Do teachers want to strike? No! Do teachers like to strike? No! We were forced to strike. The children of British Columbia, are not and should never be a commodity.
Education is not and should never be a business. To have an educated, prosperous society you must invest in all of society’s children. Public school evens the playing field and allows opportunity for all children to succeed and is not dependent on their family’s socioeconomic status.
When the government takes tax dollars and supports the already privileged part of society in private schools, they put at risk the chance for many BC children to reach their potential. Money that should be earmarked for all children has been steadily eroding away and filtered into private schools little by little each year.
Teachers in BC public schools already subsidize so much that many parents believe it is the norm. Buying food for students, paying for field trips and classroom supplies are only some of the cost items teachers pay for year in and year out. We do this because when our students can’t afford things, we as teachers, know they can’t afford to miss out.
Volunteering extra time for coaching sports, hosting clubs, fund raising and field trips that happen outside school hours are other items that often go unnoticed and time is not compensated. Non teaching duties that are required and take up teachers time, such as money collections for PAC sponsored activities and field trips, collecting forms, district committee meetings, organizing special events and helping students with life are just some of what makes up our day outside the contact teaching time. We all need to think hard about how we want to treat and support children so that they can reach their potential. Inclusion is about giving every child a rich opportunity with their peers and it must be supported by having numbers and composition of classes that support learning for all the learners in that class. It is teachers, fighting for these families that often cannot fight for themselves. Public education should not be for sale, this year or ever.
In a previous contract, teachers gained the legally contracted right to have smaller classes and had a say in how many at risk students make up that class. Because of this, learning conditions for all students improved.
When the Liberal government passed a bill after that contract they in fact tore up the signed contract, which took away those learning conditions. Teachers gave up a wage increase back then to gain that language and now this same Liberal government wants teachers to back down? No. No way, not after the courts deemed that contract legal and binding, not once but twice. We deserve to have that legally bargained language that supports learners, which gives ALL children a chance. Teachers will stand strong with the BC Court decisions against a bullying government.
Thank you to all the public who honks for us, gives us a wave, stand on the line with us and every other act of kindness you have shown. It really does matter.
We appreciate those of you who understand why this is our only avenue of action. We will continue to support those of you who support us.
So while we wait for the third court decision about class size and composition, that is being funded for by your tax dollars, from the BC Supreme Court, we will continue to look for that support from the public, because all children matter. That’s why we care so much.
Public pressure at every level of government is what now has to take place. If you value the fundamental right of public education for everyone, please call your school trustees, your MLA, the Minister of Education and the Premier of this province (before she leaves for Asia) and let them know that education for the children of BC should be funded adequately and that court decisions should matter.
Remember we, the taxpayers of BC, are paying for all those appeals by the government.
Kim & Rick McKinnon