Posts tagged ‘B.C.’

September 11, 2014

Why Teachers Fear the Worst of Clark Government

Signs mount that union busting, privatized schooling are true agenda.

By Tom Kertes| Published September 10, 2014 by TheTyee.ca

Today, public school teachers in British Columbia will vote to end their job action if the government agrees to leave the issues of class size and class compensation to the courts. Both parties are almost on the same page when it comes to wages and contract length, but regardless the government continues to say the two are miles apart, and continues to refuse to participate in binding arbitration.

Why this government is so adamantly against making any deal with teachers, other than a deal that essentially amounts to the B.C. Teachers’ Federation giving up its court case, giving up on wages and giving up on any issue of importance to its members, is what everyone watching this dispute is asking.

The point of government is to work within a system of balanced power that supports the community as a whole. One way to do this is through public education, which provides schooling on an equal and equitable basis and with public oversight. Public education, in contrast to private education, is universally accessible. Every child in B.C. has a right to education, a right respected by government through the provision of schools supported by shared taxation. In contrast, a privatized system — like the system of private schools already in place for some students — starts with barriers to entry. Parents need to be able to afford it, or the child must be deemed worthy of entry, for example to receive a school scholarship.

A concern for all supporters of public education is that the BC Liberals will introduce either a charter system, where public dollars are diverted from a public system to one composed of publicly-funded, for-profit, special-interest or religious schools. If this government wants to use the strike as a wedge issue to pull support from the public schools or as a weapon to break the teachers’ union, then we may end up with the worst possible scenario, where our public system gets dumped for a private one. The government may do this because it opposes union influence over the school system, because its supporters are either seeking to profit or to proselytize through a new system, or simply because it wants to put its own stamp on the system.

Whatever the reason, B.C. cannot afford to lose the public benefits that only a public school system provides.

Read more: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/09/10/Teachers-Clark-Govt-Fear/

Advertisements
September 6, 2014

Hey, premiers, leave them teachers alone!

By Robert Green | Published Sept 1 2014 by Ricochet

The beginning of the school year should be a time of great optimism and excitement for teachers. We’re energized by seeing our colleagues again and excited to meet the students we’ll be teaching for the year. Our thoughts should be focused on making our classrooms more welcoming, our lessons more engaging and our contributions to our school community more meaningful.

Unfortunately, for too many teachers across Canada the positive feelings that normally accompany the beginning of the school year will be overshadowed by more negative sentiments: uncertainty, frustration, anger and above all the feeling of being profoundly disrespected.

British Columbia

Nowhere is this more true than in BC. The province’s teachers have been on the picket line since the spring as part of the latest chapter in an exasperating decades-long struggle with the province’s Liberal government. The bad faith demonstrated by the government over the course of this struggle boggles the mind. While the media wants to malign BC teachers as greedy, the heart of this dispute has always been about protecting quality of education for students by reducing class size. After teachers gave up salary concessions in the nineties in order to win class-size reductions (greedy bastards!) the BC Liberals went on to unilaterally remove these provisions from their contract in 2002.

read more »

September 1, 2014

Why BC teachers can’t sign with E80 on the table.

Published August 31, 2014 by Voices for BC Education

Imagine a client hires you for a job. The pay isn’t great but the work is steady and you like the hours.

A little while later they come back and tell you that the scope of the job has grown substantially and they understand you can’t do it alone so they let you hire a team of 10 people. With 10, you can do the job, just. It’s more challenging but you agree.

As time goes by they stop paying some of your team. You find yourself with a skeleton crew. You go to head office and tell them what is happening. They tell the client they have to pay for the 10 people they agreed to hire.

The client comes back saying they won’t and tries to rewrite the terms of your agreement. You stop working. They stop paying.

They come back to you and say… we will hire you back, just you, not your team. The condition? They will hire you if and only if you agree to sign this document that says “Should head office decide more people are needed to complete the job, either party can tear up the contract.” and the client doesn’t have to hire more people.

Would you do the job?

 E80 is asking us to agree to let the government decide if they will abide by the court rulings.  It’s giving them the right to tear up our contract if they don’t like what the courts have to say. Would you agree to that? Would you go back to work?

Teachers want to be in the classroom. They want to be teaching but they can’t if E80 is part of the deal.

Tags:
August 30, 2014

What’s Jamming Teacher Bargaining?

Sources say Clark gov’t insists on clauses insulating it from another Supreme Court loss.

By Crawford Kilian | Published 25 Aug 2014 by TheTyee.ca

The long summer stall in teacher bargaining may be due to terms the government is insisting on including in the next contract, The Tyee has learned. One proposed clause, apparently a major sticking point, appears to stem from the legal, financial and political bind the BC Liberals face after rulings against them by the B.C. Supreme Court.

