teacher who is actually teaching him English skills. Sentence structure. The meaning behind writing. She uses the Simpsons as an example of writing forms. I am not opposed to this style of teaching. She starts and stops the movie , explaining structure, and ideas and usage of language etc.

    MY son has learned ENGLISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They do not sit and watch and leave it at that. My son has learned to like English.

    I have lived in Alberta, and BC. My children have been educated in both provinces. There are vast differences in schools, class sizes, equipment etc. Alberta has state of the art smart boards in every class. Computers were top of the line. It did not matter. The level of education my son/daughter was receiving was poor. There are only a few teachers in all the communities we have lived in that I heard them talk about with reverence and respect in our home. They were the teachers willing to stand in front of the class, dish out some discipline, demand respect and teach. My kids actually preferred the teachers who would not stand any crap. My kids respected them for that.

    Those were the teachers my children learned from.
    While living in AB. my husband was doing construction in the teachers lounge, and he would come home with a list of complaints he had heard that day. Day after day. Now the school boards in the Catholic and non Catholic systems are wealthy compared to BC, and yet I find all of your complaints to be the same.

    I have a friend who has poor teaching conditions in Abbotsford. If all teachers were like her I would be paying attention to your grievances as union right now. Frankly with my experiences of four children going through the school system , I clearly do not blame the government for the lack of teaching my children received.

    I find it appalling that you want more wages. I show up for parent teacher interviews…..and the teacher is not there. I needed this interview as my son was failing his class. The teacher failed to show and nobody knew where he was………..

    • Mo Says:

      I think it is valid to give this opinion. When a professional is a member of a union in what is classified as an essential service the ability to look at their clients (our children) is lost. As parents we are better served by private schools as their teachers know the quality of education is what parents value and are willing to pay for.

      Perhaps the answer is that education is an essential service but the way it is currently taught is NOT. Children today should have a component of distance education as their future will require this. As an adult learner I do not have a teacher or mentor … I use a computer.

      We are still offering education to our children in the same way it was introduced during the industrial revolution. I vote for change. It is time.

      I would appreciate teachers and their employers working together for a solution that is innovative and sustainable. What we have now isn’t the model for the future.

    • Hailey Says:

      While I can’t speak for all teachers, I can speak for myself. I am an English teacher and regularly have classes of over 31 students each. Because we are semestered, I go 5 months with no prep-time at all. This means I am working with kids from 8:00 in the morning until 2:30 with 35 minutes for lunch. All my marking, prep, photocopying, reporting to parents etc. must be done on my own time. If I assign just 1 writing assignment per student per class, with an average marking/reading/assessing/commenting for feedback time of 5 minutes for each one, it adds up to 600 minutes per day That is 10 hours of work on top of my daily hours and not including prep for the next day. And I never give only 1 assignment per day let alone per week. As a secondary English teacher I do give quite a lot of essays and other writing assignments and I find it impossible to keep up with the marking load so occasionally I do put on the movie version of a novel or play. It helps the 7-10 designated kids (IEP or ESL) to actually understand the story and for the 10 who didn’t bother to read it or who were absent from class. It helps me have a little time during the day to work on the back log.

      From your comments, it seems that your children had a few ‘bad’ teachers in 2 different provinces. There are 41,000 teachers in this province alone. It seems unfair to condemn the entire body on the basis of the actions of a few.

      As for parent teacher interviews, I don’t get paid for that. I volunteer my time. I don’t see police officers volunteering to ride around in their patrol cars for an extra 3 hours twice a year just because. I always attend parent teacher interviews but sometimes the public forgets that teachers also have lives and commitments outside of the school. Teachers have no say as to when these events are scheduled. Sometimes the dates are the same for several schools within a district. Teachers are parents too and because of our inflexible work schedule it may the only time they can see their own child’s teacher. Believe it or not, we belong to teams, churches and organizations in the community and choose to attend those regularly scheduled events (some of which we have paid to belong to) rather than come back to work in the evening. On the the last parent teacher interview evening at my school, I visited with a total of 6 parents in 2 1/2 hours. The rest of the time I sat in the freezing gym doing my marking. Oddly enough, I don’t know if this was worth the effort.

      As for discipline in the classroom, we are no longer allowed to use any effective discipline or provide meaningful consequences. I am required to take assignments from students even after the semester/course has ended, mark them and revise their final grades. Deadlines mean nothing. I am not allowed to even dock marks for significantly late work. I can’t give marks for homework and I can’t give bonus marks for kids who actually do extra work or get their stuff in on time. I can’t keep students in after school because they are on the bus and parents do not want to have to make a special trip to pick up their kids. I can’t take phones away because parents want to be able to contact their kids at all times, and do, often during class time when I am teaching. I can’t even raise my voice or indicate my displeasure at certain inappropriate behaviours because it demonstrates disrespect for the student. When I do “stand in front of the class, dish out some discipline, demand respect and teach.”, I have been verbally attacked in person and via email by parents who don’t believe that their son or daughter “would ever do or say that” and so I am obviously just a big bully with a dictator complex.

      Teaching is not an easy job. It is pretty easy to criticize, belittle and humiliate someone when you have never done their job. Try walking a mile in my shoes before you start tossing the cheap shots.

      • Melissa Says:

        These were not cheap shots. I actually posted another post reguarding all of your concerns below. I wrote that before I just found your letter here. You see, I am not an unreasonable person dishing out cheap shots. You did choose your profession. You chose all those extra hours. If I choose a job, I take the good with the bad. You choose the extra hours during the year and get vacations when others are working. You can grade in front of the tv or at starbucks….whatever. I do know teachers and once they have curriculum they can reuse it year after year.

        A Dr. chooses his job and has to deal with unruly sick people. Smells, feces, getting amniotic fluid all over his suit, in a rushed delivery. Grief, poor hours etc. A farmer deals with weather, broken tractors, fluctuating seed prices, low return on his wares he sells.

        We owned a store , the time , the money the worry were all apart of that job. My husband works construction, he chose, freezing temperatures, dirt, conflicts with unreasonable trades all trying to complete a job. If they slacked the same way some teachers do , they would be fired. Simple as that. FIRED. If a farmer slacks on sowing his seed , he reaps what he does not sow.

        In general on a whole we have had more “bad” teachers than good. You say , I have belittled or humiliated you? I don’t know you, maybe if you were my kids teacher I would not have to because you do your job. You do what you signed up for. I am talking about the vast majority of teachers I have experienced who DO NOT do their job.

        When you play movies and don’t even crack open a text book, you have nothing to grade or mark. When you yell/belittle at my daughter and her classmates because the issue is your own and not the students, or you keep the whole class 15min after class EVERDAY because you can, you say you have not done teaching and slam the door on all the parents face…I have a problem. When a parent goes to the principal reasonably for any complaint and is left with no recourse or action…what is a parent to do?

        You may not be any of these teachers , but they are out there. If you do a good job, then I say well done! I wish you were my child’s teacher. But don’t forget, this is what you signed up for. This is what you wanted to do. This is what you paid all your tuition for. Don’t tell me you didn’t know you were going to put in extra hours of your free time. It is common knowledge. YOU chose your job.

      • Melissa Says:

        oh and the usual construction worker starts at 6-7 am in the morning and works to 4 or 5 in the afternoon…..with 2 15 min coffee breaks and 30 min for lunch….the rest is all hard labour.

  268. Katharine Says:

    Thanks for a great post! It’s interesting to see how many folks obsess about our salary (certainly more than I do) while ignoring the bigger issues of democracy and education for all. The system has been underfunded for 10 years and is at the breaking point. Run it into the ground and then you can justify privatizing the whole thing. We have 600 million dollars for a new stadium roof, but not for quality education for our children – my step-daughters have no school library program and are lucky that we take them to the public library and talk about information spin and how to research effectively- most children do not have parents with the time/inclination/ability to do such things. Without a school library program, classroom teachers can only do so much. There are more children with serious issues then when I was in school 20 years ago due to increasing poverty. A warning to all of those who think we are overpaid – you get what you pay for. On a democratic note, our freedom of speech has been taken away – yours won’t be far behind. But I guess that many people are more interested in the “Housewives of Vancouver” (no doubt earning twice as much as any schoolteacher proving what public service exaclty?) than thinking hard and critically about what is at stake. I have to give the governments and corporations an A+ for their success in denigrating the public education system and those that work within it. All of you teacher bashers have learned their message well and like characters out of an Orwell novel repeat it faithfully.

    • Andy Says:

      Not bashing teachers – just making a distinction between funding a teacher via a salary increase versus funding our educational system. I would take the concerns of teachers much more seriously if their arguments didn’t always seem to come down to their own pay. Is their priority their own bank accounts of the welfare of the system they have chosen to work within?

      It’s not like they were ingnorant of what a teacher’s salary would be when they chose this profession…

  269. Edward Lake Says:

    Well said. Good luck. As a friend of mine recently said. there a lot more people behind you than the government and the media would lead you to believe.

  270. Gayle Braley Says:

    I love the birthday party analogy. I teach in a semestered highschool, so imagine four birthday parties a day. Two of which have have a provincial exam at the end that may or may not be used against me to see how well my series of ‘parties’ went.
    Now in my case for this very semester each of my classes was full PLUS the allowed ‘flex factor’ of 2. That means 4 classes of 32. I play this game daily with 128 students, and in my non-prep semester, zero time during the school day to plan or mark. I have not yet begun to talk about ‘identified’ kids with learning disabilities, or behavioural issues, or mental illness, or even simple illnesses that take kids out of school temporarily that will later need to be caught up.
    Imaging that birthday party and all you planned for it, now imagine three kids couldn’t make it because they were sick, and three kids missed it because they slept in, and two kids missed it because they just didn’t want to go, and two kids missed it because they were on holidays with their parents, and two kids missed it because they were attending a sports event… and now you have to provide the same party experience to those twelve kids whenever they come back to class, in the middle of your current party. How can one teacher possibly keep track of the progress of 128 individual needs at a time? Realistically, we are doing it, but it makes me sad to think of how much better we could be doing given different conditions, and how much more our students would get our of their education.

  271. shannymoore Says:

    Wow. This in an incredible letter. I am speechless. I can’t believe what is going on in the classrooms, and what teachers have to deal with everyday in your already very difficult job! I have a 1 and a 2 year old daughter, and they are such a handful, i can’t imagine having 30 children all day every day, let alone with all the over challenges you, and all teachers face. And how the government can overlook that fact, i have no idea! Stay strong, it’s people like you who speak out with wisdom, facts, and experience who should be listened to to!!!

  272. Michael Says:

    You should post this on your Google+ page.

  273. Melissa Says:

    I just wanted to add that I never viewed the education system as a babysitting club. We were attending a small school in our community. A teacher who had the nick name of GI JOE for her over the top , disrespectful teaching methods, was teaching my daughter’s grade 4 class. ( There was a general consensus with the parents that her methods were unjust.) I went to the principal to discuss the problem. His words to my husband and I were shocking. His quote was. ” I am new here, she has been here for the last 15 years and I can’t do anything about her methods”

    I did not want my daughter( who was crying and depressed) subject to her tongue lashing abuse daily so we took her home and did homeschooling until we found a private Catholic School that was wonderful.

    As you can see, I have been in and out of the public, and private school system as well as homeschooling. All we wanted was a fair, good quality education for our kids.
    I have found that when a school has a fair decent principal, who , is not dictated by his teachers, the school, the teachers and students are happy, and learning.

    We moved for work constantly. My children have been in a total of 11 different schools, 5 different school districts, and 2 provinces. I have been a stay at home mother, and homeschool mother for a total of 7 years. My observations are made from a vast array of different experiences. I have good kids they have never been in trouble and are well adjusted.

  274. Lisa Says:

    Excellent letter!

  275. lauralyzer Says:

    Thank you for writing this. You DO matter and as a parent, I am grateful for teachers like you. It’s madness to me that no one stands up for students except teachers – and then teachers are vilified for doing so. God bless you and your students.

  276. Your comments (complaints) about the classroom problems: broken blinds, broken furnace, ceiling tiles that are falling down, leaky roof, etc. should go the Maintenance Department in your school district. I’m sure we all had chipped desks when we were students, and we survived.

  277. kim Dicken Says:

    As a parent with special needs I take huge exception to your false accusations that job action does not hurt the children. My daughter needs to go to school, she is behind her peers and every minute she is out of her class she is falling further and further behind. As a parent I have done everything I can to help, I put a mortgage on my house last year to privately pay for her assessment, I pay weekly for a private tutor ( I am a single mother who works part time) and because of the strike her IEP meeting was delayed until the middle of January. No report cards – No IEP meeting – the tutor was in the dark from Sept – January. Thanks teachers!!! This strike is such a benefit to my daughter! You talk about the horrible working conditions of your school- lack of supplies ect. Well if that is the shape of the funding – why do you expect a 15% wage increase?????? I work contract as well non-union, when I am sick and don’t go to work – I don’t get paid, when I take a 10 day holiday (not 4 months) – guess what I don’t get paid. When my Grandmother passed away(who I was extremely close too) I took one day off, as again I cant afford it. It must be nice to demand of your employer that if your neighbor passed away to get 2 weeks paid off. Nice. Also this issue about teachers being investigated if they have a bad review, I say GREAT!!! This is my children that you are in contact with, if there is a problem I want it dealt with. From personal experience from 1980′s there was complaints about a certain highschool teacher being inappropriate with female students – parents complained mine included with my older sisters and then me, union stepped in nothing done – flash forward to 2000′s when he was finally suspended for locking himself and a grade 8 girl in a bathroom, feeding her liquor and making sexual advances. Thanks again teachers Union. I am not saying all teachers are bad, I have come across wonderful teachers who actually care about the kids, but they are being silenced by the the radical political group who are using MY children as pawns in a labour dispute for their own benefit. You can not argue that children are not used as pawns – when even your union sent it’s political view via letter that was handed to my 5 year old and 7 year old and they were told to take it home and make sure that their parents read it. NICE!!!! Glad my children could keep the teachers unions overhead cost down. If the Government would have done that – wow the teachers would have freaked out. My final question to you which a coworker asked a group of us at work – Do you think if the govt. gave the teachers a raise, and the benefits package they are asking for – do you really think the issue of funding for special needs kids would all of sudden be pushed under the rug? Do you think the strike would be over and that would be the end of it? If your answer is no – it would not be dropped- then why don’t you put your money where you mouth is – propose to the Govt to take the money that a 15% pay increase would be for the teachers and put it directly to funding the special needs, school upgrades, hiring new teachers and Keeping class sizes down, Since this strike is about the KIDS right- Not Money. Again just like to thank the union for all their help in damaging my daughters progress in school. SO GLAD YOU HAVE THE CHILDREN WELL BEING IN MIND FOR THIS STRIKE. GOD HELP US IF YOU DIDN’T.

    • Hailey Says:

      I am sorry that you have had such a bad time with your daughter in a BC school. It is interesting that you blame teachers for having to pay for an assessment that should be free (paid for by the school district) but because of government cutbacks that is you footed the bill. I am also sorry that your child’s IEP meeting was delayed. The government has cutback funding for special needs students and for the staff who’s job it is to provide appropriate testing and write IEP’s. So now it is not uncommon for students to wait up to a year to be seen by a district psychologist and be tested. Teachers definitely refused to write the IEPs or hold the meetings on their own personal time. You say if you don’t go to work you don’t get paid. Then why is it OK for teachers to work overtime and not get paid for that? As for no report cards, SHAME ON YOU! Why haven’t you looked at your child’s work and/or discussed it with them? Have you not seen the marks and comments on the work? If your concern is legitimate, why have you not emailed the teacher in question or better yet gone in to see them? Surely a piece of paper 3 times a year is not comparable to your active involvement.

      Yes, yes, everyone had a bad teacher in the 1980′s. Everyone has probably had at least one. I have had bad dentists, bad doctors, and bad everything. It is nice that you condemn an entire professional body based on the actions of 1 person 30 years ago. Interestingly enough, there was no teachers’ union in the 1980s. Investigations at that time were handled by the College which was the government’s responsibility. If you really want to do some good in this area why don’t you go after the bad politicians that taxpayers have had to pay the legal bills for or the cops having sex in their patrol cars.

      Sending letters home via kids. Wow. It’s not like that has happened before. As a matter of fact the government did do this only it was in the form of the letters sent home with students from the superintendent.

      Yes, I do deserve a raise. The cost of living is going up by 3% every year. I have to buy gas and pay car insurance too. As for benefits packages, that bereavement leave you speak of was simply one item on a list designed to be negotiated in good faith but probably would never have been actually forwarded. But because this government has decided not to negotiate, all of the BCTF proposal mean nothing. I don’t get 4 months of paid vacation. I get 3 weeks of paid vacation and no vacation pay. I work a 10 month salaried job and if I don’t save money for July and August then I don’t have any money. Period.

      The current job action was designed to impact students as little as possible. The government and the LRB have now made it so that students are the only ones being impacted. If you think that teachers don’t care for students and are not trying t improve learning conditions then you just wait and see how well your child does in a class of 40 with unlimited special needs kids in it. If you think your child is not being served now, you have another think coming.

