--> Getting It Right: Who's right? BCTF and Provincial Standoff...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Who's right? BCTF and Provincial Standoff...

So much for the long, hot days of August – in the education system, things are just starting to heat up.

Which begs the question - who is playing politics with our children and who is trying to build a system that will meet student needs over the next decade?

Is it the teacher’s unions, including the BCTF, who, according the Elections BC, spent over $1.5 million dollars of their member’s money in the provincial election trying to defeat the government? Or is it that same government who played the fear card of an imminent teacher strike in the dying days of the campaign?

Putting aside the BCTF lawsuit brought over the Premier’s allegation that the BCTF was considering job action (which now looks pretty ridiculous given that there IS a strike vote happening on September 20th to 22nd), let’s try to clear through the rhetoric and see if we can figure out where the truths lies.

The starting position of any discussion around education in our province must be this – every single player in this debate has the best interests of our children at heart. Period. To saw anything else is inflammatory and doesn’t serve the best interests of anyone – especially our kids.

The teachers, the government, parents, and Minister of Education Shirley Bond, all want to build an education system that is sustainable over the long-haul.

But, it wouldn’t be politics in BC if they didn’t disagree on the methods required to achieve this great goal, sometimes vehemently with the requisite packed lines on call-in shows and early morning placard-waving on the bridges.

The BCTF contends the system is in chaos and disrepair and that our children are suffering in classrooms that are just not able to meet their needs. They protest that the removal of class-size limits and the reduction of 2500 full-time teaching positions are leaving our children vulnerable to sub-standard educations. And, to be fair, they really do need a contract.

The government, of course, has an entirely different perspective. They feel that increases in the budget – over 10% in five years – and the highest ever level of per student funding are critical improvements to budgets that stagnated under the NDP government.

79% of BC students graduate from high school – again a record. BC students are among the best in the world in math, reading and science in a recently released Programme for International Student Assessment.

Clearly our system is working and our teachers are doing a heck of a good job in teaching our children. Let’s give them credit they deserve and get them their contract.

So, to revisit the BCTF issues… Fewer teachers? Well, there are 30,000 fewer students due to our aging population. And the average elementary school class size? 23.2 students - up a whopping 0.6 of a student from 2000-01 number of 22.5 students. Hardly an indication that schools are going to hell in a hand basket.

Can the government and the BCTF work together to build an even better system? Absolutely – there is always room for improvement. But the BCTF had better get some stronger arguments in place if they are going to initiate job action and truly jeopardize the school year for our kids.

Students don’t deserve politics getting in the way of their educations.

As seen today in 24 Hours Daily.


At 5:40 p.m., Blogger darcey said...

Great information - what do you think of the latest studies that state that smaller class sizes are no better than large ones?

At 2:22 a.m., Blogger Jarrett said...

Darcey: Every teacher I've talked to said that "Well, there are some things you can't prove in studies."

It depends on the kids, all-in-all. (As a 20-year-old, I'd like to think I have a little fresher perspective on it than most.) I can remember classes of 25 kids that were hell on earth because they were filled with ninnies who only attended because their friends were there... and in university, I've had a fabulous (and enriching) time in classes of 200+ people.

And it's funny they should point out such small class sizes in elementary school. When I was a wee one (I basically started elementary school at the beginning of the Mike Harcourt Era), all classes had 29-31 students. Grades 1-12, it was just a given. It stayed like that, with the exception of key, unpopular elective classes in high school (French 12 - 6 people!), until I graduated in 2003.

At 9:20 a.m., Blogger darcey said...

Thanks - I've experienced the same thing. If I can remember I think my first classes were around the same range.

At 9:08 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn’t agree more. All of my classes were far, far larger than what the BCTF is winning about today, and more despicable is the reality that average elementary class sizes have increased by less than a single student. Every time I hear the BCTF cry that learning conditions should return to 2002 conditions I say let’s do it. All we need to do is roll back the 7.5% wage increase and put all of that money back into the classroom and problems solved. What they really want is bargaining conditions restored to 2002 levels. The BCTF couldn’t give a crap about the kids, if they did they would NOT oppose the sexual predator registry.

Somehow the BCTF fails to mention that in 2002 the average wage around the Province was $ 57,000 - that figure in most every district is now up to $ 64,000. Let’s not also forget that thanks to the tax cuts someone in that bracket is saving an extra $ 1,000 in taxes as well. So you have an extra $ 8,000 a year for a job where you only work 10 months and have your summers off. The BCTF is swimming in so much cash, they can spend millions trying to misinform the public.

Per student funding actually rose more since 2001 than it did in the entire NDP decade. Same for the BCTF wages – more increases since 2001 than the NDP gave then in 10 years. And still they bitch, complain, and whine. It’s time that the government stood up to the BCTF and said no more. Until this Union of clowns is ready to be honest and truthful with the public they get nothing. If they want to get into politics than get out of the classroom and put your name up on the ballot box where the politics belong.

The BCTF is out of control and as the public it is time we took back our school system from these self serving ideologues who try to hide behind our kids to further their own political agendas.

At 12:05 p.m., Anonymous Larry said...

When the BCTF and minority activists groups want more financial funding from governments, rather than saying from the government, say instead- ["from the tax payers"]. Perhaps this true method would convince the BCTF and the many minority activist groups, governments have no money. The money of course is from citizens tax payers and business taxes. Some organizations should at times raise financial funds by other means, be inventive theirs ways, need not always do the give me, give me from government. Government is for society order and protection not mommy and daddy. Only the left-power mad Fed-Liberals want to be daddy and mommy with others tax money of course.

At 1:23 a.m., Anonymous James Wanless said...

Agreed that all parties want what's best for our children. Unfortunately, the BCTF arguments are framed by what's also good for them and the employer's association, the same.

In public service contracts, I think we have to move toward mediation and arbitration and away from continual threats of strike. In other words, I believe in strong unions, but key public sector services like health and education is no place for strikes.

With the labour relations hearing going on now, we are obviously headed toward some kind of disruption.

I agree that this shouldn't be allowed to happen.


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