While a media blackout continues, information received (not from anyone bargaining on either side) suggests that “one of the major stumbling blocks in the contract that the government wants the teachers to sign is that there is language/wording that virtually recreates all the conditions set out in Bills 27, 28 and 22.”

Bills 27 and 28, passed by the Gordon Campbell Liberal government in 2002 when Christy Clark was education minister, effectively tore up the contract teachers had been working under, and removed class size and composition from the bargaining table.

In 2011 the BC Supreme Court declared the bills unconstitutional. It gave the government one year to make amends, and in 2012 Victoria introduced Bill 22, effectively restoring what the Supreme Court had rejected.

Read more: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/08/25/Teacher-Bargaining-Jams/

Tags:
August 20, 2014

WHY I’M ON THE PICKET LINE

By Tara Ehrcke | Published by Our Times

Excerpt:

Yes, I believe I deserve a raise. But, just like other teachers, that isn’t the main reason I voted yes to strike. A society is measured by how it treats everyone. This includes the poor, the disenfranchised, the “ordinary.” In British Columbia, children of poor and working-class families get overcrowded in underfunded schools. The children who need the most from education — the hungry, the hurt, the struggling ones — get the least. In contrast, the ones whose parents can pay get the most.

The “public” in public school shouldn’t mean just providing a building, with some tired teachers to deliver a curriculum, the success of which is measured by standardized tests. A good public school system should provide high quality opportunities to every single child. While our public schools have many wonderful programs and many dedicated teachers, the sad truth is that there are also overcrowded classrooms, children falling behind, and a workforce exhausted from trying to fill in the gaps.

Read more: http://ourtimes.ca/Between_Times/article_356.php

Tags: ,
July 2, 2014

British Columbia teachers’ strike – Let’s keep our eyes on the prize

By Tara Ehrcke | Published June 28 by rankandfile.ca

Two weeks into a full scale strike and teachers in BC are holding the line. In fact, the resolve at the pickets is stronger than ever. Teachers know that after 12 years, we cannot return to a contract that doesn’t address class size and class composition–meaning also teachers’ working conditions.

Teachers are also increasingly frustrated with the blatant hypocrisy of the government.

Since the strike was announced two weeks ago, the government has continued to prevaricate and frustrate. First, it went to the Labour Relations Board to have the marking of Grade 12 exams deemed an essential service. It was successful with this application. Secondary teachers are required to try and produce marks despite the disruption caused by the lockout and strike. Many teachers are angered that they did not have sufficient time to properly mark and assess student work.

Next, the government went back to the LRB to seek a declaration that grade 10 and 11 marks are essential. What they got was an order that school administrators would produce these marks and teachers would have 48 hours to “verify” them. In some districts, only the marks from the pre-strike term will be used. In others, term marks were averaged. And in one district, marks were “bumped up” to the next grade level for certain grade ranges. So, for example, any student with a 40 – 49% would receive a 50% passing grade. The government also announced that the English 10 and Social Studies 11 provincial exams would be modified to remove most of the written answers. This was done to appease the administrators who have been called in to mark the exams in place of striking teachers. Secondary teachers were rightly angered at a government that made such a mockery of assessing student performance and would hence undermine the credibility of our education system.

Read more:http://rankandfile.ca/2014/06/28/bc-teachers-keep-your-eyes-on-the-prize/

June 28, 2014

Teacher Strikes Make British Columbia Better

By Michael Stewart | Published by Rabble.ca June 20, 2014

Excerpt:

All enemies of labour would like to colour contract negotiations in the crassest terms: how much? This impulse even impacts how unions enter into bargaining — over-emphasizing how wage increases are not the real issue (even though they often are — and why not?) and governing much of the public relations battle large unions are now tasked with in a public increasingly hostile to collective bargaining rights.

But teachers — teachers are different. It’s okay to say it. Or maybe it’s better to say that things are different when it comes to teachers. First of all, the notion that teachers are only in it for the money just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. This is particularly true in B.C. where a whole generation of teachers have only known underfunding and job precarity. Teachers undergo six years of schooling, sometimes more, to enter a workforce where annual layoffs are commonplace while mainstream media derides them and their profession on a daily basis — all this for a starting salary $3000 less than the national average in Canada’s most expensive province. Yeah, they’re probably not in it for the money.

Read more:http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/michael-stewart/2014/06/teacher-strikes-make-british-columbia-better

Tags:
June 20, 2014

Teachers deserve public’s support

BY MARK LEMSTRA | Published JUNE 19, 2014 by THE STARPHOENIX

Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions.