      • kim Dicken Says:

        Shame on you for implying I have not been in contact with my daughters teacher – in fact I speak to her at least weekly!!! Again because someone does not agree with your position you personally attack. I am not blaming the school for paying for the assessment – it was my choice I did not want to wait for a year for a free assessment – I wanted to find out what was going on and how I could help my daughter immediately. My point is I have called your union and asked how is this strike helping my child? I have 2 children in the school system – one is excelling in class – the strike for her no issue missing 3 days of school. My other daughter 3 days is a HUGE deal, and just so you know – I will not be letting her sit at home doing nothing – just as I practice reading, numbers, sight words with her every night- I have signed her up for a math website- so how is kids with special needs missing school helping them. That is what I want to know? And with regards to the IEP meeting – do you know me personally – do you know that it took 4 calls to the school, 3 discussions with the teacher and finally getting in touch with your union to get the meeting held. Do you know if I took time of my work – not being paid to make the meeting. Do you know my ex husband drove down from 108 mile ranch (5 hours) – took time of work to be there so it fit into the strike regulations. Maybe you should practice what you preach, do not cast all parents as not caring, just as you dont want all teachers to be cast as bad. I had my child assessed while she was in kindergarten – Thanks to a wonderful teacher who was and continues to be my support, my daughter is receiving help. Would I like more, of course, but how is walking out and taking my child’s right to education helping her? Please someone answer that. AGAIN not all teachers are bad, you get the good and the bad in all professions, but when my children are being used in a labor dispute it annoys me. Also about working overtime- I used to work in a accounting firm – for 3 months it was mandatory overtime which you are not paid for, but you were told that when you took the job. At my current job – I never take a lunch I eat at my desk – I stay late and dont bill, work from home – this is my choice to get my work done that is what I need to do. Everyone has a choice. I am not saying teaching is not a hard job, I would not and could not do it, Kudos to all good teachers, but when my child is being effected and used in a labour dispute it makes me very emotional. I was in tears the other day when the strike was announced. And one more comment as I am still pissed off that you accused me of being a bad parent – yesterday after school I spoke to my daughters teacher about work for the strike days. By the way both my daughters are lucky this year to have excellent teachers.

      • kim Dicken Says:

        Do you get paid for professional days? Still have not answered the question – how is not letting my child go to school helping her? Maybe I would support this job action if someone could explain your logic?

      • OBgirl Says:

        <>

        If the overtime that you are referring to is all the ‘prep’ and ‘marking’ time, then that should not be counted anymore than I should be able to charge for the two hours of laundry to wash my work uniform (at home), hours of memorizing hundreds of PLU codes (at home on my own time) and so forth as a cashier. Can I strike at my job and expect to keep it? Not on your life! Guess what? I didn’t have a desk to sit down at. I didn’t even have a lunch break. I got ten minutes and that was it. No benefits AT ALL and I made around $6-$7 takehome and I had two sick days for an entire year.

        You’re probably going to say (or think) that “That’s exactly why teachers spend years at university!” and indeed I applaud and respect them (and everyone) who does that. But that doesn’t make it fair to essentially imply that anyone who doesn’t do that doesn’t deserve even close to a living wage. Not everyone can go to college to get a better wage. Some people are stuck for periods of time at minimum wage and you don’t see all of us striking, do you?

        Some people need to remember that just because you *can*, doesn’t mean you *should*. Sometimes you should just be quietly grateful for what you have and remind yourself that there’s people who have it a LOT worse than you. We’re in the middle of a recession and there are thousands without any job and thousands more who’ve been struggling for years at a minimum wage that hasn’t gone up even though the cost of living has skyrocketed during the time when teachers were getting more and more ‘benefits’ and wage increases.

        <>

        There’s almost no work coming home. Thus far this year I’ve received home several spelling tests in the last month and that is essentially it. There’s no comment on anything, even if there are wrong answers and half the time they’re not even corrected. Heck, there isn’t even an x beside them. So screaming at parents that they need to check comments on work coming home doesn’t exactly work if nothing is coming home but doodle drawings and crafts and the occasional spelling test with a few tick-marks and that’s it. I’m involved with my teacher but just saying.

  278. Mr. C (EA) Says:

    This letter about education in B.C. should be mandatory reading for all who are caught up in the continuing decline of our educational system.This includes the government, parents, educators and anyone who has a concern about our future. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article and thank you for putting into words the thoughts of so many.

  279. Nanct Gleeson Says:

    You hit it ALL right on! Thanks for taking the time to write it all so eloquently!
    Nancy Gleeson. TL Langley SD#35

  280. My daughter’s not old enough for school, yet, but she will be, in a year and a half. My husband and I have accepted that she will not get a complete education in the public school system, a system which has been systematically gutted for the past 40 years. Accepted as a reality of life, but we’re angry about it. We’re angry about MLA’s getting raises and BC Place getting a new roof and the Olympics. We’re angry about crumbling schools and exhausted, over-worked teachers. We’re relieved that our child is neither delayed nor a genius, because we know the school system couldn’t handle it if she was.

    We’re not considering home schooling, in the fact of this. Why? Because we’re not qualified to teach our daughter. We’re not teachers. That’s your job. And you worked hard for the credentials to do it, and you can give her things we can’t. Like an education. But only if you have what you need to do your job.

    This shouldn’t even be an issue. You shouldn’t have to fight for the right to fight for your rights. It’s absurd. It’s yet another appalling waste of time and resources which have already been diminished too much.

    I know the reality. I know that you go home after a long day of negotiating, resolving conflicts, performing, shifting mental focus, inspiring, threatening, joking, pleading and pushing, and come home to a long evening of grading, prepping and writing. I know that you spend half of your “two months off” preparing for the next school year. I know that you are charged with overcoming a mountain of obstacles you did not create, from insufficient materials to your students’ lack of nutrition, bullying in the school yard, bullying at home, sick days, family vacations, interpersonal dramas and parents’ divorce. I know that you struggle, every day, to keep your eye on the bigger picture; to not get bogged down in the day-to-day frustrations and grind, and remember the incredibly important and life-shaping job you have. It’s easy to lose track of, especially when you feel like no one else recognizes it.

    Well, I do. My daughter is three and a half. She takes dance lessons and swimming lessons. It’s actually less important to me that she learn how to dance and swim than it is that she learn to listen to and respect her teachers. That’s why she’s taking those classes. So that, when she goes to school, she knows that her teacher is someone who is there to help her, someone on her side, and someone deserving her respect and attention.

    You deserve our respect and attention, too.

  281. Brenda Says:

    Great letter Cheryl
    Unfortunately, I have to admit that I am one of those parents who was siding with the government. I did not realize all the other issues that the teachers are fighting for (thanks to your letter) and really only heard about the ridiculous demands like a 15% wage increase. I feel that your union representatives have unfortunately done a dis-service to all the good teacher out there like yourself. Right now we are in a recession and I know of at least 10 or more adults/parents who no longer have jobs. When I heard some of your demands I did find it hard to sympathize with you. I thought my son was one of those students who really did not need a lot of attention so he was always put into class rooms that were maxed out with special needs children. Or was put into classrooms with teachers who lack the experience, knowledge, or compassion due to seniority, (which I don’t agree with) so I have basically taught my son grades 4,5,6 and 7. These teachers have taken these positions due to increase in wage, closer to home, etc. not because they are qualified. An example of this is there is a teacher teaching grade 8 French who has had no training and has never taught French before. Another example of this is my son’s grade 4 and 5 teacher (which was the same teacher) unfortunately had family issues so my son would have a different substitute teacher at least 3 times a week for 2 years. When this teacher was there you could tell her mind was somewhere else and because of this we had to hire a tutor during the summer to get my son caught up. You could imagine how this made me feel for teachers. I realize that with anything there are good ones and bad ones and unfortunately we have had our run of teachers that I would never recommend. Thankfully, this year he has a great set of teachers for grade 8. My son is enjoying learning again and this is due to good teachers who care. I am not a great supporter of unions as I feel they allow the bad teachers to have a free ride. Unions also allow bad teachers to not be accountable for their actions. As you can see by my letter I am not the best of writers but felt it was important for me to have my say. I am just a mom who wants my child to get the best education that is promised to him and I feel that the system has let him down. I just do not know how to support a union who supports bad teachers and allows them to keep on teaching. Those are the teachers who I have a hard time supporting not teachers like you. I do not want to offend anyone but only wanted to make people see another side of this difficult situation. I think the government, teachers union, teachers and parents are all letting down our children and am really scared for our children and their future. So as you can see, the dilemma for me is how do I support the great teachers out there without supporting the ones who have let my son down for half of schooling years.
    PS During those 4 years of difficulties we tried to work with the teachers, principal and supporting staff and it was apparent from the beginning that there was only so much they could do. That is why we took it upon ourselves to find help through tutoring. Thankfully, we could afford this. FYI, there were other children in these same classrooms who’s parents could not afford tutoring and now these students are barely passing. It makes me so sad!!!!

  282. Sarah Says:

    Please send this in to the newspapers! I’m sure the Tyee will reprint it, but also please send to the Georgia Straight, Sun & Province so it can get a wider audience. Perhaps you should also be a part of the negotiating team – you might be able to get the government to understand the teachers’ position.

  283. [...] http://cherylangst.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/teaching-in-bc-3/#comment-1016 This entry was posted in News by Ryan Brown. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  284. As a mom who is putting her kid in Kindergarten in Sept, I am now significantly freaked out as to what my son will face. Yes, like in any profession there are good and bad employees and I know that there is a chance he will get a not-so-good one every once in a while. But you know what, that happens in private too and I come from one of those fancy Vancouver private schools. We had some of the best and some not so great. But let me tell you, I won’t sit idly by and let my son be in a classroom that is falling apart, doesn’t have enough text books, or Ants. I will fundraise the crap out of that school. I will figure out any way I can to help that school get what they need.

    Is that even allowed? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question.

    I don’t have a strong political opinion. I am not aware of the issues though I am trying to educate myself. I am a passionate parent, a mama who will go to the moon and back to make sure my son has the best education possible. Until we live in a perfect world, where education is valued above all else, where school have endless funds and every imaginable tool available to them, we the parents have to be involved and make time to do more. My husband and I both gave up our corporate jobs to work from home so we could be more involved. It has meant less money, selling a car and giving up fancy vacations and I know that is not realistic for the majority, but it will give me the time to do more. So teachers, I may not always agree with what is happening, and I may not always like what you do, but I will support you in educating my child no matter what. You can expect to see me asking questions, seeking out how I can help, asking to volunteer in areas you need assistance and looking for constant feedback on my son. I will be slightly annoying but energetic and willing to lend a hand. I hope other parents will join me.

    • Rob Says:

      Fundraising and participation by the parents play a large role. There is a reason why schools in well to do neighborhoods may have the new playground, multi-day class trips, score higher on tests, etc. You have the right idea. Good luck with your little one. It’s not all horror stories.

  285. kevin barker Says:

    I think what you`re trying to say is we should join hands and put our kids first, yeah? Well let’s do that, in spite of the government, which is not on our side, will not help, and in fact will actively undermine us. People, the government is not on your side. It doesn’t care about education, or your kids, or you. It just doesn’t. And moreover, B.C. is redneck … it’s a land of dueling banjos, and Deliverance and “howrayadointuhdayvern?”. Government’s idea of a good teacher is one who isn’t afraid to give the strap, does not deviate creatively or otherwise from the learning standards that a bunch of ill educated school marms developed back in ’08, and does physical labour in the summer, just to convince the rest of us they’re not a bunch of pansies. On, and shut up and babysit. That’s been B.C. for as long as I’ve been alive. We just have to do it ourselves.

  286. Melissa Says:

    Kim

    Well said. Like I said in my post above the teachers in AB have state of the art buildings, equipment…etc. you know what? They complain as much as the BC teachers. I think the teachers as a whole have a tendency towards feeling entitled.

    You know who suffers? The kids. They are dealt a random bunch of teachers each year. Good teachers and principals get shuffled each year. As a grand total my kids have spent a total of 41 years in the classroom. That is minus the years my children spent getting an education at home. I can count on my right hand the teachers that have actually given my kids a good education. If you can understand out of those 41 years I found a general malaise towards education from these teachers. I am all for giving credit where credit is due. And some teachers rise above the rest. But not on the whole.

    It is about wages. Your right, put the 15% back to the kids etc. The teachers complain about harsh conditions. What about teachers of the past? Cold classrooms, multiple grade levels in the classroom. Kids leaving early to work on the farm. Kids not coming due to harvest. Sickness. Lack of teaching tools. You want to complain? I am sure the teacher of the 20′-30′s on the prairie would tell you all you have it made in the shade. That is apart of your job.

    My husband works in harsh conditions everyday. Day in day out. He puts up with ridicule, foul language,and mismanagement. Other trades who bully over his work daily to get their job done . There is a constant jostling for position and equipment to get the job done. He gets physically hurt daily. He is exhausted at the end of everyday. THAT IS WHY IT IS CALLED WORK.

    He can’t go demand pay raises when the job gets difficult. Difficulty is apart of life. Struggles, adversity, frustration and hardships are apart of every job.

    The only thing I feel sorry about on behalf of the teachers, is having non-english speaking children in the classroom. They should be filtered to a room to learn the language then filtered back into general population.

    On behalf of parents, I think parents have dropped the ball on discipline, requiring respect and valuing elders. Parents need to teach the children to learn, listen, shut up, and value the teacher. No matter what my personal viewpoint is, I expect when my child is in the classroom, he is to talk with respect and do what the teacher requires. I expect it at home, at school and on the job. It is my job as a parent to teach these values to my children, not the teacher.

    You can blame a lot on the teacher. You cannot blame that behaviour on them. Period.

    I believe the school/ legislation should allow for strict discipline in the schools. A teacher should not be worried about his job and having to back up and record every move, or discipline measure he hands out. He should be held accountable, but , he should not be held hostage to poor behaviour in the classroom.

    • Melanie Says:

      “My husband works in harsh conditions everyday. Day in day out. He puts up with ridicule, foul language,and mismanagement. Other trades who bully over his work daily to get their job done . There is a constant jostling for position and equipment to get the job done. He gets physically hurt daily. He is exhausted at the end of everyday. THAT IS WHY IT IS CALLED WORK”….Question: if your husband worked for years trying to improve his working conditions and situation only to have the government step in and strip him of his rights to make his conditions, and the conditions of his co-workers better, would you deny him this? Unions and the right to strike were created to protect hard working people like your husband. Please don’t blame a profession who has rallied together to say “NO” to conditions such as those you wrote above, to then be looked down on and punished for it. I am sorry that you haven’t had good experiences with teachers, but I simply do not see the volume of ill-willed teachers that you describe. Teachers would never make it in the day to day, nor would they want to, if they didn’t feel strongly about their students and their role in educating young people with the best of intentions. You’ll have to trust me that it just would not happen. Until you’ve actually walked in a teacher’s shoes, it would be really hard to for you to understand. The teacher, who wrote this letter is representative of the majority of teachers I know – passionate, frustrated, exhausted.

      • Melissa Says:

        My husband has worked for the union in his trade for years. it was not what it was all cracked up to be…and maybe you should have a few shitty teachers and know what it feels like to have no power in what your child learns. That is one of the many reasons homeschooling was so appealing. When your kid comes home wishing the teacher would teach…it says something really loud and clear. Parents are not heard, when the teacher is not doing his job, and yet you want us to all listen to your demands.

      • Melissa Says:

        At minimum with 4 kids in the shcool system minus the homeschooling years I think it added up to 41 years total. do you not think during that time I am not going to run into some ill willed lazy teachers? There is a high probability with that amount of time spent in school I am going to run into my fair share of lame teachers. They are out there and what I have found it the principals, and teachers cover for each other.

  287. Heather Says:

    Your letter is very convincing and I completely agree with the birthday party analogy. I have just started in the public school system this year as my oldest started kindergarten. It is also the first year that I planned a birthday party in our home with my son’s friends. Wow! I help in the classroom at least once a month and I generally feel like I might have a stroke after less than one hour of trying to get only 6 of the kindgarten boys to finish the assigned work in the time alotted. Now I have always known that I was not cut out for teaching at any level but I really had no idea the mental patience and focus to keep up with each student. For that I certainly applaud all you do.

    I find it unfair that so many government officials see a yearly raise and generous benefits, and bonuses and other members of public service are not given these considerations. I don’t think that because you have 2 months off every year that you should have to work that much harder during the hours you do work. I feel that people who argue that point are jealous and have likely not spent one minute in a classroom teaching. Not to mention you likely are not receiving a paycheck during those two months I assume.

    Our children’s education the price paid for poor learning environments and poor teaching methods. As we have experienced in our own lives not every teacher is as dedicated as the next and every student will not have exceptional teaching every year. We are humans and all different. Not every doctor is compassionate, not every receptionist is pleasant, not every car salesman is honest. These are not comparisons to your job but an example of how every career possible offers every spectrum of human ability. Now usually those exceptional career people are working in an environment that is supportive, offers fair wages including raises, and offers open communication with management for change.

    I do feel like I don’t have all the information in this debate however and don’t feel I am going to get a nonpartisan answer from a teacher or from a website. So for an average parent is can be difficult to put energy toward learning the real issues.

