Teachers ask province to have a heart
Local teachers made their displeasure with the current state of contract talks known on Valentine’s Day, as they pleaded with the province to “have a heart.”
Teachers from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows hung more than 400 red paper hearts from the trees in front of School District No. 42’s offices in downtown Maple Ridge on Tuesday. Each heart contained a special message, spelling out how teaching and learning could be improved if respect and value for the profession improved, and if better funding was in place.
“I would love it if I had basic resources, such as textbooks, for every student in my class,” said one of the hearts.
“I would love to see special needs students get the daily support they need and deserve,” said another.
“Teachers love to teach, but we are no different than our colleagues around the province, in that we see the government needs to reinvest in teachers and students,” said Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association president George Serra.
Teachers across the province have been taking part in ongoing job action since September, when contract talks between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the province’s bargaining agent, the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, broke down last summer. Teachers have been without a contract since June.
Last week, education minister George Abbott appointed a senior bureaucrat to conduct a two-week inquiry to determine if a negotiated contract is possible.
“If the fact-finder determines that there is no prospect of agreement, then government would have to look at a legislated settlement in this matter,” Abbott said.
The BCTF has proposed a three-year contract that would see teachers given a 15 per cent increase over that span. BCTF estimates the contract will cost an extra $300 million per year, however BCPSEA pegs that number at upwards of $500 million in the first year alone.