Tag Archives: Education

He said, She said or Teachers said, Government said

Currently, in our great Province of British Columbia, there is public unrest because of contract negotitations for our teachers. There has been a lot of information, a lot of slandering and a lot of opinions flying back and forth so I thought I would weigh in on the issue as well.

I’d like to start by saying that I can only imagine if we, the public, are all having such confusing, round-about conversations on this topics, the negotiation team is probably even in worse shape.

From what I understand and have researched, the teachers are looking for a total of 15% wage increase over three years plus a slew of additional medical, dental and time benefits. In a healthy, thriving economy I could support such a wage demand; however, in our current fiscal climateI think that teachers need to be more realistic about a wage increase. Is our Government trying to be rid of our defict on the backs of it’s public servants and social programs? It appears so and I don’t agree with that method HOWEVER they are our current elected Government and our current fiscal environment is everyone’s fault. It is the result of many years of over spending, leading hugely consumer-based lifestyles and not being aware that we are all living well beyond our means. Our current elected party is attempting to keep our Province afloat. Is this a good thing? Absolutely, is their method sound? I don’t think so but I don’t have a better solution either. I’m not convinced that having a party with looser purse strings is such a great idea either. I mean, if we start handing out relatively large wage increases to public sectors, how will we pay for that? Will it result in layoffs? How will those layoffs affect our Province? To me, being employed and not getting a raise is far better than getting a raise and risking unemployment. Mass layoffs and increased unemployment would have a much larger, devastating domino effect than simply remaining status quo.

While we’re on the topic of wage increases, the Government actually has identified that wage increases are possible BUT savings have to be seen elsewhere. What does this mean? It means that money funding special programs could be cut and that money be directed towards salary dollars, money allocated for supplies could be cut and funnelled to pay the teachers OR perhaps the teachers could look at what they’re paying their Union representation and lobby for a decrease in fees. That would certainly provide some money to funnel back into the teacher’s pockets. Which begs the next question…what about the BCTF? Has anyone taken the time to stop and really sift through their financial statements? How much does the President and the Administration make? What do their expense accounts look like? Are they lining their pockets off the backs of teachers and then pointing the finger at the Government? Union representation should be about protecting the workers in the workforce. I say we start looking at our Union organizations and identify areas that could be improved. I mean, what would happen if you ran local elections and the teacher that won the election was excused from teaching (a TOC could easily fill in) and was given supplemental pay for their additional duties. I think that someone in the system would be able to give a more accurate account of how the education system really runs and I truly believe that public support would be far, far greater than it is now. My opinion on this stretches to all of the Public Service Unions.

The BCTF says that this fight is really about class size, composition and learning environments. Well, the Supreme Court has already ruled that legislating the ability to negotiate for class size and composition was unconstitutional so why ins’t the BCTF using that? If this battle really isn’t about wages, lower the wage ask to something reasonable and do-able and demand that class size, composition, better supplies and greater teaching assistance be put back on the table. I guarantee that the teachers would have just about every single parent in British Columbia fighting their fight and it would force our Government to stand up and take notice.

Our entire education system needs an overhaul. It’s old and archaic. Right now, teachers who have the most seniority, not necessarily the best teachers, but the most senior teachers are the ones who get the jobs. These are often ones who are riding out the last couple of years to retirement (notice I said OFTEN not ALL) and they are starting to burn out whereas many new teachers, who are excited, armed with new information, a freshly minted degree and are chalk full of energy, are the ones to spend years on TOC lists just waiting for their chance to make a difference. That needs to change. There needs to be a way to determine which teachers are the best ones to be teaching our children and they need to be fairly compensated for that. Administration…we have had the good fortune of having exceptional principals for our kids’ schools, until the last rotation when we lost, in my opinion, two of the best principals in all of the city. Those principals should be evaluated and compensated accordingly. To me, a Principal who stands outside monitoring the playground, takes the time to know each child in their school and is present at every award function, Christmas concert and puts their heart and souls into their schools deserve more money than a Prinicpal who shows up and sits in his office all day long. There needs to be a system of determining how to and who to compensate.

I also think that teachers need to stop complaining about being teachers. I’ve often heard the argument, when talking about compensation – which this is not supposed to be about wages, that teachers have to go to school for a long time. They have to work long days, they have to pay for some supplies out of pocket, they have hard jobs. Here’s my take on this. It was your choice to become a teacher – and no, I will not accept the “someone has to do it” line either. You chose to go to school for many years and you chose to do this job. There are perks to this job that are never talked about but I think should be acknowledged. Your “vacation” always lines up to that of your child’s reducing childcare costs. That is a huge benefit. You work Sept – June but earn a “yearly salary”. This is where the 9 – 10 hour day argument loses all merit because you only work those hours for 10 months out of the year! I would love to have two months off in the summer!! Let’s talk about some of the employer-paid benefits you receive. Paid sick time AND someone to cover your workload while you’re gone. Paid stat holidays OFF. Some people have to work those days. There’s the extended medical and dental benefits. Topped-up maternity leave. A PENSION! Those are all things that make for an above-standard lifestyle here in Canada. Those benefits are not available to everyone and they are all worth their weight in gold. I wish that teachers would stop complaining about being teachers and start focussing on the education system.