    Our governments need to be held responsible for inadequate school environments, especially if the buildings are not offering a comfortable learning environment. Certainly, insect free, windows that work and heating and cooling systems that function properly are a bare minimum. Homeschooling is not an option for everyone, whether you are a stay at home parent or not, and private school is financially impossible for the majority. We depend on the public school system to provide a safe place for our children to learn. This is not daycare. If our children do not receive the tools and instruction to succeed, which I strsongly believe does not stop at the school doors, but MUST continue in the home, then our children will be adults that can compete in a global market. If we fail the children now they will be unable to uphold our great nation in coming generations.

    It really is a 3 way fight it seems of parents, teachers and government. And budgets are always at the core. Parents don’t want to pay more taxes, teachers need more resources and governments don’t want to listen to either and want to keep the money for themselves. An ugly battle with our children’s education as the pawn and for I am sad.

    Good luck in your pursuit of justice on this issue.
    Heather

  288. Dave Says:

    Thanks for your insights. With a legislated zero, the whole argument about wage increase might as well be shifted to the background. I’m a 34 year retired teacher veteran that is very proud that the younger members of the BCTF are willing to make sacrifices next week (three days pay) in an attempt to stand up for kids. This follows a tradition of committed teachers who years ago did the same only to see the government illegally strip class size and composition provisions.I didn’t recover lost pay,nor the pension days lost through multiple job actions. However, I can honestly say that I can live with myself having stood up to the bullying tactics of both insensitive administration and provincial governments over the years. Teachers need to rally together to boost their collective morale as , heaven knows, there are far too many out there that are intent on destruction.More importantly, parents need to gain insight into the lived experience of the classroom to appreciate the real worth of the teaching contribution toward the fulfillment of their greatest possession – their children. I can only hope that more teachers similarly craft written histories as a more accurate portrayal of the real world of teaching to counteract the propagandist myths of limited hours and questionable commitment. Finally I would like to counter the oft expressed insult to teachers approaching retirement characterized as worn out or lacking enthusiasm. On the contrary, I believe that the government has clearly missed the opportunity to have some of these “elders” mentor the young and beginning teachers, to share their expertise, and to model a caring and compassionate manner. A sense of self-purpose that has helped them survive a career of dealing with resource shortages, administrivia demands and misguided provincial mandates on standardized testing and hollow promises about individualizing learning.

  289. Lisa Says:

    Well said! I love your use of the word “triage”. I’m there this year. I feel bad that I ca’tn fix every problem my students have and I’m unable to give all my students equal attention.

  290. talktowolf Says:

    I live in Ontario.
    I’m not a teacher.
    I’m turning 65 soon. Semi-retired business executive. My 3 children are grown and no longer at home. I have two grandchildren. My oldest child has been supply teaching for two years waiting for an opening.

    Cheryl’s opening post is heart warming and I can certainly relate. Some things have not changed. In fact, a lot has deteriorated since my 3 were in school. Lack of resources, class sizes, crumbling buildings and so on. It’s all terrible.

    What hasn’t happened on this blog is a discussion of why all of this has been happening in our school systems for the last 40 years. Nor has there been much discussion on how to turn this around. Oh sure, lots has been said about salaries, policies, regulations and other things. However, you need to go back and examine some of the core principles of how our governments have moved Canadian society to where it is today. And it’s not all that wonderful for a lot of Canadian professionals, including teachers.

    Our governments have lost sight of their PURPOSE for being. Our elected officials now work for large corporations (the one percent) and not for the rest of us. We’ve allowed them to forget about us because we don’t hold them accountable … except during elections. But even then, we don’t hold them accountable to PURPOSE or principles that drive PURPOSE. Governments work to protect and enhance the lives of corporations and the one percent. The middle class has all but disappeared.

    Before you start asking your elected officials to change policies, Canadians need to have a discussion about principles and what is the singular reason why we have Governments…. that’s what PURPOSE is about. We must demand that governments reason for being is to protect and enhance the lives of Canadians. Not just select groups, like corporations. Canadians need to have this discussion first. Only then can you begin to examine what processes and policies are needed to support that PURPOSE.

    Lastly, we need to demand that our governments set up measurements for every dollar that they spend. Policies that work, should continue to be funded and receive increased funding. In some jurisdictions the people managing funds are already learning the value of measurement. Policies that don’t work, should be discontinued.

    In summary, Canadians need to begin to discuss PURPOSE. Once that has been clearly articulated, understood and agreed upon can you move on to PROCESS, policies and what’s needed to support that purpose. Then set up MEASUREMENTS.

    PURPOSE –> PROCESS — MEASUREMENT should be ongoing. If we don’t demand this discussion, things will not change. Frustrations will remain high.

    • Debbie Says:

      Very well said!

    • Rob Says:

      Too true. Unfortunately, we’ve been brainwashed since a young age by the corporatocracy through govnt, media and even school. Consider why there is a love affair with owning expensive real estate prices and luxury items. Two incomes, maxed out credit … no time for the kids …. our children need to be educated at home, not just at school.

  291. As a former student that walked out in protest over 12-15 years ago in support of the teachers, I think both parties have yet to grow up and neither side is putting students best interests first. I don’t mean teachers aren’t, but the union isn’t. The government isn’t. Students are caught in a fight that involves their future. Due to bullying, lack of teacher support, and the inability to follow my passions, I suffer today from wanting to follow my passions because I’m afraid of failure and fear. It’s something I personally battle, but I also suffer from over-thinking. Put all that together and one can imagine. In Grade 8 I was privileged to be introduced to an amazing and unique teacher that was teaching 1st year university philosophy. Now sure, for a couple of months I cried in disbelief and uncertainty of what I was reading back then. But at the end of the year, he was my favourite teacher and it was my favourite class. I received 96% in the class. Fortunately, I was able to take the course in Gr. 9 as an honours course where again my thinking and understanding flourished. I was in love with the course. Sadly, due to public school politics (I’m convinced of this) he left and took the one course I loved elsewhere.

    I had the opportunity to follow him to the IB program at Semiahmoo Secondary. Sadly, as a young kid, I didn’t have the strength to leave my friends and the few people I knew that I could trust at the time. Unfortunately, it also left me in the same situation of being bullied and picked on. I had numerous school supplies stolen from me and teachers would never support my word. It was always their word vs. my word. I just gave up after awhile because it wasn’t worth fighting if I was just going to lose. Years before all this, in Grade 5, my teacher left the room and a student grabbed a window opener and slammed me in the corner with the rod up against my neck for simply touching his hat.

    The point is, the education system has been failing for years in the public schools. When I do become a parent, I have major reservations putting my kids in the public school system based on what I went through. Right now, I have no faith or trust in it for numerous reasons. If I was the mediator between the government and union, I’d sit the two of them in the room and force them to watch two videos:

    1. Ken Robinson on schools killing creativity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY
    2. Ken Robinson on changing the education paradigm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

    I was set up to fail, no matter how well I succeeded in my grades. Grades mean nothing. I may be very intelligent and have strong insights in my profession, but personally and professionally, I struggle on a daily basis to overcome things in my life that I was set up to fail in no matter what I did in school. I was the socially outgoing and friendly person that everyone loved to identify as “the one” to bully. It happens everywhere, everyday. This new CBA needs to address that and it needs to address a major paradigm shift in education. I’m proud of those kids for walking out today and having the courage to stand up and share their message.

  292. Not to mention, my mom is also an SEA. I could go into more of that as well, but I don’t have all day to write. Education needs to change. It’s that simple!

  293. Tara Dong Says:

    Well said indeed! Hope it gets read, but if not pleased to see it’s spreading like wildfire by social media!

  294. Shannon Says:

    This is a well written letter, and it makes me very upset to see the conditions of the classroom you teach in. My two children are currently in an elementary school that is slated for very last place to get seismic upgrades, even though it is 3 stories tall and one of the oldest in the district. If we have a major earthquake between now and when it gets upgraded there is a chance my children would not survive.
    I agree that everything mentioned in your letter should be fixed – from the heat to the number of special needs students. What I have a problem with is the BCTF’s list of demands that does not address anything that you mention here. If the teachers get every single demand met your students will still have ants falling on them. They will still be cold, and they will still have not enough science books. How does the demands from the BCTF help the kids? I saw on the list, among others, 5 yrs of maternity leave and 26 weeks of care for a sick family member.
    I would fully support the teacher’s strike if they ripped up their current list of demands and wrote a new one ‘for the kids’.

  295. It’s very sad to see Canada is screwing over their teachers, their children, and their future the same way the US is down here. Looks like we’re both doomed together if nothing changes.

    Keep fighting for it to change. We desperately need it, on both sides of the border.

    –An American and son of two life-long teachers

  296. Lenny Says:

    Forgive me for being so underwhelmed by your wordy attempt to evoke some kind of sympathy for your position. If I had the opportunity to organize a birthday party for 30 children, everyday, I would thank the power that is responsible for allowing me the privilege.

    There are people out here that actually have to work for a living … without benefits, without pensions, without weeks of holidays, without job security, and yes – without thanks! And they do it for a fraction of your salary!

    The problem begins and ends with you, and your over inflated sense of self importance. Wake up and take a look around the world you live in. Your problems are insignificant, at most, when put into a larger context.

    Get real, and join the rest of humanity in the line of overworked, and under appreciated.

    • Jen Says:

      Lenny,
      I’m sorry that you don’t appreciate the role teachers play in the lives of students. Educators spend more time with students than their families and are helping them to reach their fullest potential. Children are our biggest investment and need the best educational environment to reach their full potential.
      Just because other people have difficult working conditions doesn’t mean that children should too. Educators are highly trained professionals unlike most of our government representitives whose salaries double-triple ours with full pensions after only several years work. They also have large expense accounts. Teachers pay on average $500 out of their own pockets to supply basic items to students. Teachers are unable to write off any teaching expense. It isn’t about how much money you don’t make compared to teachers, or how little thanks you get in your job (if that’s the case take it up with your employer), it’s about doing what is right for the students and fair compensation for those who are trying to fix a broken system.
      Sincerly,
      Jen…part of the rest of humanity…who can read, write and think critically thanks to my teachers!

    • HH Says:

      Lenny – If you are underwhelmed by Cheryl’s post, you don’t have the empathy or compassion necessary to be a teacher. Thank you for doing whatever amazing, underpaid, overworked job you do. I’m sure you are amazing at it.

  297. Lesley O'Connor Says:

    Thank you for sharing your insight and feelings as a teacher. As a parent with two elementary school chlidren, I care deeply about education. What I observe though it’s been really hard for me to choke down that teachers are asking for a relatively large raise of 15%in 3 years, at a time when other government workers have been mandated for 0% . This wage increase request has overshadowned all the other issues from coming to light for not only myself but many people. That money for wage requests have to come from somewhere due the government’s pledge for 0% increases. We do need to practise fiscal restraint – borrowing from our children to pay for today is not helpful! I can’t help but wonder if the teachers truly cared about class size and special needs assistance, why so aggressive a request for wage increase?
    If a wage increase goes through, it will activate many “me too” clauses with other government paid workers, costing the system a LOT of money, with ultimately less money for programs.

    So sorry, I don’t buy it. If you really cared about the quality of education, then be more flexible in your wage requests.

  298. kim Dicken Says:

    Sorry one more thing to Hailey – since I am such a bad parent who does nothing to support her children at school – it is funny last friday I spent the morning in one of my childs classrooms helping – and I am on my way now to volunteer in my other childs classroom. And no this not the first time – and no I don’t want a cookie or kudos – just take exception to being called a bad parent when everything I do is for my kids.

  299. Kevin Bonell Says:

    Sad to say nothing suprizes me with the BC Liberals Being a Paramedic I have had the same “agreement” since 2001 If you deal with the citizens you are not
    worthy of basic Canadian charter rights. People still vote them in however even with BC rail SCANDALL

  300. Public Says:

    Eh, more money could be put towards better facilities, tools, class sizes, etc if individual teachers didn’t cost so much. Lots of people want to teach (better student to teacher ratio) but there are so few teaching jobs because they cost so much and you can never get rid of them. Unions act in the best interests of the current members of the union and that’s it.

  301. Michelle Says:

    I don’t have time to read all the comments on your letter so I’m not sure if you are getting more positive or negative feeback. I want you to know that I support you and all teachers. I tell every teacher I meet that as far as I’m concerned, they’re on a very high pedestal. Do all teachers deserve it? Of course not. It’s not like they hand out halos when teachers graduate. But, in my opinion, most of the people out there telling you you’ve got an easy job wouldn’t last five minutes doing your job. It makes me sick the way the media has twisted information and the government has bullied you. Although, I have to say, I’m not sure whose idea it was to ask for a raise in a recession or demand bereavement leave for a friend because they just gave the government what it needed to make teachers look bad. The teachers I have spoken to have said those are not the things they are fighting for. They want class sizes to be reasonable, support for all the kids with IEPs and safe schools. THAT I fully support! I’m glad you’re walking out next week because otherwise all the busy parents like me will support you in their own minds but not take the time to actually stand up for you and our children. I’m lucky enough to bright kids that got lots of support from amazing teachers at the elementary level but I do worry about my oldest in middle school who will be one of the ones that doesn’t get spoken to because he’s “fine.” From a professional point-of-view, I am a college librarian and the appalling research skills coming out of the high schools is scary. Here’s a thought, MAYBE one librarian isn’t enough for 1200 kids that need to learn what a research database is or why Google isn’t the answer for scholarly research or how to evaluate the information they do find on the web. The government NEEDS to STOP cutting support out of schools!!!

  302. Sandra Says:

    Hell yes. I’ll definitely be sharing this with people who complain about teachers being ‘selfish’ and ‘irresponsible’. Very well written.

  303. What a fantastic piece, Carol!

    And bravo for putting a clear and thoughtful message out there. I think a big challenge during labor disputes is that significant messages get lost in rhetoric, but this is certainly not the case here.

    A leader like you (and all the other teachers out there) definitely deserve our support and appreciation.

  304. Thanks for this superb letter! Teachers care and should be heard and respected!

  305. Lynne Bohn Says:

    As an EA with over 18 years of experience, and being married to a retiring teacher, as well as a parent of two sons, one of whom has learning disabilities/mental health issues, I found your letter meaningful, eloquent and passionate. My son struggled with many issues that teachers could not address, and had little to no learning assistance. This impacted our whole family & was the main reason that I became an EA. Today, in our small northern town, we have a number kids who attend school very irregularly, show up with no homework done, no school supplies, haven’t slept or eaten because parents partied last night. These kids are often dirty and wear the same clothes for weeks at a time. We, the EAs become parents for the students, helping them catch up on weeks of assignments, show them good self-care and hygiene, provide meals and school supplies. We work in up to six different classes in the five hours of the school day. Sometime we only spend 15 minutes with our at risk kids. We see teachers working very hard to teach all their students, in very crowed classrooms. We have limited gym, computer, and library time, because our school has amalgamated two schools into one. Last week I assisted two LD grade seven students attempt the government mandated FSA tests. I wanted to cry, they couldn’t even understand the concept they were asked to write an essay, in pen, about. I gently told them to try their best & when the results came in, to disregard the score & rating. They would fail, but shame on those who could look at the messy, primary-type printing and scratching out of words they couldn’t spell, and sentences that don’t make much sense, and declare these two students to be not meeting the standards for grade seven. I had planned to work to 20 years, but I’m not sure I have it in me anymore. And I know that teachers are far more invested in their students than I. This government needs to come into classrooms all over the province & witness what it takes to teach in these times and under these conditions.

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  307. Jennifer MacKinnon Says:

    Thank you for your blog, thank you for teaching and as I see so many others have said please keep fighting the good fight. As a former teacher from California and as a parent of two young adults with ADD I have come to appreciate and sympathize with what you go through. The media is merciless at times in villifying educators and that is wrong. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks.

  308. Debbie Geiger Says:

    Hello my name is Debbie this subject is very near and dear to my heart. I have 3 children in the Langley school system that are being effected or have been effected by classroom sizes. My son who is in grade 5 and at this present moment is in a classroom of 30 with different levels of ability. His teacher is faced with teaching kids that are at a grade 8 level all the way down to a grade 2 level, and all of the other stuff in between, like behavioral kids, ESL kids. How in the world is a teacher supposed to deal with this. I give my son’s teacher huge accolades for managing a classroom of this vast diversity, as I could only imagine how difficult it would be. My daughter was in this same teacher’s classroom last year for her grade 5 year, he opened up his classroom before and after school to address my daughter’s and any other child’s learning needs as they couldn’t always get met in the classroom because of the multitude of different learning abilities combined with a large classroom.
    I feel personally that my children are learning at the lowest common denominator because of how the classrooms are designed now. How can a teacher possibly teach in this manner, and get the best results for our up and coming generations, our children, our future. This is a huge problem happening in each and everyone of our children’s lives that are in the public school system now, the government cannot ignore this problem it will not go away, they need to listen to the people that vote for them and make a difference NOW, by changing this downward spiraling disaster that is happening in our public school systems.