Teachers are stressed out today. On the one hand, they have a government that recently has unilaterally imposed multiple changes on their working conditions. The latest contract offer was rejected not only because it included insufficient remuneration, but because all other components essential to working and learning conditions would be negotiated at a later date.

On the other hand, teachers are represented by a federation that is having problems communicating the incredible challenges that face learning environments.

Some of the unilateral decisions by government include reducing the number of educational assistants, attempting to introduce standardized testing with no evidence to support it, and making top-down changes to curriculum by ministry officials who are too far removed from the classroom. In the media, however, the main discussion point is wages. Teachers’ recently refused a four-year offer with a 7.3 per cent increase, but this needs more explanation.

Their previous contract was for 985 hours of total assigned time for teaching as well as other duties such as preparation and staff development. Last year, the government unilaterally mandated a minimum 950 hour instruction time. Assuming teachers only worked this minimum, that would leave just 35 hours a year for all other duties.

Read more: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/touch/story.html?id=9953324

Tags:
June 17, 2014

Support B.C. teachers’ battle against unlawful education cuts

June 9, 2014

BC Teachers’ Strike – Teachers’ working conditions are students learning conditions!

On June 9th and 10th BC Teachers are voting for all out strike as the government continues to negotiate.

Published June 6, 2014 by SocialistAlternative.ca

The Liberal government of British Columbia continues its long attack on public education and teachers. Yet again the government refuses to seriously negotiate with the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), refuses to address the real needs of children and escalates the dispute with the union.

After provoking disputes in schools for over a decade the government said it wanted peace in the class room with the preposterous proposal of a 10 year contract, while at the same time refusing to negotiate on the many real class room problems. Now teachers, whose contracts expired in June 2013, are involved in strike action with teachers on strike one day a week in each school district of the province.

After 14 months of failed negotiations the BCTF conducted a membership ballot in March 2014 for industrial action. The result was overwhelming with 89% of the votes in favour of action – over 75% of all teachers voted yes. Meanwhile, the BC liberals were re-elected in 2013 with only 44% of the vote on a 58% turnout!

As the BC government still did not move, on April 22nd the BCTF started a province wide work-to-rule job action (non-participation in most meetings or communication with school administrators and no extra-curricular volunteering for more than an hour before or after school). This had little or no impact on students, the main impact was on the administration.

On May 15th Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the government would be stepping away from its demand that the BC Federation of Teachers (BCTF) sign a 10-year term contract and offered a $1,200 signing bonus. However, the following day he threatened to roll back teachers’ wages 5%.

The BCTF responded with announcing escalated job action in the form of province-wide rotating strikes. On May 21st government negotiators countered with a partial lock-out and a 10% wage reduction. Since May 26th the lockout has barred teachers from working more than 45 minutes prior to class time, during recess and lunch hour and beyond 45 minutes after school.

Read more: http://socialistalternative.ca/posts/1044

May 27, 2014

Dear Parent of the Average Child – One Teacher’s Confession

| Published May 21, 2014 by What I Learned in School Today

Dear Parent of the Average Child,
I’m sorry. Your child is wonderful.  She is always at school on time, does her homework most everyday, works well on her own and is patient with those around her.  I really wanted  to go tell your daughter how proud of her I was of the work she was doing today.
I was about to but you see I had a young girl  over in the corner crying because she hadn’t had breakfast. Another was tromping around the classroom in winter boots. It’s May. When I asked her to change she told me she didn’t have any other shoes. I needed to send them and my CEA down to the office to see if we had some food and any extra shoes in lost and found.
Oh and over in the other corner there was a  boy screaming at the top of his lungs because, well no one is sure why. He is on a list to see a specialist, they hope to have a plan in place for him soon. Of course it has been 3 months, but the specialist teacher is overworked and only at our school a few days a week so we have to be patient.
More children trickled in. One girl told me that her backpack is at Mom’s but she was at Dad’s last night. He forgot to send a lunch. She also wanted to tell me about her Dad’s new girlfriend but she told me I wasn’t  to tell mom because it’s was secret.  A young man tells me his cat died last night. Another lost a tooth! Exciting until he sees the blood, thenthe fear sets in.
May 7, 2014

Students’ Dreams Must Now Be ‘Data-driven’

That’s premier’s message as BC higher ed becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of big business.

By Crawford Kilian | Published 30 Apr 2014 by TheTyee.ca

Excerpt: 

We’re not talking about schools and universities any more; we’re talking about abstractions. It’s beyond me why a “data-driven system” should be a “major shift” from any school that keeps records. And schools have always been “outcome focused” — the whole point is to see the kids come out of school smarter and better informed than when they came in.

