A group of teachers from Surrey’s T.E. Scott Elementary braved the cold wind and blowing rain Thursday afternoon, waving paper signs reading BC Kids Just Can’t Wait and Teachers Want a Fair Deal.
The group of about a dozen, on the suggestion of their union, the Surrey Teachers’ Association, were hoping to draw attention to the fact a contract has still not been negotiated with the province.
“We feel as a group we need to get out there and be more visible,” said Kathy Jickling, a Grade 6/7 teacher at T.E. Scott. “We feel as though our message is not being heard at all.”
Teachers across B.C. began job action at the beginning of the school year in September, refusing to perform administrative duties such as meeting with principals, supervising playgrounds and writing report cards.
Jickling said the government is “absolutely refusing” to bargain in good faith.
The teachers outside T.E. Scott Elementary were also upset that the Surrey Board of Education won’t engage in any local discussions, or bring Surrey concerns to the provincial level.
“You need to be a voice for education in Surrey, for kids in Surrey” said Grade 2 teacher Marna Branigan, waving at several drivers who honked in support as they drove by.
Earlier in the week, the STA announced there were three “actions” planned this week and next aimed at drawing attention to teacher bargaining.
The first was for teachers at all Surrey and White Rock schools to “rally around our schools” on Thursday afternoon. Upcoming plans include teachers “mass marking” in local malls instead of having a staff meeting on Monday (Nov. 28). Sit-ins are planned at Guildford Town Centre, Semiahmoo Shopping Centre and Central City Library.
And teachers are being asked to attend the Surrey Board of Education meeting Dec. 8 – the inaugural meeting of the newly elected board – in hopes of garnering some attention.
“We want to make sure the new school board knows that teachers are very concerned about the situation in Surrey,” reads an STA memo. “We are counting on them to be active advocates for public education…”