  309. Michelle Says:

    WHY is the BCTF making it so easy for the public to not support the teachers? I want to support teachers, smaller class sizes, support for IEPs, but I can’t support the following:

    A 22% increase in salary (the maximum would move from $74,353 to $90,944 a year).
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS: $618 million

    • Doubling high school prep time from one spare per rotation to two; and increasing elementary prep time from 90 minutes per week to 357. Plus: two days off to write report cards, plus one hour off per individual student interim report.
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS: $417 million

    • Up to 10 days off for the death of any friend or relative—plus two days more if travel is involved.
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS: $80 million

    • Sick leave provisions for Teachers On Call.
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS: $81 million

    • Up to 26 weeks of fully paid leave per year to provide direct or indirect compassionate care to any person.
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS: $49 million

    • Eight days off a year whenever a teacher wants.
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS $122 million

    • Topping up parental and maternity leave to allow up to 5 years of leave per child. WHAT????????
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS: $41 million

    • 5 more days off for professional development, at teacher’s discretion.
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS: $80 million

    • Up to five days off a year to care for their child or any other person.
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS: $80 million

    • Unlimited leave for teachers for union business.
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS: To be determined

    • Big benefits upgrades—fully pay MSP, extended health and dental, applying to all teachers (no matter how many hours they work).
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS: $82 million

    • A number of improvements to Teacher On Call pay, including paying them $2,200 per month whether they work or not.
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS: $60 million

    • Retirement bonus of 5% a year to any teacher with 10 years or more service at age 55.
    TOTAL COST TO TAXPAYERS: $445 million

    • Lisa Says:

      Teachers do not expect to get these things. It’s part of the negotiation dance that happens in every negotiation. You always go in asking for more, hoping to get what you need.

      • Dale Says:

        So the teacher’s union is wasting valuable time and money asking for ridiculously expensive items they don’t even need? The taxpayers are fed up with unions taking money from our wallets, and treating us like ATM’s. Unless the teachers demand their union begins contract with some honesty, they are seen as money grubbing whores who start with silly demands.

        The teachers always threaten to go on strike preaching smaller classrooms, the forgotten special needs children. The teachers get a salary increase, the ‘heart tugging’ rhetoric suddenly stops, and then miraculously, the altruistic values they pretended to fight for, just simply quietly disappear until the next round of contract talks begin.

        I have yet to hear any teacher or union rep say, please do not give us any wage increases, hire more teachers instead. Not once!
        Teachers are easily bought with money – just like prostitutes. Any teacher can pay more in taxes, they can all reject salary increases for smaller class sizes, more teachers and increased aides for troubled children, but they never, ever do. They ‘pretend’ to care but always settle for a bigger paycheck, signing bonus, thus leaving my wallet more depleted. They are never satisfied.

      • Jason P Says:

        Dale, you obviously have no understanding whatsoever of collective bargaining. Just as unions ask for an amount over what they expect to receive, the employer asks for the lowest possible, often meaning zero wage increases and clawbacks. It is nothing new. If you call that “wasting time” at least realize that both sides approach it the same way, just from different ends of the spectrum. However, both parties also usually concede here and there to achieve an agreement FAIR to both sides.

        The gov’t has changed that by asking for the lowest and DEMANDING it. When the teacher’s don’t agree and try to negotiate further, the gov’t slams the door and writes up a very undemocratic BILL that would force their demands. This has happened before and the Supreme Court has overturned those Bills as being unconstitutional. The gov’t has openly said they aren’t going to do anything about those court decisions until 2013! If you were convicted of a crime, do you think you would be able to say, “naw, I don’t think I’ll allow you to fine me, jail me, or change my ways for another year. See ya next year!”??

        You have no basis for saying that teachers stop fighting for the rights and welfare of their students once they get a pay raise, except that you want to throw out a general unsubstantiated bullshit statement to make your arguments stick. You’re so full of it you probably voted Liberal and buy their crap about not having money in the coffers. Instead of throwing all this ire at teachers (and probably health-care workers too), open your eyes and see that this gov’t is only concerned with digging themselves out of the debt they created with the Olympics, the ridiculous raises the ministers have given themselves and their cronies, and the frivolous ways they spend taxpayers’ dollars in the day-to-day operations of the gov’t. Want a private jet or a regular helicopter ride, Dale? Join the Liberal caucus.

        They are like an employer who can’t afford to give their employees raises ONLY because they aren’t willing to NOT give themselves a raise, even when it is a known fact that the employees are the ones keeping the “company” afloat. You should be more concerned with the fact that your gov’t has misappropriated the money you’ve be forced to give it. It’s akin to a private company forcing shareholders to support it. The gov’t threatens that taxes will have to go up to pay for teachers’ raises because they know foolish voters like yourself will believe such garbage. The only reason the taxes would need to go up is because teachers’ raises would cut into the exorbitant politicians’ / ministers’ raises and bonuses. THAT is why your wallet is depleted. WAKE UP!

        Also, how do you know the union hasn’t said they’d take a zero raise if the gov’t hired more teachers? Are you at the bargaining table? Why would the union be opposed to that? More members means more dues and people to represent. It would also mean better conditions for the existing teachers as the work could be shared around more. Also keep in mind, the gov’t, YOUR gov’t STOPPED negotiating, bud.

        And you have the balls to suggest teachers are like prostitutes? Wow. Remember that when you ask your boss for a raise, or especially when you accept one. You’re lucky you had people in the past, like teachers, fighting for CPP, minimum wage, vacation pay, and all the other little “freebies” you take for granted. If those people thought like you and bought the gov’t rhetoric like you do, you’d probably be making $5/hr or less instead of what you do. Put that in your pipe and smoke it before you spout off a bunch of crap.

      • Scott Says:

        Dale,

        For the record, I would gladly go with no pay raise if the government would negotiate any of our other demands in good faith. I spoke with my colleagues today, and although we are a small staff of 18, they all agreed that we would happily move past wage increases if our government would actually be willing to bargain on things like class size and composition, teacher librarian time, resource and counselor time, and resources. So know you’ve heard it from about 18 teachers. If you actually bothered to ask around before making such and idiotic comment, you’d find there are many more out there. We take pride in our jobs and are fighting to be able to continue to do them as well as we have been.

      • Rob Says:

        Make it happen. Go tell it to your union rep.

        BCTF announces … we only want to bargain on things like class size and composition, teacher librarian time, resource and counselor time, and resources. Trust me, if the union did this, everyone will be behind them. So much pressure would be put on the government, the contract would be signed in no time.

        No way union will concede on wage and benefit increase. Have never happened and never will.

      • Jason P Says:

        Rob, check your facts before you make such statements: “No way union will concede on wage and benefit increase. Have never happened and never will.” Checking facts before you speak might give more credence to anything else you say. Also, educate yourself about how collective bargaining works before commenting on it.

        Each party brings a number of offers to the table. In some ways it is like chess, and many times a wage-increase is used as a pawn, to be sacrificed so that other offers can be realized. Also, like chess, the offers you start with are the only ones you can use. As an example, if you lose one of your pieces, you can’t decide to just put another piece on the board. If this wasn’t the rule, the bargaining process could just go on-and-on forever. The gov’t has picked up the chess board and flung it at the wall, saying “I win!” Doesn’t that concern you at all??

    • Scott Says:

      Love to know where you got all these figures and made all these calculations. As teachers we have access to all the demands we bring to the bargaining table (for both sides) and I only see four you’ve listed here that are actually accurate. Plus, how are you calculating these exact dollar figures? Sure is easy to talk big when you don’t have to back it up.

      • Jason Says:

        Scott, which four are accurate? Those are some stunning statistics. Also, don’t accuse Michelle of talking big without backing it up until you give her a chance to back it up. You asked her where she got her information. Let’s see if she answers. I’m curious to know as well.

  310. Wendy Says:

    I will never understand why teachers are not asked what is needed to teach students. Is the government afraid we will ask for too much? Honestly, who knows best? I find that even administrative staff, who have taught in the past, lose touch with what is is like to be in the classroom on a day to day basis.

    Teachers are expected to take on the work of social workers, psychologists, parenting of other peoples’ children, referees, and still plan and teach.

    I particularly appreciate that you mentioned those students who do work hard and try Cheryl. These students often do not get enough attention or planned work that could take them a step further because there are more demanding students in the class. There are so many behavioural issues and so little support for students with special needs, that teachers do not even have the time to recognize students who make good choices and who quietly work through the day.

    Those who say we are over paid and under worked have never sat through a day in a modern classroom. They would also need to follow a teach throughout the day to see how little time we have to eat and use the washroom because we also have lunch duties and lessons to prepare for. They would need to stay after school to see the amount of marking, prep, and clean-up we must do. Then of course, there are the meetings after school and all the work we need to take home with us.

    Who will help children become responsible citizens? The government is going to have a larger problem on their hands when students “finish” school and have learned so little because the resources have not been available and teachers have not been allowed to teach.

  311. yestheydont Says:

    Cheryl, Great post. I have many friends who are teachers, and they feel similar to you. Thank you for your eloquent letter. I got it off of facebook, and several friends have posted it. Wishing you a good resolution to this appalling situation. “““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““

  312. Elizabeth Fowler Says:

    I was born, raised and educated in Canada but now live in Mexico. I was proud to see Canada’s education ranked in the top ten globally at a conference on education in Oaxaca Mx this year. It is disappointing to see Canadian teachers and education under attack – keep up the fight and lead the way!
    Here is an interesting perspective from Finland
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/education/from-finland-an-intriguing-school-reform-model.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

  313. mary jane Says:

    i sadly admit i was naive of the reality of the situation and i also used to think you guys had it pretty good.
    but i was wrong and i am truly sorry. i now support teachers 100%. i hope that you will all stand your ground and fight for your rights!
    if you/we do not stand up for your/our rights now, who will be next in line for the hatchet? the hospital are taking pay cuts as well and changes to that system are also being made. what about budget cuts being made to the governments pay check? when are they going to start to pay for their own expensive life style and pass the savings on to the education system and our health system?
    you go!!!

  314. Nonie Chalmers Says:

    Chery, you need to blanket this blog to every news paper in the province. This is a letter for parents to read so they understand the situation. See how many papers actually print this. Good Luck. N Chalmers

  315. grandpa Says:

    Cheryl please explain how any of the above demands of BCTF will benefit children in the classroom. As a parent and now a grandparent of 8 school age children I am very concerned about our education system.
    My primary beef with teachers has always been , and continues to be, tenure. I have seen many, many exceptionally dedicated teachers. I applaud their efforts and wish we could pay them more. However I absolutely can not understand why your organization chooses to protect the incompetent, the unmotivated, the ones “putting in time” etc. I realize they represent a small minority however I can not think of one single good reason why we should leave even one of them in the classroom, pay them as if they were competent, caring and motivated, and have the children in their classrooms receive less of an education then they should be entitled to. I hear your concerns over class size and composition and they raise great points that need to be addressed. Cheryl we need some quid pro quo here. Ask the general public for more money for the masses of dedicated, caring and highly competent teachers and let the system root out the incompetent.
    I realize that assessing teachers competencies is not easy, that does not mean that it should not be done.
    As long as your organization continues to support keeping and paying incompetent(small percentage) teachers, you will not find me supporting your efforts regardless of all other concerns.

  316. Jeremy Glass Says:

    Good for you! That was lovely and heartfelt…. I can see that irony is not lost on you.

  317. Bruce Woloshyn Says:

    Cheryl! This a a well written and articulate post. I wish you and all of the teachers of British Columbia only the best outcome in this sorry situation.

  318. Rodnak Says:

    Sorry Ms. Angst,
    I don’t buy it..
    So the government is almost never right, that is a given… What does irk me when you ask for a 15% pay hike, and call it under the guise of “better for the students”.
    What IF… the government took 10% , as a “raise” and just spent it on the kids? Better facilities, smaller classrooms etc…NO actual pay hikes, just money for the schools?
    I do not argue there are problems in our schools, most kids do not even know how to spell anymore! As goes for many adults!
    Is it because the classrooms are too big….I think not… as others have said, I work in the private sector, if I do not like my job, I can quit and do something else, even if I LOVE what I do now… Life is not fair, period. So to make statements as you have is. sorry, tough beans….Join the real world!
    Oh, I am 55 years old, and when I went to school, there was no special needs programs, most classrooms were 30 plus students, and most of my classmates are doing just fine in “real life”….. So exactly how is a pay raise going to “help” the kids?
    And you say you are now number 9 in pay versus the other provinces? What does that count for? I assume most teachers understand the term “Fiscal Restraint”? Lets get the Unions, especially the strong ones, like the Teachers Union, to start to practice it, the rest of the world has to, and has been for a long time……
    Want to sound altruistic? Strike for the Kids, not 15%, I see through your smoke and mirrors!
    I AM ANGRY, YOU ARE GREEDY AND UNREALISTIC! PERIOD.

    • Christian Says:

      Your … comments…SUGGEST ANGER. Too badd…..!!! You didn’t get….A GOOD EDUCATION ….in ….this PROVINCE. PERIOD.

      • Rodnak Says:

        Gliderman,
        No kids were hidden away from us. Yes there was a “special shop class”, only in high school, and they were not hidden away altogether, but I will agree it was a poor way to treat or teach kids, yes we have learned much since then. I had friends in those classes, level of IQ or however you want to measure a persons intelligence does not make them any less a person. I do take exception to the comment of living in the past. It is a shame to be judged by one’s past experiences, if at least to be used as a reference, a bar to gauge by. I live in today, where yes we have social problems, including school performance. Oh, I assume no kids today laugh at the short bus kids, bullying is solved, and the world financial problems are a myth.
        I am just glad I could make some of you see the other side. As I previously mentioned, life is not fair for anybody, teachers included.

    • gliderman233 Says:

      I would suggest that when you went to school, the special needs children were hidden away from you “regular” students, so that you wouldn’t need to cope with understanding their differences, or even having to acknowledge their existence.

      I would suggest that having 30 plus students at a less differentiated level of educational ability would indeed mean that most of your classmates are doing just fine. What about those in the other class? The ones that rode the “short bus?” The ones that you and your “just fine” classmates laughed at because they are different? Are they “just fine?”

      It is indeed unfortunate that many negative posters live in the past, “when I went to school.” Did you walk to school five miles in the snow, uphill, both ways, as well? Comparing the past to the present is not constructive.

      The system is broken now. As someone who is 55, I would advise you to pay attention to the welfare and well-being of the children in the education system today, as they will be looking after you in your dotage.

    • Darin J Says:

      Rodnak,

      This is my 18th year of teaching, and I can tell you that in the beginning years of my career, we signed contracts with no wage increase at all for many years in exchange for lower class sizes, more specialist teachers to work with special needs students, more librarians & counselors, and other such benefits to students. Yes, those things also benefit the classroom teacher by improving our working conditions, but they most directly benefit the students. Please note that we ‘bought’ those benefits for our students by taking 0% wage increases for most of my working career. Then, in 2002, the government unilaterally stripped those items from our contract–they ‘stole’ them from us.

      Now you would have me give up the right to a wage increase in exchange for the government giving me back what they stole???

      Try this: Buy a new car on credit. Make every payment on time and in good faith. Then have the dealership repossess the car for no reason at all except that they are having trouble paying their own bills. Then fight a 10 year court battle with the dealership and win the right to have your car returned to you–all the while continuing to make the payments on the car you no longer have. Then have the dealership delay returning your car for several years even though the courts ordered them to return it promptly. Then have the dealership ask you to pay for the car again because they are once again short of cash. Then, when you decide to boycott that dealership, try having a very vocal portion of the general public (who only know what what reported of your situation in the media) scream out that you are ‘greedy and unrealistic’!

      Yes, I want a fair and reasonable wage increase so that I can continue paying the bills to support myself and my family. Yes, I want the government to reinstate the language that was stripped from my contract around student learning conditions. No, I am not willing to trade one for the other–I already made that trade once, and it hasn’t worked out very well for me.

      • Rodnak Says:

        Darin,
        All I can say is not happy at your job?… do like most of us in the real world, quit and try a new career, most of us would have… AND, if enough of teachers do it, then maybe things will change organically.
        Too bad about your car, stuff happens

      • Jason P Says:

        @ Rodnak:

        Maybe you should look at joining a union instead of helping the gov’t to destroy them. In a perfect world, unions wouldn’t exist and employers would treat their workers fairly and equitably. If the people in the past thought the way you & AC do, you wouldn’t have minimum wage, vacation pay, CPP, and all the other “freebies” you obviously take for granted.

        If your boss came to you tomorrow and increased your workload significantly (class size), asked you to take care of h/er unruly kids (special needs children) because the cost of a babysitter was too much, and then told you not to expect an increase in pay for the extra work, are you suggesting you would just take it? Or, you would just up & quit without voicing your concerns?

        You’re right, forget taking a few days off to convince your boss that h/er demands are excessive & abusive, most people without unions would just quit and start looking for a better employer. In turn, your boss (the gov’t in this case) would hire someone unaware, dumb enough or desperate enough to take the abuse. Now, throw in the fact that the “work” we are talking about here is our kids, the future, our future. If teachers didn’t care about the kids and their education, they would quit. You should feel fortunate that isn’t the case.