We’re not talking about changing; we’re re-engineering. And now we are spending taxpayers’ dollars not to meet taxpayers’ priorities, but those of the labour market. And that means jobs in demand; when demand slacks off, tough luck for anyone caught training in the wrong program.

North American education has struggled for years under an industrial metaphor: six-year-olds supposedly enter the assembly line as raw material and come out as usable young adults. But we are not cranking out Model Ts or toasters, and God help us if we turn our kids into such commodities.

However tempting it may be to worship the captains of industry, and to obey their every whim, we should remember that they live in the same moment we do, and they have no better idea than we do about what we should prepare for.

These are the same people who urged us to train more keypunch operators back in the 1980s. These are the guys like the Xerox executives who funded Xerox PARC’s invention of the modern computer, complete with mouse and graphic user interface. They were clueless about what they had, and sold it to an acid-dropping college dropout named Steve Jobs — who had really liked an artsy-fartsy course in calligraphy that helped the Mac conquer the world.

Read more: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/04/30/Student-Data-Driven-Dreams/

March 15, 2014

B.C. teachers’ math lesson: workers + labour rights = stability

By H.G. Watson | Published March 14, 2014 by Rabble.ca

Excerpt:

Unions have been fighting PR wars against governments for most of their existence. But in 2014, after years of people getting used to austerity measures in the name of stability, unions constantly bare the brunt of blame for any work disruption they take as part of trying to negotiate a collective agreement.

But when provincial and federal legislators are hacking away at democratic rights or threatening extended contracts with no ability to arbitrate, what choice is left for labour unions?

BCTF certainly see this as not just a labour issue, but a democratic issue. “The [B.C.] government believe that they can just violate constitution of the country,” said Iker. “And I think the public expects government to uphold the law not break the law.”

The irony, of course, is that if governments did actually come to the table in good faith and did what they were supposed to do, we would avoid uncertainty. Collective bargaining, as demonstrated in many instances over the years, does work if both sides can come to the table ready to talk.

Read more: http://rabble.ca/news/2014/03/bc-teachers-math-lesson-workers-labour-rights-stability

February 26, 2014

Stalled negotiations driving teacher strike vote in BC

By Katie Hyslop | Published February 25, 2014 by The Hook

The province’s 40,000 plus public teachers will take a strike vote on March 4 to 6 after over a year of negotiations with government that have gone nowhere.

In a press conference held at the BC Teachers’ Federation Vancouver headquarters this morning, President Jim Iker said negotiations with the BC Public School Employers Association (BCPSEA) went downhill last summer when government removed BCPSEA’s board and replaced it with Peter Cameron as director and negotiator.

“Up until this point, the 10-year deal was only a media sound bite,” Iker said, recalling Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender’s vocal support for a 10-year negotiated contract with teachers.

That summer the union held a membership vote on the prospect of a 10-year deal, and 96 per cent of teachers voted against it. But that fall the government tabled a 10-year deal anyway.

“Since the fall, Christy Clark’s government, through their appointed leaders at BCPSEA, is again trying to strip teachers working conditions and freeze wages,” said Iker.

“They propose nothing that teachers can agree to: not a single incentive for any deal, never mind a longer term deal. Every meeting we’ve had since December has seen the parties drive further and further apart as the government goes after unreasonable concessions.”

Read more: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2014/02/25/Stalled-negotiations-driving-teacher-strike-vote-union/#sthash.qxsELaOV.dpuf

January 30, 2014

Fallout from BCTF ruling is staggering

By Les Leyne | Published January 29, 2014 by The Times Colonist

The political aspect to this week’s Supreme Court decision on the B.C. Teachers Federation case is pretty clear.

It’s one of the most severe findings a court has issued about government conduct in years. The B.C. Liberals have been thrown for a big loss on the education front.

Justice Susan Griffin declared the government deliberately tried to secretly provoke a strike by the BCTF in 2012 to create a political advantage.

Low-grade BCTF job action that year was frustrating everyone. The government wanted to bring it to an end, by forcing the union’s hand. When the full school shutdown that the B.C. Liberals wanted didn’t happen, they increased the pressure on the union “so as to provoke a strike.” Why?

The judge said it was because it was so important to the government strategy, which was to win support for imposing legislation on teachers who were withdrawing some services on a kind of work-to-rule campaign.

There are no rhetorical denunciations in the judgment. The findings speak for themselves.

She ordered the government to pay the union $2 million for bad faith. Trust me, it got off easy.

It’s the practical effect of the decision that’s not yet clear. It appears to send the education system back to 2002, when class-size limits and strict formulas for teacher-librarians, specialists and requirements about class composition were all in the contract.

Read more: http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/les-leyne-fallout-from-bctf-ruling-is-staggering-1.805566