The level of support for teachers in negotiations with the provincial government splits writers of letters to the editor.

Class action divides community

Editor:

Re: Surrey teachers protest, Nov.29; Re: No reason ‘net zero’ can’t be met, Nov. 29; Report cards leave marks, Dec. 8.

Editor:

Re: Surrey teachers protest, Nov.29

Although I’d much prefer critiquing the seven- to 10-digit salaried private and public sector CEOs and billionaires, I nonetheless find the BC Teachers Federation’s utilization of their students as very potent bargaining chips quite disturbing. Or is it naught but just a coincidence that the BCTF’s job action happens to coincide with the beginning of the school year?

But what also burns me is the BCTF members’ gall to outright expect to continue receiving regular employee welfare and health benefits – as well as regular generous pay – regardless of the fact that they’re not performing many tasks that are a part of their salary agreement.

Meanwhile, B.C. politicians – both those governing and in opposition, as well as many opinion pieces – promote the coddling, so as not to make teachers more angry.

It would be interesting to know just how many of the “I-support-the-teachers” parents out there on televised and in print-news media are offering their support mostly out of some degree of fear of retaliation against their children by current and future BCTF teachers.

Frank G. Sterle, Jr., White Rock

• • •

Re: No reason ‘net zero’ can’t be met, Nov. 29 letters.

Given the BC Liberals’ inability to manage their financial books, I am saddened that no one in the media has questioned the $2.1-billion figure constantly quoted by BC Public School Employers’ Association.

Unfortunately, what is not mentioned is that this figure is based on an assumption that every single teacher in the province will take the maximum number of sick days allotted per year. It also maximizes every single teacher to the maximum allowable for their category.

Neither assumption is remotely close to the truth.

Also not mentioned is that it is the BCPSEA that continually refuses to negotiate at the table. Rather, they prefer to “negotiate” through the media with misleading figures. Just how does one 15-minute supervision shift per week and one four-hour half-day of entering report card grades per term add up to 15 per cent of our salary?

Of course, their real intent is to provoke the teachers into a full-out strike – for a minimum of two weeks – so that the government can save $200-300 million in teacher and CUPE salaries, which they can then turn around and supply back into the system.

D.A. Harrison, Langley

• • •

After reading the Nov. 29 paper, a number of things struck me concerning our teachers’ positions regarding the ongoing action against their employer, the BCPSE.

Mostly, it struck me the BCTF is failing them badly.

In your letters section, BCPSEA board chair Melanie Joy indicates that in the last year the BCTF and the BCPSEA have been to the bargaining table 55 times (No reason ‘net zero’ can’t be met). Meanwhile, in the article about the T.E. Scott Elementary teachers (Surrey teachers protest), a teacher is quoted as saying the employer will not bargain in good faith.

Joy indicates the BCTF’s position started out asking for $2.1 billion in contract improvements, and this has not changed since March. The BCPSEA maintains a net-zero policy at this time. Given the article on page 3 (B.C. deficit forecast tops $3 billion), this is a reasonable position. Where would the BCTF like the money to come from? More taxes? Cuts in hospital services?

Fact is, teachers are in a particularly weak bargaining position. There is an oversupply; the employer doesn’t have money; and the economy is far from buoyant.

Given these conditions, you might expect that teachers’ compensation would go down over the contract period.

It is time for teachers to take a look around and compare their working conditions to others. Most jobs where a person makes $60,000-70,000 might have four weeks vacation and a work year of 2,160 hours or more.

Maybe in three years, conditions will have changed – perhaps the oversupply is reduced, the government is flush and the economy is more buoyant – at which time the BCTF will be in a better bargaining position.

Until then, teachers are going to have to ask their representatives to be more reasonable in their demands.

In this case, it is the BCTF that is not bargaining in good faith. Teachers are reasonably compensated already.

Kurt Friesen, Surrey

• • •

Re: Report cards leave marks, Dec. 8 letters.

As a student, I find it heartbreaking that some are so eager to throw insults and slander at our teachers.

For years, our school system has been suffering; this is no fault of the teachers. There is not enough money to uphold the level of education wanted in our province.

It is the provincial government that is in charge of where our money goes. I would much rather see enough classrooms, lockers and supplies for all students than a shiny new roof on BC Place. If there is enough money for that multi-million-dollar project, surely there is enough to fund much-needed changes in our schools.

There are those who claim teachers “care nothing for the children.” To these people I say, how dare you? Every year, elementary school teachers spend their own money on toys, books, glue, scissors and coloured paper. Many of my high school teachers donate time and energy into running various clubs and sports teams. They receive no additional payment for this, nor for the time they spend outside of school hours marking and preparing lessons.

Are these the actions of people who care nothing for the children?

I speak to letter-writer Ivan Scott when I say that perhaps the reason we children no longer have respect for society is because society has no respect for us. We are seen only as the thieves, the vandals, the miscreants.

If those in control of our education had respect for us, they would build enough schools, buy enough books and provide the personal assistance needed by so many of the challenged children who are falling between the cracks.

The reason many students have no respect for society is because those who have stood up for us, our teachers, are being torn down by those in charge of our future.

I am 16. I have utmost respect for teachers, parents and fellow students. I have little respect for my government, as they clearly have little respect for my future.

Shelby Hughes, Surrey

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