        In a democratic society, especially when dealing with the gov’t, you don’t expect to be have your right to negotiate being stripped away, and a number of the public to vilify you for trying to do the right thing by their children.

    • AC Says:

      Why are you so fixated on the “pay hike??” Back in your days…my god, live in the ‘now’. It’s not about you, get over yourself. It’s about the kids. By the way, teachers are parents as well. I am a behavior support worker and my husband is a teacher. We have 2 children. We both bring our work home. We do it willingly because we care about the kids we work with. I gave up a great paying career in exchange to work with children. Maybe you focus on the pay hike because that’s your motivation for going to work …but not all of us are like that.

      • Jason P Says:

        @ AC

        Do yourself a favour & educate yourself about the process of collective bargaining. The BCTF and the teachers themselves are not “fixated on the pay hike”. Read the following post from a teacher named Scott. It might help you to understand:

        “In the last few years I have come to learn a few things: our union leaders will always bring the wage demands to the table because they know that a great majority of the teachers in BC would be willing to continually give up wage demands in favour of concessions in the areas of class size and composition, resources etc. This is where the union can help you and make sure you still get a competitive wage, because they will take the rap as the ‘bad guy’ that has the nerve to ask for wage increase. Although you can see in many of these negative replies, even doesn’t always work as the general public likes call all teachers greedy. It doesn’t help that it is usually the ONLY demand we bring to the table that the media reports on. There are several other important issues and demands the union would like to negotiate, but these are seldom mentioned in news reports.

        This brings me to the art of negotiation, a principle that seems lost on every negative reply to this letter. What these people that want to call us greedy fail to understand is that you don’t want to come to a bargain table with one demand, because then you have nothing to bargain with. When you come to a FAIR negotiation table, you might only leave with a third of your demands. You give up something to get something. So maybe this time we would give up any wage increase for, say, a hard cap on class sizes in intermediates (something we used to have). The problem was this government came to the table unwilling to concede anything. Instead, they had a list of changes they wanted, but were unwilling to trade anything we wanted off. That’s how negotiating is supposed to work. As we see now, they were clearly just biding their time (wasting tax payer’s money, mind you), going through the motions of negotiating, all the while knowing eventually the education minister would introduce the legislation the way they wanted it.”

        Each party brings a number of offers to the table. In some ways it is like chess, and many times a wage-increase is used as a pawn, to be sacrificed so that other offers can be realized. Also, like chess, the offers you start with are the only ones you can use. If you lose one of your pieces, you can’t decide to just put another piece on the board. If this wasn’t the rule, the bargaining process could just go on-and-on forever. The gov’t has picked up the chess board and flung it at the wall, saying “I win!” Doesn’t that concern you at all??

      • AC Says:

        Hey Jason, I was directing my comments toward Rodnak. It’s a little confusing with all the back and forth comments. I totally agree and appreciate the bargaining process. I

      • Jason P Says:

        Hey AC, sorry about that. The forum does read a bit confusing, lol. Either that or I’m just confused, lol :0
        Oh-oh, I might have left myself open on that one, lol

    • Rodnak Says:

      Hey Christian,
      Very perceptive on the anger thing, see the CAPS and all…I received a great education, graduated top of my class, have been very successful in my career, and did it all without any opportunity to gripe to anybody other than my spouse, nevermind to strike for a pay raise.
      I live in the real world…

      • Jason P Says:

        Rodnack, buddy, YOU live in a fantasy world, lol. If we all lived in the same fantasy world as you, especially our ancestors, we’d all be making $5/hr, no vacation pay, no “family responsibility leave”, no “compassionate leave” … would you like me to go on? Or, would you rather stay in your little fantasy world and keep taking for granted all the little “freebies” you enjoy because of the hard work and sacrifices of people in unions.

        With so many of the ignorant masses like yourself living in your collective fantasy world, I wouldn’t be surprised if the gov’t killed unions (something they’ve wanted to do ever since unions sprung up) in the near future and then started to roll back the minimum wage and all the other things I’ve mentioned. They would sell it as a necessary move to create more jobs, more opportunity, in an effort to bolster the markets. And fools like you would buy it hook-line-and-sinker! lmfao. Actually, what the hell am I talking about, you probably run a company, so what do you care? Cheap labour without benefits would probably be a godsend for you!

      • Rodnak Says:

        Jason,
        I will continue to live in the fantasy world where you get what you pay for… No I don’t own a company, as I said, I have worked in the private sector all my life, and if the employer was crappy, I went elsewhere. If that employer continues to do so, in this day and age, they may shrivel up and die, as no one is forcing anybody to work for them. I don’t say that is just or fair, it is reality. I also work 12 months of the year….less 3 weeks vacation. I personally know teachers that make well over $70K a year, teaching grade school kids.. I won’t say they are just glorified baby sitters, they are more, but not THAT much more….and they only work 9 months of the year. Nice gig…Oops, sorry, more fantasy world speak there.
        Oh Unions have/had their place, they did get rid of sweatshops and more, but no longer is the average worker treated like that, at least here anyway, this is not the third world. The times area a-changin’, new mantra, “Fiscal Restraint”. Don’t say “but why do teachers have to suffer”, you are not alone, times are tough, governments are unfair, go back to work, and vote them out next election. I pay taxes, as do you, and I would like not to give you a raise, and have police or hospitals also need money and they are not getting it either, and they are no more or less important than our children’s education, which I agree is very important, and the BCTF is, yup, still greedy.

      • Kevin Says:

        Rodnak, you have to compare apples-to-apples. Compare teacher salaries to other jobs requiring 5 years of post secondary education. If the top pay for these types of jobs is $75K a year then I think all is fair.

        Also, like many others, you are focusing on the bargaining chip of 15% wage increase. No realistic teacher is expecting to get that. Most of my colleagues aren’t expecting a wage increase of any kind. The real fear is the stripping of seniority, job security, classroom conditions like student numbers and special needs.

        I know there are many people who can’t/won’t be persuaded in their thinking (perhaps you are one of these), and there is nothing I can do about that. However, if people have children that will be going through the system they really need to look at the big picture and see what the government is trying to do to public education. Unfortunately, many won’t be able to see wage issues, which again is negotiable and most likely a bargaining chip that will be sacrificed for what really matters. I hope you can look deeper Rodnak. =)

        Kevin

      • Jason P Says:

        Rodnack, there are plenty of employers out there who treat their employees unfairly and are doing just fine. In fact, some profit more than others for this simple fact. Just look through the comments in this blog alone and you will see countless people talking about how they make crap wages with zero benefits and feel they just have to live with it. If their companies are getting that kind of value for the work being done, how can they not profit (which is what the end game in business is)? And, what incentive will they have to change their ways?

        Good for you if you can just up and leave any job you want. Let me tell you, you are not in the majority. Again, look around this forum. Even think about people you may actually know are in this position. There are people who can’t afford to pack up and leave. There are others who have convinced themselves they aren’t “worth it”. There are others who believe it when their bosses tell them there isn’t money enough to pay them properly, and they stay because they feel vested in that employer, even when their bosses clearly are getting raises and bonuses. Btw, I’m not suggesting ALL companies are like that. In fact, it sounds to me like you’ve found one of the good ones. Look into those past employers you’ve quit. I bet they are still functioning just fine. I know the ones I worked for are still in business, years later. Some poor sap probably gladly filled my vacant position.

        Problem is, society today is full of people like yourself who are only out for themselves. Let those other people suffer and fend for themselves is what I hear you saying. And, you believe the farce that has been instilled in us at a young age that companies who treat people poorly will fail. It is a good fantasy that makes people feel like they have more control than they do. The facts speak for themselves. Unions speak for everyone of us workers, whether you accept that or not.

        People sure are fixated on teachers getting time off over the summer. Um, so would all you people who think that way be happy if your kids never got a break between grades? Isn’t this when most families take summer vacation? How do your children feel about this? Sounds like you want to grind them kids out of the educational machine, lol. Reminds me of that Pink Floyd sung, lol. If there aren’t kids to teach, what would you like the teachers to do in the school? And, who are you all to assume that teachers DON’T work over the summer? Naw, none of that matters though does it? You already have it in your head that teachers are the problem and your finger is already pointing before any words come out.

        “Fiscal restraint”. I don’t have time to find the links again, but the gov’t of BC is doing financially better than other provinces who have put money into education and health-care. They have enough to give themselves some very serious raises and bonuses. I won’t go on because you can find a ton of evidence how they have spent money in some ridiculous ventures that could have been allocated better. It is also a joke to think there still isn’t money in the coffers.

  319. Heather Lapierre Says:

    Cheryl, thank you so much for this. I was an SEA for 20 years until June last year. In the past few years the situation has become untenable. What you refer to as “triage”, we called “putting out fires”. I sincerely hope your message gets out because it’s about time the public finds out what is really going on in our schools, because if the reality is not publicized, it is our children, our future that suffers.

  320. Graham Says:

    I just heard you on CKNW and want to say thank-you. When their champions of the liberal ideals who do the interviewing stop and listen instead of interrupting and brow beating, it is clear the truths that are being told.

    I get the students after they exit grade 7 and see the disparity of abilities demonstrated in an environment where social promotion no longer exists. My Socials 8 class has 11 students on IEPs and 4 more who are have are reading and/or writing significantly below grade level. I spend most of my day putting out fires and managing, wedging in some teaching and learning opportunities where we can. We are currently 6 weeks behind in the curriculum. Everyday

    I need the learning conditions in my class to be practical and appropriate for learning. I need to be respected as a professional who has spent the last 18 years creating a space where learning can happen. I need see class size and composition acknowledged. I don’t need to be paid more.

  321. Michael Wright Says:

    Sounds like many of the comments are from fellow teachers all anxious to get an even sweeter deal than they already have. You guys have no idea what the real world like like outside your bubble. If you don’t like the job anymore for the reasons stated… leave a spot for younger teachers who would love the chance to tackle the problems you whine about here.

    • Scott Says:

      Michael,

      Do you realize how illogical your comment is? You suggest we stop ‘whining’ and just accept these bully tactics by our government? The ‘whining’ you talk about is teachers fighting to make themselves and other teachers better at what they do. How would giving up this fight make things better for these younger teachers ‘who would love the chance to tackle the problems’?

      The fact is that is why we ‘whine’. It is why we won’t give up. If we do, it will only make it more difficult for younger teachers to be effective teachers. It’s all about maintaining the high quality of education we have in British Columbia.

  322. Nick Says:

    What a whiner, yes, I also feel bad for the eleven normal kids in your class, but having the ‘tards all together probably benefitted all the other classes in that grade.

    Teachers ARE overpaid and underworked, your article compares yourself to a paramedic or firefighter, but knowing a bit about relative wages for the amount of work accomplished, there’s no comparison, teachers get paid too much.

    As to the parents w

    • gliderman233 Says:

      “The ‘tards?”

      Really, Nick? How extraordinarily tolerant of you. Interesting how, in Ms. Angst’s class, the “tards” outnumber the “normal.” If this class were the only one, perhaps you would be right. Sadly, it isn’t, and you aren’t.

      Knowing a little bit is a very dangerous thing. When one looks at the whole picture and gets a better idea of how things really are, one gets a true education.

      And one also learns not to click the “post comment” button-thingy in the middle of a senten

    • AC Says:

      ‘tards all together…” unbelievable! Pink Day began because of people like you! You get a fat “FAIL” for your caveman attitude.

  323. Jim Watson Says:

    Cheryl,
    I am very impressed with your extraordinary letter that ‘tells it like it is’! My wife (SD48) goes through this on a daily basis with her elementary class, to the detriment of all her children. I applaud your ability to articulate this growing epidemic and trust that maybe someone in a position of power will finally come to their senses. Keep up the great work!

  324. Christian Says:

    And George Abbott had the gall to refer to the 3 special needs students limit as “a human rights issue” for the “fourth” student that couldn’t get in a class. As you said, Cheryl, what about the other 27 or more students that will get less attention? Are they not human too?

    The special needs limit was designed to protect BOTH special needs in addition to the other “functioning” students in the class. Let’s not forget that.

  325. Jessica Gilmore Says:

    Hi Cheryl,
    Thank you SO much for putting into such elegantly written words, what so many of us feel. Our staff had a chance to read your letter during our lunch break today (in Vancouver) and we were very impressed. I also heard you (briefly) on CKNW this afternoon.
    I hope this letter will make its way to the media – you really should be a spokesperson for the teachers of BC. A true voice of reason and reality.
    Thank you.
    Sincerely,
    Jessica Gilmore, VSB teacher

  326. For the naysayers who have looked at the BCTF list of demands and have decided that teachers are asking for is unfair, I think it is also important for you to read through Bill22 and see what the government is planning to legislate. It is certain that if real negotiation is to happen that a middle ground should be allowed to be reached. What bill22 says to me is (in a nut shell) ‘go back to work, we’ll assign a mediator to deal with your collective bargaining, but you are not allowed to negotiate anything that will cost the government one more penny than is already planned. You don’t get to talk about class sizes, and we are going to remove a lot of points in your last contract that would only affect the governments bottom dollar, and you’ll sign up to these terms for 3 years’.

    Please read this letter again… Teachers took a Pay CUT in 2002. BC teachers rank 9th in the country for level of pay….In Vancouver where the cost of living is the highest in the country, our teachers are paid almost the least. How is this possible?

    In Finland, ranked #1 in the world for education, Teachers are required to have a PhD, It is the hardest post secondary school to get admitted to, and they are paid on par with doctors, they are provided all kids of support, small class sizes and the fewest school days of all nations. They are also assessed regularly, and trained where needed.

    Why is it that many of us feel that teachers are not worth paying. I challenge anyone who thinks that they have an easy job to go and replace a teacher in their class for 2 hrs. I’ve done it…I have no idea how they handle it day in and day out.

    I think that it is time that parents find a way to take a stand and fight for what we think our children need.

    in 2002 BC government reduced the funding to schools by $300million per year. 10 years and $3billion loss later, the olive leaf being extended is $165million increase in funding over the next 3 years… only $30m of that in the first year. Come on ! Really? Do our children mean that little? Who is picking up the ball? It is parents. Our school has a music teacher but no music instruments…no recorders, tamborines or sticks for goodness sake. Our PAC fundraised and is donating these items! Why is it that our teachers are forced to beg to the PAC for school teaching supplies for math and sciences? What happened to public education? Our government needs to wake up and INVEST in the future.

    Thank you for your letter Cheryl. I will be posting this wherever I can. We support your efforts and hope that Bill 22 is put down so that a real agreement can be reached

  327. Wendy O Says:

    Thank you Cheryl for this most informative post….there are so many misinformed folks out there who need to be in the know. As a parent, I really appreciate hearing things from our teachers’ perspective. You guys are so important! We value you and are thankful for you. Best of luck.

  328. Hi Brooks Says:

    The conditions in your school are inexcusable and classroom issues must be addressed…the question is will a walk out help or hurt?

    To be clear, some school districts – mine included – are closing during the walkout and suspending bus routes. The parents in this tourist town are on their own with no daycare options and no benefits that pay them when they are out of work. I work four days a week and if a walkout falls on my work days I will not get paid and will have hard choices to make.

    At a time when parents have struggled in a global recession I cannot afford, literally, to shoulder teachers struggles. I volunteer weekly in a great school that doesn’t suffer any of the plites you describe and have also taught in metro highschools were they do. The issue is do we all need to suffer this action while teachers are paid a wage that exceeds our own?

    Parents have no union or strike pay. We support our teachers but we are on our own when the school is closed. Yes, pressure the government, yes, fight for better conditions but please be sure you measure your actions to those most affected by them most immediately. Think twice and please don’t confuse the issue as many schools are in fact closed Monday through Wednesday.

    Thank you. I hope you see change and that the families who make it through this have jobs and groceries and their homes paid for when you are satisified.

    Hi Brooks
    Whistler BC

  329. Jeremy Gordon Says:

    Cheryl..

    A thoughtfully written piece. Overall, I support public education and I am pro-teacher. The physical plant conditions you describe are totally unacceptable in our province. Similarly, your class composition last year was alarming and unfair to everyone in the class. Clearly, some districts or neighborhoods (perhaps your area in PoCo?) have more kids who need help and this should be addressed thoughtfully by the Ministry of Education. Sadly, using legislation to impose contract terms has proven just as ineffective as the BCTF strategy of going on strike.

    To provide some balance, in my experience (one kid in high school, 2 who are just out of high school), many teachers do NOT communicate with parents frequently enough about achievement or attendance. The Job Action has negatively impacted my kid. Her school is on a semester system and one teacher never told my child their final mark until I phoned a vice principal 3 weeks after the course ended in January. I was surprised by the grade and wanted to know why the teacher never once contacted us. He told me that it was my responsibility to contact him.

    Most teachers are very professional and caring people. Several have coached my kids or led them on life changing trips to Strathcona and Quebec. My kids respect and admire these people to this day. Unfortunately, our family has also had problems with some teachers who were not effective. Teachers who were lazy, erratic or unorganized or who proudly defended marking policies of “zero out of five” anytime kids were absent or took 30% assignments that were one day late. In our experience, it was next to impossible to get my kids changed out of these teacher’s classes.

