It is time for truth, honesty, and fair play

This disgusting double-standard that is constantly forced down our throats is making me sick.

Editor, The News:

Re: Teachers ask trustees to take stand (The News, March 7).

First, I am not ‘pro’ union or ‘pro’ teacher. I  do, however, play by the rules and play fair.

This disgusting double-standard that is constantly forced down our throats is making me sick.

The B.C. Teachers, with the employer, went to the Labor Relations Board to get a ruling whether the teachers could strike and determine what the rules are around any strike action.

Now, as the teachers look like they are going out, what does the government want to do – move the goal posts.

The teachers took the government all the way to the Supreme Court last time, and the court ruled that the legislation put forth by the government then was unconstitutional.

But it looks like the B.C. Liberals will just do it again with Bill 22. Any way you look at it, it is just Big Brother bullying.

Teaching is a profession; the qualifications to become a teacher are set by the B.C. College of Teachers that has now become the B.C. Teachers Council.

My understanding is that this qualification is only good for B.C. and Alberta. Teachers cannot simply move to Manitoba and start teaching again unless the government council says they can. So to move somewhere else would be like a doctor that has come from the Ukraine or Russia or some other country where your education and training are not recognized, and in some circumstances, you would have to start all over again to qualify.

Presently, B.C. teachers are ninth in the country in salary, yet live in one of the most expensive provinces in Canada. So the idea that if they don’t like it, they should just move is a ridiculous falsehood.

I have talked to a few teachers and by far the most important issue is the working conditions – how many kids in the classroom and how many special needs children are in each classroom.

Money is not the primary issue, an effective teaching environment is.

I think we should have much more respect for our teachers and should value our education system much more than we presently do.

How does one determine the value of teachers?  How much should we pay teachers?

Teachers are not firefighters, teachers are not nurses, teachers are not dump truck drivers; teachers are teachers, and the only fair way to determine the value is to compare what teachers are making across the country and what the cost of living is in those respective areas, then make a determination based on those factors.

How does one determine the optimum teaching environment for the classroom? How do we draw the line between costs versus results?

I am not saying the government should write a blank check, but I do think it should bargain in good faith, not pass illegal legislation. Treat the teachers and the public with the respect that we all deserve.

It is time for truth, honesty, and fair play; I suggest a mediated contract with no preconditions.

M. Felgner

Maple Ridge

 

Teachers unified

Editor, The News:

Re: Teachers ask trustees to take stand (The News, March 7).

Over the last several days I took the opportunity to speak with striking teachers in Maple Ridge.

I spoke with classroom teachers at the elementary and secondary levels, student support service teachers, teachers on call and French immersion teachers.

The teachers I spoke with expressed frustration at the bargaining process that has yielded so few results for them.

Many of them hold the view that the government has not been bargaining in good faith and had been planning to legislate them back to work all along.

A common sentiment was that they had been through a great deal already, including a two-week strike in 2005 and a Supreme Court battle that rendered previous legislation illegal.

These earlier battles appear to have unified the teachers and they seem determined not to let their hard-fought gains be stripped away.

My impression was that there was a lot of concern over classroom size and composition.

Students with extra learning needs are often not officially designated for long periods of time because of a lack of support services, and although this saves the system money, it can lead to classrooms that are very challenging, especially for primary teachers.

Teachers described days when they spent so much time ‘putting out fires’ they had a less than ideal amount of time to actually teach curriculum.

A situation like this, of course, is harmful to the whole learning community.

Many of the teachers felt that most of the mainstream media is presenting a very slanted view of their demands by focusing so much attention on the issue of pay.

None of them are thrilled with the net-zero mandate, especially given the rising cost of living in the Lower Mainland.

But I sensed that they were not nearly as inflexible about the issue of pay increases as the government.

Just prior to the introduction of Bill 22, both sides of this dispute agreed that a round of mediation would be helpful in bringing the two sides closer together.

The fact that this was nipped in the bud is deeply concerning.

Any imposed contract, especially one that strips away existing provisions, is bound to plant the seeds for more trouble in the future.

Let’s hope, for our children’s sake, that teachers and their employers can relearn the fine art of bargaining in good faith so that a negotiated settlement will be reached.

Elizabeth Rosenau

Maple Ridge

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