In closing, I’d like to note that I do support the teachers. I appreciate all that they do for the children of our Province. I want class sizes to be reasonable. I want teachers and the students to have adequate supplies in their class rooms. I support a fiscally responsible Government. I support a change to our education system.

I do not support a 15% wage increase. I do not support additional time off for professional development, sick leave, 5 years ( ) maternity leave, or anything else like that. I do not support abusive, juvenile or disrespectful picketing. I do not support Bill 22. I do not support bullying tactics from either party or using our children as pawns.

There is no easy solution but I'[m sure there is one. It’s going to require compromise from BOTH SIDES and I’m not sure either party is really ready sit down and compromise. Unfortunately, until that changes this will remain in a stalemate situation.

Advertisements

College

I am starting to question my sanity. When Rob and I bought our house, I gave myself a year off. A year off of school, trying to further my career, trying to get “ahead”. I lasted four months. I took the leap and applied to two separate programs. I’m crazy nervous.

I pride myself on over-coming a lot of
statistics. I was a 3x high school drop out BUT I managed to graduate (with honours) in 2009. I was a teenaged mother and went on to have my second baby at 23. Not only have I managed to raise two very beautiful children but I never lost custody, my children have the same father and I didn’t rely on the system to support us. I got my first job with the Government. I am pleased to say I’m coming up on my 10 year service award. I was in an abusive relationship but managed to break free and leave. And finally, I was raised by an alcoholic and I’ve managed to break that cycle.

The reason I laid that all out is to remind myself of everything I’ve faced, worked through and overcome. I need those reminders because I am scared out of my mind to go to college. I don’t know why this scares me so much but it does. I worry about not being smart enough, not being brave enough, not being good enough to succeed at this.

At this point in my life, I have no choice anymore. I am 31 years old. I’m no spring chicken. I need to get my rear in gear and get this done. I feel a real need to have something behind my name. Perhaps this is the final “leg” in a journey of proving myself.

I will have to see what this next chapter brings. I hope it brings knowledge, new experiences and new friends. Guess it’s a wait and see situation.

Rant Rock: Teachers teaching

Our teachers are threatening job action when school starts next week.  I, for one, am outraged.

Teachers have toted that the amount of children with learning disabilities have increased, that class sizes have increased, that they aren’t making enough money, etc.  So in recourse, teachers are not going to communicate with me.  The parent.  The teachers are not going to provide report cards.  The teachers are not going to meet with parents.  But in the next breath, state how much they are about our children’s education and well-being.

I call bullshit.

If you cared, you wouldn’t be reducing services that AFFECT OUR CHILDREN.  Back in the day, a teacher cared.  If a student needed a little extra attention, they got it.  The teacher didn’t carry on about how much of a drain or disadvantage it put them at.  The teacher took the time to care about each student.  Back in the day, the teacher was passionate about being a teacher.  End of story.  Back in the day, the teacher didn’t have a professional development day EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH.  (Which usually falls right before a long weekend, I might add).  Back in the day, teachers didn’t have helpers to help them with problem children – nope.  The parents were called to deal with the problem child.

I am so tired of hearing that there will be job action taken RIGHT BEFORE SCHOOL!  Do you not think we can’t see your manipulative tactics?  Why didn’t you take your precious summer vacation to fight this battle?  Why can’t the professional development week happen at the end of June?  Oh right.  Because then you’d have to either give up your cake or give up eating it.

You know what I’d like to see?  Teachers who refuse to do THEIR JOBS (read the job description people, then read the definition of subordination) get fired.  Yep, one…two…three strikes – YOU. ARE. FIRED.

Think that every teacher would run for the hills?  I think not.  Teachers salaries are anywhere from $44K to $81K per year.  This is a pretty decent wage if you consider you are guaranteed a professional development day per month, meaning it’s catch-up time for marking, courses, etc.  You only work from late August to June (BONUS!) and you get one to two weeks off in March and December and then stat holidays throughout the year (at this point, I’m thinking I picked the wrong public service!)

I think it would send a mighty strong message to the teachers of this Province.  Do your job or be unemployed.  If a person were to pull have of this shit working at Taco Bell – what do you think would happen?  I am almost willing to bet…in the end…our children would end up with better educations than the crap they’ve been receiving.