    A true professional remains current and relevant and works hard to meet their clients needs. I can change my dentist, doctor or lawyer if their services do not meet my needs. I cannot do this with your profession and this needs to fixed.

    Thank you for all you do to support the students in your class. I will write my MLA on your behalf and I hope that you will write the BCTF to address what to do with colleagues that are not as professional as you.

  330. Hugh Says:

    Well said, Cheryl. I am in Australia now with our 3 boys, and can tell you the opposite of what an earlier commenter said. Canada is very near the top in terms of the quality of the education it delivers, and our experience is that our Canadian educated boys (in grades 1, 8, and 9) are finding it easy here.

    This morning I heard BC teachers are going on strike, and found your post here. I agree with you- teachers are vitally important to our kids. Thanks for painting a picture of what has happened to teachers over the last 10 years.

    Maybe your post will make a difference in what is turning into yet another highly charged political mediastorm. I hope so. I also hope that one way or another, the heat in that vegetable-filled cauldron you call a “work environment” gets turned down.

  331. Melanie Says:

    Your letter really helped this teacher from Ontario understand your circumstances, and I am sad to say we a only a step behind with similar circumstances in our education system with a pending contract renewal. Kudos to you on your perfectly articulated post. Teaching, and the nature of a teacher is simply something that one cannot explain to others. There are the weary few only in it for a paycheck, but the remaining 95% lose sleep at night when thinking about the needs of their students and how they can ever be reached in such a system. It is the nature of a teacher to work to the point of burnout and take on the weight of the world for their students. There is no system, besides a union, where teachers can advocate for their students. It’s not like we can get anywhere speaking locally. The public needs to understand that a teacher trying to get the attention for a failing system in their own school or district is the same as “Joe Citizen” complaining about taxes at a town meeting. I appreciate you trying to enlighten the public, but until the public finds themselves within the education system, they will simply not understand. Stay strong, my friend and remember…”To the world, you may be just one person…but to one person, you might just be the world.”

  332. Kristin Says:

    Wow… I have nothing to say. I am in tears.

  333. Michelle T Says:

    This is so well put. I am tired of seeing teachers being attacked in Canada and in the U.S. It’s time to stop turning teachers into the enemy. I support you and other B.C. teachers and hope the provincial government will bargain with you instead of legislating you back to work.

  334. Blaine Mandin Says:

    Thank-you for your well written and thoughtful letter. I will be writing my own letter to my MLA as well. I have been a teacher for 21 years, and for the most part have loved every minute of it. I have not needed the support of the media, the government, or the general public. I have gotten sooooo much back from my students each and every day. Just when I feel discouraged, something happens to remind me why I decided to become a teacher. When I meet a former student who is now an adult, who tells me that she wants to become a teacher because of the influence I had on her. A mom whose son was in my class for two years comes to me on the last day of school in tears. She thanks me for being a father figure and helping him understand what it means to be a good man. When I ask my class the most important thing they learned that year and they tell me “what it means to be a person of character.” When the light bulb finally goes on for the student who has been struggling with long division and I hear that glorious, “Ooooooh! I get it!” We all have those moments when we know we have made a difference, that we have had an influence in a child’s life. On a daily basis I have not needed the support of the media, the government, or the general public.
    Until now!!!! I have been a single income earner and have had to work 2 jobs most of my career to make ends meet. This means Saturdays, Spring and Christmas Break, as well as every summer. Before I first started my teaching career I was working at a saw mill until I got my first job. I had to take a $20,000 cut in pay! When I heard what Bill 22 contained, I have never felt so disrespected. So angry! We have done everything in our power to come to the table ready to bargain and to take part in job action that does not impact students or their parents. It breaks my heart every day when I look into the eyes of a boy who desperately wants to read what the other kids are reading, but cannot because he has a learning disability. How do I give him the attention he so desperately deserves, while not ignoring the other 24 children in my class? His LST support has been decreased because of government cuts and I can see his frustration starting to grow each and every day. Many of us have more than one of these students in our classes. Numerous studies show that many of the young people and adults who end up in trouble with the law, on drugs, or in jail have some kind of learning disability, ADHD, behavior issues, or came from low income families. Spending the money it will take to properly support our education system, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to become literate and confident will only save the government – and ultimately our society – so much in the future.
    To the parent, Dionne, I thank you for your response. We, as teachers, know how much parents care and are informed about what their kids are doing in school. I see you as our partners. I hate to use cliches, but the one about it taking a community to raise a child is very apropos here. All of the people who have a vested interest in educating our young people should be working together to make a good education system even better. I have worked in construction sites, manufacturing plants, and pulling off the green chain in 30 degree weather. It is hard, back-breaking work and I applaud all of those of you out there who do this on a daily basis!!!! But could you imagine doing your job if your employer only gave you
    half of the mortar or tools you needed to do the job? What if the bricks were all different sizes, shapes, and made of different material? What if one of your bricks suddenly decided that they did not want to be part of the wall that day? What if just as you thought you were finished building the wall, your employer told you that it suddenly needed to be higher and wider? What if you no longer just needed to build the retaining wall, but the community now said that you need to do the plumbing, the electrical, the landscaping, feed the hungry child down the street, make sure that your fellow employees get enough exercise,… So many things that our community says are important has somehow become the responsibility of the school system. Everything from teaching kids about their sexuality, to making sure they are fed properly, to making sure they get their 30 minutes of exercise per day, to teaching them about drug abuse, to how to use technology effectively and wisely, to how to stand up to a bully, to how to manage their time, to learning about money,… Oh, and don’t forget reading, writing, and math!
    When our union president says that we do not take this step lightly, she really is speaking for the rank-and-file teacher. We know there is not an endless supply of money, and that if we keep going the way we are going we will become another Greece or California. We understand that we are in the midst of a global financial crisis and that many people are losing their jobs. All we wanted was a negotiated settlement, with both sides giving and meeting somewhere in the middle. (We are now asking for 3% per year over three years, which is barely a cost of living increase.) Maybe it seems like the “greedy teachers” are always asking for more money. The fact is that in the past 20 years, BC teachers have taken 0% wage increases six times in exchange for improved learning conditions like class size and composition language. Then the Liberals came into power and just ripped up our contracts and took all that away.
    After this is all done and we get back to “normal” (whatever that is going to look like) maybe it is time for all sides to start thinking outside the box to come up with creative solutions to our problems without the rhetoric. Without the politics. Without the distrust. I am an optimist by nature. Maybe this is a pipe dream. But we can hope, can’t we?
    I realize that most of us “trudge along trying to make ends meet.” I, for one, do not feel entitled. I feel like I have one of the best and most fulfilling jobs – no vocations – in the world. Most days, despite the challenges and frustrations, I wake up and look forward to going to work. I cannot wait to see all those smiling faces, full of potential and personality and a mischievous sparkle in their eyes. I learn and laugh and have fun and work hard and cry and challenge and get challenged and get hugs! That is why I teach.

    Blaine Mandin (SD # 36 Surrey)

  335. grandpa Says:

    Cheryl – Yesterday you responded to the many comments about the BCTF reducing wage demands so that the government can spend that money reducing class sizes and improving resources. Your response quite correctly was that it is now illegal for the BCTF to bargain for those things. OK I can accept that.
    Then leave all of those issues out of your current comments and deal with money and your benefits. Do not try to fool the public by clouding your personal demands with the plight of our school infrastructure and supplies.
    The time to deal with the “problems” within our schools is prior to an election. Then it is time for your union to step forward with real factual data to convince the voters that something needs to change. They need to find a political party that will promise to make those changes and they need to encourage the voters to support that party. You members need to instruct your union that they need to be believable. They need to project an image that the general public believe they can trust. Over the years the BCTF has lost public support because of the courses of action they have chosen, just as they are doing now. The current contract BCTF “starting point” for negotiations is objectionable to a large majority of tax payers( read voters). Even if you do not expect to get all of those benefits we the public see asking for it as greedy. We have a democratic system and free speech and if things in the schools are really that bad shame on your “professional” organization for having failed to let the public know in the past. Now is not the time, it is just smoke and mirrors in the hopes of gaining public support.
    You can not legally negotiate for class sizes, class composition, books, school conditions etc – then stop talking about it and tell us about the real issues that will make your union happy.
    I’m sorry but :
    Classrooms are overcrowded – does not equal – teachers need more money
    There are too many learning challenged children in classrooms – does not equal – teachers need more money.
    School buildings are falling apart – does not equal – teachers need more money
    We do not have enough school texts – does not equal – teachers need more money
    We the public need to offer a sufficient wage to attract applicants for the jobs we offer and sufficient to encourage those now working within the system to stay. Apparently we have been doing that as there is no shortage of teachers to fill any position that is offered. If teachers were truly underpaid they would go somewhere to get properly paid. We would have a big problem to find teachers to work in our schools.
    You need a raise, I get it, quit being greedy and get real.
    Also many teachers have responded to the numerous blogers who have suggested that they now use private schools to avoid the issues found in our public school system. A part of those problems can certainly be found in bricks and mortar( the physical buildings and supplies) but most of those have moved their students because of the quality of teaching. Yep! That is what they are looking for when they move to private education. It is possible to find and hire better quality teachers. The schools with the best reputations get the most students. I know you can now argue that the demographics are not fair for comparison and class sizes etc are less in the private schools. I am not talking about that. I am talking about the private school system hiring, AND KEEPING, only skilled and dedicated teachers, and that attracts parents.
    I wish we had a double system in our larger communities. The government should continue to provide “public” schools as in the current system but they should also pay private corporations on the same funding formula as public schools. Start with an equal base. The private corporations would provide “free” access to their schools and the public could choose which system to send their students to. This would be much like the system in Alberta wherein they fund the Catholic school program on the same basis as the regular schools. It is important to understand that in Alberta all children, regardless of religion, can choose to enroll in the Catholic schools. Let’s have some competition. Let’s see if you want to continue to have your union protect those of your members who are now incompetent.
    Let’s see which system prevails and drop the one that fails.
    I realize that is a radical thought but please stop telling me about classroom size when what you really want is more money.

    • Melissa Says:

      Well said Gramps!

      • kim Dicken Says:

        Well said- May I add that my 6 year old daughter came home yesterday telling me that her student teacher sat them all down and told the class that there was no school on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday because there are too many kids in the class and teachers cant teach that many kids. These are 6 & 7 year olds – anyone else find this inappropriate? I am really trying to find some way to support your fight, but the radical few and their actions just turn me off.

    • Shannon Says:

      I agree with every word. Good job!

    • Jason P Says:

      Gramps, the BCTF are still asking to negotiate class sizes and resources, but at the local level instead of provincially. However, the employer has rejected this. There is a Supreme Court ruling saying that these things MUST be included in the bargaining process, but, for some inexplicable reason (bought judges?), the ruling apparently also gave the gov’t a provision to take a year to get there shit together (2013). They could, if they wanted to do the right thing, waive that provision and right the wrong during these negotiations. Maybe you should ask yourself why the gov’t, your gov’t, isn’t willing to do this, and leaves the BCTF much else less to bargain with than wages and other such things.

      On your statements of teachers asking for more money, consider this: your boss comes up to you and tells you s/he is going to significantly increase your workload (class size), but don’t expect a pay raise or any help in taking on this extra work. Next, s/he tells you to also look after h/er two unruly children (special needs kids) while you’re at it because s/he can’t afford daycare. Again, don’t expect a pay raise. Now, tell me you aren’t opposed to this and don’t think you deserve a pay raise. To make things worse, you notice the HVAC system isn’t working. S/he tells you to suck it up, there isn’t money in the budget for that either. What does a non-union person do without recourse? Why, quit of course. Your boss doesn’t care, s/he hires someone to replace you with a smaller salary who is unaware, dumb enough, or desperate enough to take the abusive situation. Problem solved?

      Now, consider that the “work” we are talking about is the education of our children, the future, our future. Unlike people like YOU, teachers don’t quit because they ARE NOT greedy. They stay because their first concern is the children they care for. However, that also doesn’t mean they shouldn’t ask for a raise, especially when that is the only thing left to them, and especially when they are trying to use that as their pawn for getting the gov’t to acquiesce on the issues that really matter, like class size, etc.

      The unions DO put forth facts and opinions about the gov’t at election time. Obviously, you conveniently didn’t listen then either. As for teachers speaking up publicly, when they are under contract, that would compromise the contract between them and their employer and they would be punished for it. In fact, they could be fired. Unions most often support the NDP.

      However, let’s be real, my friend. Any gov’t that gets in generally does the same thing. They are concerned with lining their own pockets, salaries and bonuses that come every year without fail in one form or another. They say they can’t afford to give their employees raises ONLY because they aren’t willing to NOT give themselves a raise, even when it is a known fact that the employees are the ones keeping the “company” afloat. You should be more concerned with the fact that your gov’t has misappropriated the money you’ve been forced to give it. Corporations always receive exorbitant tax cuts to fund the gov’t further. Taxes will continue to go up & up, whether or not teachers or health-care workers or any other public union gets a raise. You, as a voter, should be ashamed for buying the gov’t bullshit you gladly eat up. The gov’t works to turn the public against unions and a lot of the public buy it up because they’re stuck in their own little holes. Misery loves company. And that’s why the large gap exists between rich and poor and the middle-class is dying off. Why do “the people” put up with it? We are so intent on bringing each other down that we fail to stand together.

      You want privatization and no unions? Maybe you would also like to give away your vacation pay, your CPP, minimum wage, and all the other little freebies you take for granted that unions have fought hard for, FOR EVERYONE? With your line of thinking, that is the future you want. The gov’t would announce those cuts as necessary to create more jobs, more opportunity, in an effort to bolster the markets, and bring down the prices of commodities for its faithful shareholders (taxpayers). And fools like you would buy such shit hook-line-and-sinker!

      In a democratic society, especially when dealing with the gov’t, you don’t expect to have your right to negotiate stripped away, and a number of the public to vilify you for trying to do the right thing. What the gov’t has done and wants to do should cause the people of BC a helluva lot more concern than the BCTF utilizing its right to put forth an offer of a wage increase as a genuine process of bargaining fairly. Shame on you, as a member of a democratic society, for backing your gov’ts fascist response to the people responsible for educating your youth.

  336. Rob wootski Says:

    Hi my name is Rob, I have a wife and 5 month old daughter that I would do anything in the world for. I have had the same job for the last 12 years, I make 35000 a year and have a 300000 mortgage. We have a family budget that we beak even every month, we both work hard and love life. I would love more than anything to have another child but unfortunately don’t have the finances to afford it. I would like add my opinion that I unfortunatley don’t have the extra income to add to my taxes to pay for your proposed raise because of tough economic times.

    • Rob Says:

      holy smokes! How can you make so little and have such a big mortgage. That is financial suicide!

    • Mike Says:

      Sounds like you need a financial planner!

    • Jason P Says:

      Join or enlist a union and get paid fairly.

      Besides that, you really aren’t so naive that you actually think your taxes won’t go up because of the gov’ts “net-zero” policy, do you?? Wake up, my friend! Taxes will always go up as long as the top levels of gov’t are allowed to write their own cheques, salaries & bonuses, and are allowed to run it like an organization of misfits who know they have a handcuffed, forced benefactor. The govt blames “greedy” teachers and health-care workers because they know the ignorant masses will buy it up and will be easily detracted from the truth. Too many people aren’t willing to stand up. Yet, they are eager as hell to yell at anyone who does to sit the f**k down. That is a major problem with our society, too many sheeple!

      • Michael Wright Says:

        To Kevin and Scott above -

        Scott, I’m using the $74,000 Kevin confirms here after 11 years and extrapolating it to what it would be if you worked a full year as most workers do. $74,000 for 10 months equals $88,800. Then I added $10,000 which pays for all your other benefits… days off for sick days, employers share of UIC, CPP etc. And don’t forget as a fortunate Canadian, all of your health care insurance is paid for by the government… or don’t you count that as a benefit (well you will if you air anyone in your family gets seriously ill and requires big $$’s in treatment). So I get to $98,900 and then I valued the incredibly rich pension plan you receive after relatively minimal service at approximately $20,000/ year. Total $118,900.

        Point 1. I don’t know why showing your Net income makes any difference… everyone pays Federal and Provincial tax. You are happy about that I know because that is what pays your salary.

        Point 2. Kevin, amount of university education has no relevance on starting salary in the real world… people start low and earn increases on merit. I know most people went to university to improve knowledge for knowledge’ sake and to prepare themselves for the transition to adulthood… let’s face it, most young people enjoy the social elements of their university days.

        And Scott, if you are relying on all the support Cheryl is getting on the comments to this blog… don’t kid yourself, I got into the debate after reading about it on a Facebook page… today of the 60 plus comments on that Facebook post… comments are running 6 to 1 against the teachers position on this. And many of the taxpayers are really angry about your demands and threat to strike.

        Perhaps the government will have the guts to firs any teacher that strikes illegally. Then they can hire back the ones they want and bring in the next generation.

        Don’t spend too much time laughing… clock is ticking on the BCTF… just wait until you see the backlash if schools close down over your demands!

      • Scott Says:

        I’m talking about real figures…you have tried to explain, but these are still fantasy numbers. $10, 000 for UIC, sick days…Where does this number come from? I can’t find anything that adds up to near that amount on my final pay stub of the year. And then prorating a 10 month salary with money that doesn’t really have to paid (meanwhile being quick to remind everyone that we only have to work 10 months a year). A checked my pension prediction sheet from last year. You consider 32 years relatively little service? And I still don’t see how you arrive at $20,000 a year? Last year I contributed $6,000 to pension.

        Clearly there is no changing your mind. You have made up some numbers that help support your view of teachers as over paid sand baggers. I’m just going by what I really get paid. If you want to believe your numbers, it is your right. I’m glad you found some folks on your Facebook page that share your beliefs. Have you checked the Premier’s page out? Not a lot of support for her pink shirt day…numbers a little different than your page.

      • Kevin Says:

        Michael, I know you are trying to justify your claim of BC teachers making $120K a year but your argument is such a stretch. One simply cannot take your points seriously. Your view of the numbers is just not correct. I know you want to extrapolate a teachers 10 month wage to a 12 month period, as if we would get no time off at all. Don’t most jobs have time off. I keep saying apples-to-apples because you can’t compare how much time you have off with me and everyone else. Only compare us to other 5 years education careers.

        The fact is that teachers don’t get paid for 12 months. If we go by your 120K a year salary for BC teachers then I suppose Alberta teachers make 140K per year, and where does that leave us? We are still 9th in Canada. Jason, who earlier admitted to making $90K per year as a trades person would actually make more because we would have to factor in his benefits and his time off. Maybe his benefits and extrapolated overtime over a 12 month period would be 130K by your formula. You just cannot compare the way you are doing it. It is too speculative and not clearly aligned.

        I know it is tough for you do rethink this. You have your mind made up and it is tough to alter a mind made up. Alas, it is good to think about BC education and I hope that compromises are made on both sides. =)

  337. Ted Says:

    Teachers are still the highest paid unemployed around.. What 70k for 180 day’s !!!!!!! try a real job whiner.. IT for example ratio 400 users to 1 IT tech..30-45K PS.. No Raises in last 5 years,,,,Granted 90% are self sufficient but simple math says 40 (not the 30 your whining about) but 40 (and that’s a low number, as it increases with the complexity of the systems) and these are real special needy (not your 11).. Suck it up sunshine. Average 268 days a year ver’s 180. and what you work 9 – 3 Maybe 8:30 to 3:30 HA.. Try 7 to 5 at a min most days; and more, and also I’m on call that means 24/7 not 9-3 / 5 days a week… I don’t get 2 months off every summer (I get 2 weeks vacation) plus what 10 PD days a school year then there is what 2 weeks at Christmas ( i get 2 stats) then another 2 weeks at Spring break ,AKA Easter, I get good Friday. Do the Math.. So What if your a glorified Baby Sitter, AKA DAY Care. And don’t tell me about (well i need the PD days for Prep time) BULL any teacher worth their salt (AKA more than 3-5 years experience) already has the prep done from previous years just repeats the previous years.
    SO re cap I work 1/3 longer each day, up to 2 days more each week, and 80 day’s more each year for half the amount you make.. BULLS&&&…SUCK IT UP You Chose your profession as did I But I don’t complain like you.. I’ll concede Education is valuable, But so is the guy on the Side of the road digging the Ditch..

    I could go on and when I see posts like this (it pisses me off) I grew up the kid of and educator so I know first hand.. SO WHEN I SAY TEACHERS ARE THE HIGHEST PAID UNEMPLOYED AROUND I KNOW WHAT I”M saying is true……

    So the long and short of shut the F… up and teach my kid without complaining or get a REAL JOB..

    • J Says:

      It’s scary to think that you allow your child be “educated” by a group of people that don’t even qualify as “real workers.” Your “maybe” extra hour that teachers work…You have no concept of reality. Most teachers I know are putting in 10-12 hour days when it is all said and done. They spend their deserved breaks taking time away from kids like yours that have a pathetic attitude just like YOU. I hope your kid ends up in a class of 40, or 50, or 60, because any old Joe could handle it like you say. Maybe it will be at that point that you will see; when he is as illiterate and backwards as you. It will be then that you come to the realization that maybe you should have “shut the F up” and kept your ignorant opinion to yourself. Maybe home school would be a better option in your case, but I would be terrified to see where this child of yours ends up. I presume it would likely be behind bars. The one word that sums you up: BOZO. I hear the circus is hiring.

    • Jules Says:

      Wow! So teaching isn’t a real job? They are just overpaid glorified babysitters? Wow…get a real clue buddy.

    • M. Says:

      Ted, there is no way that you are the child of an educator, and if it IS true, unfortunately, they must have been one of “those teachers in it for the money.” There is not a person who has lived with an educator who does not empathize with what goes on. Your rant is so off base, it barely warrants a reply, but take it from someone who got into teaching late after many other public sector jobs. Teaching is BY FAR, the most difficult job I have ever done. So much so, that I may go back to the “real jobs” that you speak of so that I can actually have a life again and get over my depression that comes from the sense of powerlessness that the blogger describes. Watching from the outside is not the same as doing. I will not judge the difficulty of your job as an onlooker, and until you have actually taught, well, you just come off as one of the ignorant parents who we deal with every day who think we “babysit”. Thanks for your support, and your children who sense your disrepect for teachers are watching you.

    • HH Says:

      Dear Ted – Did you actually read the post (and if you did, thank a teacher)? The real area of concern here is that the students are suffering in the system that is in place now. p.s. Anger management classes might not be a bad idea. Of course, you would need a teacher and, well…

    • gliderman233 Says:

      Ted, if you grew up the “kid of AND (sp.) educator” then you probably weren’t paying much attention to what they were doing. Your mother or father choose their profession, as did you. Their profession paid for your upbringing. Did you ever borrow money from “the Bank of Mom?” If so, then you owe a debt to the education profession.

      You compare the time worked (unfortunately inaccurately) of a teacher and your chosen profession of IT, yet a more useful comparison may be that of a government MLA. How long does the house sit? How much do Ministers make?

      I feel sad that the teachers you would like to have in your child’s education system would only need to teach the same thing year after year regardless of the ever-changing world around them. I would prefer that my children (one in the public system, one about to go into Kindergarten next year) would have teachers who actually pay attention to changing society and skills sets, as the vast majority do.

      I am, as you may have guessed, a teacher. In my grade 7 math class, I purposely do NOT repeat my curriculum exactly the same way year after year. Every year, I assess my students when they arrive, to see where they are at, and how best to design the path they will take for each of them to reach success by the time they are ready to leave in June. Doing the same thing year after year (and I have taught for more than 3-5 years) is not the best way to meet my students’ needs. Do you still give IT advice on Commodore 64′s and Apple II’s? I doubt it.

      Oh, and by the way, I am also the IT representative for my school. Which means:

      1) I am responsible for making sure the 60+ computers, printers, projectors, smart boards, scanners, etc. in the school are all in working order to make childrens’ learning more effective

      2) I am responsible for training staff on software and hardware

      3) I am responsible for maintaining the school’s website

      Sound familiar? So I have 250 kids and 40 staff in my school, so my IT load is about 110 less than yours, but some of my clients are in Kindergarten. Oh, and I don’t get any extra compensation for this, nor any extra time during the instructional day. I do this work during my own preparation time and before and after school, and from home at night or on weekends.

      Oh, and I also teach Math, Social Studies, Science, Language Arts, PE, Art, Drama, French, Health, and Career Education.

      I could go on, but I am not complaining that I have to do all these things. Like you said, I chose to be a teacher. I am not bitter about these things, I enjoy these things. I do not enjoy seeing my students suffer for lack of support of their needs, or seeing classes overcrowded, or kids that don’t qualify for support fall through the cracks because there isn’t enough to get them designated so they can receive that support, or seeing the qualifications for getting support raised so that it becomes impossible for the students who need it to get it.

      You have a real job. So do I.

      If you don’t have the resources to do your job, work doesn’t get done, data doesn’t get moved, information doesn’t get communicated.

      If I don’t have the resources to do my job, children don’t learn, learners aren’t inspired, and people are less than they could be.

      So, the long and the short of this response is that I will not shut up when my students are suffering, I will teach your kid (though the parents of students in my class are much more understanding than you seem to be), and I do have a real job.

    • Joanna Says:

      You are the child of “and” educator? And so what if your child’s teacher is a glorified baby sitter? Wow! Really really sad. Whoever you are, Ted, you are a really really sad little man.

    • Gustav Says:

      You are very ignorant…

  338. Daisy Says:

    Wow…that was amazing, Cheryl. I really hope this letter gets read out loud. I am a young teacher and this will be my first strike I will be participating in. I really feel for the more experienced teachers, like you, who have been fighting for our students for so many years.

    Thank-you for all that you do and for writing this letter,
    Daisy

  339. Brad Buie Says:

    Thank you for your letter. I am in full support of enabling teachers, or anyone for that matter, to negotiate with their employers. So I support the right of teachers to take strike action.

    However, I would like to offer some context and balance to this debate. First, BC’s other public sector unions have agreed to a net-zero mandate. Any deal would open up the door for these other unions who’ve agreed to buckle down to renegotiate. Renegotiating in our current economic state means a serious deficit, which means means going down the road of provinces like Ontario running $16 billion deficits. If it gets to that point, the cuts may get severe. This is what Ontario is facing right now, and I don’t think any of us want BC to get into that situation. That said, I think education is always a wise investment for a province or a country attempting to grow and nurture their children – so when I see BC Hydro executives getting bonuses when they’re actually incurring debt, that makes me incredibly angry. My point is, there’s only so much pie – let’s not give out slices that we do not have. But let’s be sure we wisely portion out the slices we do have. That’s where we need to take a closer look. For the time being, ALL of BC should understand we need to be fiscally responsible, and when times improve, let’s see all public sector employees get their fair share. No more and no less. I’d say just as you don’t like being stereotyped as lazy, overpaid, slack and incompetent, I don’t think it’s wise to stereotype the government as merely interested in re-election.

    Your comments focus on class conditions (no heat, carpenter ants, lack of textbooks, small space, no seismic upgrades) and class composition (large size, high proportion of special needs). These are, indeed, horrid conditions to teach and learn in. I’m in full support of money going here first. However, I think salary increases are going to have to wait until things improve, and then let’s see some increases across the board.

    Finally, a word about teachers. Some of the finest, most generous, most intelligent, and compassionate people I know are teachers. It is one of the most honourable professions, and I have a great deal of respect for teachers. On the other hand, I also know lazy, incompetent, corrupt teachers – and a small few who actually have a big hate on for children. I’m sure we can all remember from the time we ourselves were children the teachers who inspired us and the ones who disappointed us. My point is, let’s not idealize teachers. Many professions are honourable – a farmer who grows food, a business person who provides services or products and employees people, a policeman who serves and protects, a social worker who helps families. So many of us work hard, really hard at what we do, and we love what we do, and we contribute to our society in positive ways. I sympathize with teachers when they’re not given the tools to do their jobs. However, if the work is exhausting and energy sucking day after day then I suggest finding an alternative profession. If you don’t love it, if you don’t find it satisfying and fulfilling then your students won’t either. Throwing a birthday party day after day is not such a great example, unless your partying along with your students!

    Don’t give up on the resourcefulness of our province as a whole – government, families, teachers, community – need to work together. I’m in favour of your right to strike, but please keep these thoughts in mind.

  340. Melissa Says:

    Can I just say thank you for standing up for my future? I’m a student teacher, in my final practicum in a high school, and I have never seen as many teachers stand up for not only their students, but those of us who are braving the world of politics and uninformed public members, to make a difference. I have had incredible practicum teachers in my 2 years of Education Schooling, having already having to complete a Bachelors Degree, just to get accepted into the program. I want to thank you, and every other teacher for giving me the strength, courage and determination to make a difference, in not only my students lives, but change the government.

    I will always fight for the right of students, and the teachers. I hear the public saying that we have all this time off, and technically only teaching for, what 6 hours a day. But that is completely unreal. Most days, I am at the school by 7:30am, and don’t leave until 6:30pm, prepping for the next day, photocopying, marking, emailing parents, calling parents, collaborating with other teachers to see what is working, and how I can improve my teaching, or even just sitting with my co-operating teacher learning all I can from her. And that is just the time I’m at school, I get home, have a little dinner, and then continue on with planning, and marking, and coming up with assignments that will engage the students into learning. Its a never ending job, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. At all. The Pro-D days parents complain about, are not there for teachers to take a day off, in fact, I attend all of them and I learn, about new techniques and methodologies for teaching and being a learner myself. I see teachers who have been teaching for 40 years taking the same workshops and asking the same questions as I am, because we are always trying to learn something new. The two months off during the summer, well, honestly, last summer I spend researching how to teach a new subject that I would be teaching in the summer, planning my year, making up worksheets, photocopying, and generally, trying to have a day off. In fact, most of the teachers in my city, have summer jobs, to cover the cost of living, its a shame that one of the top educational curriculums in the world, happen to be the LOWEST paid teachers in the country, that teachers must take up second and sometimes three jobs to cover the cost. I myself am forced to work nights and weekends to support myself, and my classroom supplies that are NOT provided by the school.

    Yes, this year teachers have been in job action, but I have spoken with parents who have told me not once have they had this much contact and updates of their students marks and behaviours in class. Myself, am sending mark updates home weekly, and calling parents at the same time. This year has done no more harm to students education than the last 10 years of neglect from a Government who claim that they are the future, but will do nothing to ensure that they have the best education possible.

    I love my students, they get me through the days when we are surrounded by negativity, and today, they walked out in support of what I want to be, and what their other teachers are, incredible educators who will do everything and anything to make them achieve their goals.

    And to this, I am thanking every single teacher out there, those who have my back, and those who voted yes, for my future and those who I teach, because I couldn’t vote. So thank you teachers, and thank you, for standing up for what you believe in.

    Melissa

  341. Baily Says:

    Seriously?? OMG……then to have the token NDP pop a comment in…..all I can say is BAHAHAHA. IF the teachers didn’t have such ridiculous demands, I hope you all get NOTHING!! Try working min, wage WITH an education and then GRIPE!!!

    • yep Says:

      That’s no one’s fault but yours. You have a degree? Get a better job!

    • HH Says:

      Wow, Baily. I can’t believe you work for minimum wage WITH an education. You sound so articulate and empathetic. You would have made a great teacher. Perhaps you will re-consider and join our ranks?

    • AC Says:

      Baily,

      How did you end up making minimum wage with an education…You shouldn’t give up so easily.

  342. Reta Says:

    One day I was wondering why education is so excessively challenging in this day and age. Then a person commented to me that years ago there was NO integration. Children with special needs were in special schools. So, I went back to my junior high year book from Calgary, and looked for children with special needs. Of the 237 in my school in 1979, there were NO children with vision impairments, hearing aids, wheel chairs, autism, Down Syndrome, epilepsy, and so on. These children were in special schools. Classes were arranged homogenously with all of the top kids together, the moderate and the low kids. There was a full time principal, a full time vice principal and a full time librarian. There were no computers. Children with behaviour challenges stood in corners, were hit with yardsticks, were sent home, strapped, and expelled. Now, most of these children are in their community schools. They are integrated as much as possible into their classrooms with their peers.
    The system has gotten much better at identifying those with learning disabilities and special needs. There is supplemental funding for some, BUT they are not financially supported as much as they need to be. For example, a child with autism (Category G) has about $18,000 in supplementary funding. Yet, a 6 hour aide (EA, CEA, etc.) costs at least $30,000 plus the costs of specialists involved such as learning resource teachers, speech pathologists, counsellors, occupational therapists, etc. They come out of the same pot of money. Children with learning disabilities, are gifted, have mild intellectual delays (IQs between 55-70) and those with moderate behavioural challenges do NOT receive extra funding. Professional development for teachers is less to do with math and reading, and so much more to do with learning how to teach children with autism, FASD, hearing impairments, anxiety and other mental health disorders. B.C. has the highest poverty rate in Canada. Schools feed and clothe children. Teachers are asked to become experts in so many areas because specialists have been cut so much. I won’t even get into extracurricular stuff.
    The government says “only 3 IEPs per class”. I travel to ten schools and if there is a class with no IEPs or learning needs, I have yet to see it. There are a whole bunch of classes with more than three and many more children with learning or behavioural needs that aren’t on IEPs nor supported by aides or learning assistance. If we want to have technology (e.g., computers, SMART Boards, support for children with special needs, specialised personnel and personalised (not “personalized” as the Ministry misspelled on the website) learning, we need to fund it. (google: BC Ministry of Education Special Education Manual and learn)
    The education system is facing chronic stress. As a counsellor in the elementary system, the stripping of our contracts has directly impacted children. For example, there is to be a minimum of one counsellor for every 624 children. In our district, I am one for 1400. Many that have written on this blog might be thinking, “quit whining”. I am guessing you don’t deal Crack, nor beat your children or have had your children witness their dad commit suicide. I am also assuming you don’t counsel children whose peer was murdered or committed suicide, or whose parents are alcoholics, rage at their children and so on. These children are all in our system, and we do the best we can to work together with parents, the experts of their children. Should I refer children and their families to Child and Youth Mental Health (CYMH)? Some are referred on but the government has a hiring freeze on them. CYMH are as taxed as we are. So, we do the best we can. I know all teachers are not wonderful but I’ve seen some pretty amazing ones… just like any profession or workplace. I feel like the government doesn’t really know what happens on the front line. So, I wonder if we, as a society, value integration. I wonder if we treasure all children no matter what their disability. I wonder. P.S. I don’t care if I get a raise. I’d just like to see children receive better support. P.P.S. Hang in there, Bob. Our house isn’t even worth 300k and we suffered with interest rates of 10-12 %.

    • J Says:

      Thank you for your contributions Rita. You have added some very valid points that have not been mentioned. We are all privileged to have you working in our public education system. Thank you.

      • Lois Says:

        Well said, Reta! As a teacher at one of the schools on your caseload, and as a Board member for a non-profit agency which works with children and families referred by CYMH, I can attest to every one of your points. This is the reality of what we deal with every day.

  343. JG Says:

    I cannot BELIEVE the amount of ignorant replies I’ve read on this blog. Those of you who think teachers don’t do a “real job” – I invite you to volunteer in a local classroom for one day and tell me that we don’t have “real jobs” – keep in mind you would only be volunteering, not actually participating in an entire day of teaching.
    If you could read and comprehend effectively, which many of you have proven that you aren’t able to, then you would know by now that teachers DON’T CARE about a raise – we DO care about our students and the lack of support in our system.
    Get a life and stop bashing the people who are educating the future of BC.

    • Jules Says:

      Well said! I hate the mentality that people who work in the service sector are so dehumanized! The attitude of “let’s bash the people who “chose” to serve us is so archaic. Any labour dispute, union dispute is always twisted and villianized in the media and the masses follow.

  344. Well I am in a different situation, I no longer live in BC, or Canada for that matter. I am in fact in Thailand, here if I want my children to goto a public school it is very cheap but you get what you pay for. Basically no education, or one thats not really worth getting anyways.

    Some kids from the public school system here do alright but they are the exception not the rule. Instead I have to send my children to private school. Guess what no subsides for it, so I get to foot the entire $20,000 bill per kid myself for a year of education.

    If the private international schools here can make a profit, keeping a class size of 15, with no special needs students in the class. I would think that the BC government should be able to as well.

    I would also like to say the school my son goes to, has horses, free lunch, artificial turf soccer field, swimming pool, etc. all the teachers are westerners with proper qualifications and native English speakers.

    So my sons one little school with 100 students, paid for only by the parents can have that. But the government of BC who use to charge me upwards of 57% income tax can’t?

    It is very typical, you want to run something at a massive deficit with terrible inefficiency and basically screwing up at every turn?

    Let the government handle it.

    By the way, the school provides as much as they possibly can to the students, is internationally accredited, and doesn’t cut corners. Why? It is a competitive market, if they mess up I pull my kids out, move them to another school and they loose the business. You can argue it’s not a better system, but I would definitely disagree.

    • Jason P Says:

      My only concern with the “competitive market” is that children will be left behind. That’s why we have a society that, in theory anyway, values public education and we accept that our taxes will pay for it. It’s great that you can afford $20,000 per year per kid for their education. There are people who barely make above that for their entire income in Canada. If we have a “fend for themselves” attitude or a “drag them down to my level” attitude like some others on this forum, what do you think we’ll be left with?

  345. Aiglet Says:

    Mrs. A;

    As one of your former pupils, I bestow upon you my full support. As I currently pay thousands of dollars a year to fall asleep in uncomfortable theater chairs and try to absorb drab details in my sleep, I long for the fun and inspiring learning environment you were able to provide for my peers and I. Ten years later, I can look back and honestly say you are great at your craft, and it saddens me to hear the pain you and your students suffer due to the limitations you described. Keep fighting the good fight.

    And by the way, if you do read this, I just want you to know that you are hands down the WORST Silent Ball referee ever. I’ll never get over that.

  346. Tom Says:

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

  347. Socrates Says:

    Thanks for the heartfelt post. Here is a video that might remind you that we need not be afraid once we see what is really behind the curtain.

  348. grandpa Says:

    JG – Put your organization(BCTF) where your mouth is and instruct them to take the monetary demands off the table and I’ll believe that you don’t care about the money. Then we can quickly get a deal done and you can rally the communities around you for support for investment in infrastructure. If you guys really aren’t chasing the money why is your representative stuck on getting money.
    Either you have a poor understanding of the union demands or your union does not really represent its members. You can not have your cake and eat it to.

  349. HH Says:

    Thank you so much for being brave enough to say what many of us have been thinking. From one ocean to another, let me tell you that things are no different on the East Coast. As a parent and a teacher, it scares me that children are so undervalued in this equation. Keep fighting the good fight!

  350. Karen S. Says:

    While I have not read all of the responses here, I wanted you to know that teachers are taking notice! I am reading shares from two FB pages of teaching friends here in Nova Scotia.

    Our fight is underway as the NDP government takes aim at funding. We in Nova Scotia have faced 65-70 million in cuts to education in two years and it is most definitely affecting all students drastically. It is time that the public learned what “cuts” translate into when it comes to learning and the impact they are having at every level.

    Education in Canada is in crisis from coast to coast!

  351. Bill norris Says:

    Growing up I had the privilege of experiencing education in both the public and private systems.

    Today, I have a daughter who is an elementary teacher. Somewhere between the age of 5 to 7, her mother and I knew that this was the profession for which she had been created. We sacrificed for her (and her brother) to be trained / educated to be able to fulfill their callings. As a qualified teacher she has choices as to where she taught – she could have chosen to be in the private system but chose the public system as she wanted to work with inner city kids to give them a greater chance at life and education is a key component for them. She spends her own money to provide materials for her kids so they can have a proper learning environment! I never had to provide my own office supplies in my career!

    I support her unreservedly. The state of our education system plays a large part in what our future society will look like. We need contributing adults that will care what they have been given and will care for those who gave it to them.

    I have seen our public education system slowly be eroded and like many I have been that frog in the kettle – when the water was cold it was fine but slowly it has been warmed up (government actions) until today when the water is truly hot for those who fund (taxpayers) and those who work in the system.

    So, questions from me – a supporter of my daughter – but arguably a person who does not fully understand today’s current public education system.

    Why is it that the government has made and enforced the system changes it has? I have not seen / heard a rational review of the last 15 years and today we have a boiling kettle.

    Why is it that the BCTF and BC government remain such ‘dinosaur’s’ in the way they negotiate. Today’s world of progressive unions and management is one of ‘interest based’ negotiation. Why can’t they get there and why do they respond so immaturely toward each other?

    Why does the BCTF not accept the world of performance management which is the norm?

    Why does the government not accept that our teachers need to be compensated properly, given proper supply / materials budget and why don’t the teachers accept that they need to be held accountable for their performance?

    Why does the BCTF not recognize that there are economic realities in play?

    Why does it seem like the BCTF protects teachers who are not committed to teaching but have other motives so that the profession (and yes it is a profession) is held in high repute and not sullied by the many instances of abuse by a few teachers of students?

    Sorry for the rant but I see problems on both sides that together do not help that most important need to provide the best possible education to the children who are the citizen’s of tomorrow.

    I would walk the line with the teachers but with a sign that encourages both them and the government to grow up and

  352. Ray Fancy Says:

    Holy Crap. Is really all I have to say at the moment. I have now read almost all of the posts, replies, and the replies to the replies.

    I am a Graduate of THSS, and living in Maple Ridge. I am also engaged. My Fiancee and I have also been talking about starting a family. Both of us have always said that we want our kids put through public school.

    We are on the side of the teachers, through-out this whole debate, and I am not afraid who knows it. We are fighting not only for the children now, but also for the sakes of the future generations. The conditions that present day teachers AND students work in today is ridiculous. Where teachers cannot possibly help every single student in the ways that they need, and students are not getting the proper care and attention they need to learn accurately.

    I cannot speak towards the parents sides of things at present, as I am merely aspiring to one day become a parent. But I can sure imagine the anger and frustration on either side. Most of the parents are just not sure of what is going on, and knowledge is power. Without knowledge, you feel powerless to help/stop anything. This causes people to be angry, upset and creates the need to blame others. In the end, its the same battle.

    We need to fight together. If we do that, we will be heard.

    Thanks for writing this Cheryl. I have also passed it on via Facebook.

  353. chris Says:

    Do you prefer higher taxes or more debt?

    Also, could you list the demands of the union and the benefit for students for each demand?

    thanks

    ps, what is your take on the Italy/Greece situation?

  354. Michael Says:

    Well written and informative letter Cheryl. Is there a web site where we could go to see what the teachers union is asking for and what the government is offering?

    I no longer have children in the system but do have a son in-law that is a TOC and a sister in-law that is a Special needs TA in Nanaimo so have a vested interest. I am also a tax payer like all of you and would like to know that my dollars are meeted out fairly.

    Does all the blame fall on the provincial government for your appauling conditions in Poco or does some of that fall on your municipal goverment? Perhaps you could educate all of us as to how the money flows. All I know is that my municipal goverment collects school taxes and my Federal/Provincial government takes my money in many other ways.

    Looking forward o your reply.

  355. Charlie Braun Says:

    This is one very impressive letter. I’m not a resident of Canada nor am I a teacher but I must say that if the conditions are that bad then to call them deplorable is a compliment. It’s a shame that politicians can’t or won’t go to schools that are suffering and see first hand what they’re lack of support and misguided attempts at fixing the problems are doing to school systems and see how the students are the ultimate loser’s. It wouldn’t hurt to have the backing of the parents of these students either. Since I’m not a resident of Canada I don’t know how your school systems operate but here, in the U.S., if there is an issue like you described in your letter parents and teachers would go to the local Board of Education and address the issues. Best of luck in your fight to improve your situation. If other teachers and parents were half as passionate about the conditions in the schools as you are things could improve dramatically.

  356. Hi Cheryl, so many of my thoughts in response to your blog have already been written above. You are a tremendous writer who has captured the whole picture and have expressed it beautifully. I do hope and I will be positive about your blog being read in the legislature. Thank you 100 times. Michelle

  357. Troy Says:

    Im with you! Im a paramedic of the bc ambulance service and have been forced to work the last two years with no contract and denied my right for job action due to this governments love for legislating essential services. Something needs to change!

  358. bulavenaka Says:

    Papershuffling for teachers may vary from place to place but please realize that in many cases, this assistance is absolutely necessary. Take for example a very large student population. Timing, preparation, distribution and collection of report cards, fees, school information and administrative processes can be a logistic nightmare without the assistance of teachers. I would hope that teachers don’t mind the occasional papershuffling in order to help facilitate a well-run school.

    Gradually, online documents are replacing thousands of mailouts. Some schools try to save money wherever they can. Eventually it is my hope that online payments could be put into effect, eliminating the need for teachers to collect fees. Is this being considered? Communication between parents and teachers? More options and more efficient methods. Many parents are on email, but how can they access a teacher? There are always privacy issues between parties.

    Is it only teaching that makes for a great student experience? It is my hope that the efforts of ALL school employees enrich a student and contribute to their learning. From the engineer up to our Principal.

    To think that administrators would house all of these students in one room and be supervised by either themselves or school support workers? This tells me what teachers think of their support workers – simply child care workers? Rather insulting. Administrators and school support workers are not solely responsible to supervise students during the strike. It is advisable to keep students at home, unless there is no child care available for them.

    I am not an administrator. I am a mother who has worked at a school office for over 15 years. I’ve seen what it takes to run a great school. It takes ALL of us….parents, students, teachers, school support and administration. Resolution begins with understanding.

  359. Wendy Says:

    Conditions that you describe do indeed seem challenging. However, as a parent and a taxpayer, I must say that what I’ve heard of the requested items in the bargaining do not have anything to do with rectifying the items you so passionately speak of. How is 15 days bereavement leave for someone not even a family member going to fix your classroom? How is a 15% wage increase going to provide more textbooks? If this issue was about the students and the state of the classrooms – you would have my unwavering support. However, the Union has decided to be unrealistic in a world where everyone realizes economic hardship. Finally, is it not correct to state that you do have paid summers – it’s just that your annual salary is paid to you over 10 months instead of 12?

  360. Jennifer Says:

    Thank you for writing this… I have spoken to my MLA, who assured me that teachers have won concessions, and we are still protected under the existing contract. That in 2013 teachers will be able to address classroom composition… It’s just not good enough

  361. reality Says:

    A little bit of reality needs to come into this situation. If you took the total of number hours worked divided by the average yearly pay of a teacher. I’m sure that it would come out to more per hour then other trade professions. The people out of work is the highest it;s been in years and this not only makes the tax income of the province less. It also creates a financial problem having to pay out more ei premiums. Maybe teachers should be happy that they have a job. It is the public sector workers that generate positive cash flow for the Government to pay for the teachers. Not one Government agency has ever had a positive cash flow for the government. I feel your letter is a little far fetched. It’s a feel sorry for me letter.

  362. Susan Beatty Says:

    Wow! The replies are fantastic!
    I have been teaching for 35 years. My belief is that there should be three groups protected by the government… SENIORS…CHILDREN…SPECIAL NEEDS!

  363. Kayla Says:

    This is an accurate and heart-wrenching letter. I graduated from a rural high school (around 420 teens, grades 7-12) going on 5 years now, and I can remember the conditions my teachers had to work through. I was disgusted with some of the actions of my own peers, with 30-37 of us in a class it never seemed easy. I really hope conditions start improving for everything within the education system: the students, the teachers, the parents, everyone. Thank you for writing this, Cheryl, and I will be forwarding this to my local MLA’s and the federal level as well, along with sharing it on my facebook and twitter pages. Thank you!!!

    –Sending positive thoughts from Nova Scotia

  364. Concerened parent Says:

    I have no desire to pick fights with anyone, and I don’t care whose job is tougher, and I completely agree that changes need to be made in our schools for no child should have to go to class wearing a jacket just to stay warm or have a ceiling fall on them or no text books (problem in my own sons classroom)…however that being said I have a issue with being told that the the parents and government are solely responsible for our child’s lack of education. At what point are the teachers going to take on at least some onus for the quality of our children’s education. When my son is given an assignment (that he is not being paid to do) in class his teacher insists he take all responsibility for workload…no “the dog ate my homework” allowed, it is a do your work or suffer the bad grade…So why do some teachers not hold this to themselves…I believe in the old adage that there are no poor students only poor teachers…I do hope you win your battle but more importantly I am hoping my child does not fail simply because his teachers are not willing to teach him. After all isn’t that why you became teachers to begin with…Good Luck

    PS. I am also writing to the government with concerns of the state of our schools and education system in general…for I am on no ones side except my child

  365. Gustav Says:

    Well said Cheryl! I am passing this letter onto my staff as we walk over the next three days!! We do need to stick together for ourselves and for our students. No one knows how hard our jobs are until they have done them!! Your students are lucky to have you!!

  366. Willingtobeimpressed Says:

    Cheryl – Why haven’t we heard more from you. On the 29th you responded to your many supporters very quickly. Over the past 2 days many blogers who have read your post have asked some very valid questions but you have not responded. I would like to see your response to those questions. Here are some that interest me:
    1. Where can we go to get factual details on what the BCTF has put on the table as your side of the negotiating situation. In post # 311 Michelle suggests that the total increased compensation and benefits requested are over 2 billion dollars. Is this true. Where can we find out.
    2. Many teachers have said that this dispute is not about the money. Why are the BCTF demands so onerous.
    3. You have stated that you can not negotiate class size or composition, school building repair, supplies etc and yet when asked why this is the main thrust of your complaint/commentary you have not responded.
    4. Why does the BCTF protect incompetent teachers. If you really do care about the quality of education provided to our children your organization should want to eliminate incompetency, lack of care and lack of motivation. DON”T try to blame your employer, if any teacher continues to go to work and collect a paycheck and accept responsiblity for a class full of students THAT should be sufficient motivation to do their best ALL the time. Don’t tell us there is already a working system to deal with incompetency etc, it doesn’t work and we all know it.

    Cheryl your letter has attracted a lot of attention. It will obviously be supported by most teachers and also by many others whose hearts are captured by your rendition of the deplorable circumstances. However that is not enough. To really garner support outside of the teaching community you need to answer the very valid questions posed by the general public.

    • Cheryl Angst Says:

      I apologize for not being able to keep up with replying to every comment as I did on the day the blog post went up. There were over 7,000 visits to my blog on the 29th, and I spent more than four hours that evening attempting to reply to every single comment. When I woke up on March 1st, there were already more than 5,000 visits and nearly as many comments as on all of the 29th. I had to work all day on the 1st. By the time I got home, there were close to 40,000 visits and comments were coming in faster than I could read and moderate, let alone reply to. In the end, there were close to 53,000 visits to, and several hundred comments on my blog that day.

      I have been doing my best to reply to the personal emails that have also poured in. With a little over four dozen, it seemed like a far more manageable task than attempting to reply to the more than 500 blog comments. (And to those who haven’t received a reply to their emails yet, I’