Educational reality

Editor:

Re: Teachers paid to do entire job, Oct. 13 letters.

Editor:

Re: Teachers paid to do entire job, Oct. 13 letters.

Just to clear up misunderstandings parents may have about our job action, teachers are teaching, marking and speaking with parents.

We now have more time to spend on the most important aspects of our jobs not having to attend meetings, supervise play time, collect and fill out administrative paperwork.

We are not giving report cards, but we are planning, teaching and keeping track of all learning as always. If your child is having trouble, the teacher will see you. The teacher may refer your child to a learning support teacher.

Of course, this child may be one of 60, or may be waiting to receive service, or waiting to be tested for a learning disability, or waiting to receive ESL support, or waiting out in the rain to use the washroom because he or she is being educated in a portable, or feeling faint because he or she has to fight every hour in crowded hallways to get to class and had nothing to eat that morning.

This is our educational reality.

Teachers have taken job action because the government is not willing to fund our education system properly. By taking away our right to bargain class size and composition, government has left the system functioning at a bare minimum.

Even though their laws have been deemed illegal by the courts, they are ignoring our position at the table and they are waving a pittance of money which is suppose to make up for almost 10 years of a system overflowing in the classrooms and running without needed specialist teachers, counsellors, psychologists, pathologists, programs and courses.

This government’s plan is to distract everyone by focusing on revamping the system so that it runs with even fewer teachers, replaced by inadequate and impersonal computers all under the guise of 21st-century learning. A distance class can have up to what, 300?

Is this what parents are willing to put up with? Are we running factories or bringing up our children and fostering their humanity?

Here is our minister of education making the underhanded statement that class size does not matter. Perhaps he needs to visit Finland and ask why theirs is the best education system. Perhaps he needs to teach a math concept to a group of 32 and then to a group of 22.

Yes, we like field trips too. We get to enjoy our students in different setting and we reinforce classroom learning out in the real world. If field trips are not occurring, it is because an administrator is not collecting permission slips and money for them.

I remind that field trips and extracurricular activities have always been voluntary extra work, done because we care about kids. This is a small price to pay for what is at stake. Don’t forget the countless hours teachers put in after work and at home sacrificing family time.

Please know that we do not take our job action lightly. We need the support of everyone if we truly care about our children’s future.

Neovi Patsicakis, Surrey

• • •

This is my 14th year of teaching, and it is by far the toughest yet.

When I read letters and hear people talk about what the teachers are doing for job action, occasionally people are right but usually people are clueless.

Money is the first thing people are ignorant about. We are fifth in the payscale for the whole country.

Picture being hired to do a job for a certain amount of money. Imagine if each week your boss drops by to add more duties. Duties keep getting added until they become a normal and expected part of your job. Eventually you might ask to be paid more because your workload is twice the size but your pay hasn’t changed.

That is what teachers face. Sure, we could get another job and make more money, but teachers teach because we love what we do.

The problem is that pay is not what most teachers are frustrated about. I have more than 200 kids rotate through my class every three months. This means an average class size of 30 kids. Typically three to seven kids are identified with some kind of behavioural or learning disability. Please take a second and picture that: Thirty kids; Five need the attention of an extra teacher.

The special education assistants are run off their legs trying to keep up with all the kids who need help. Oh, and that doesn’t include the kids who don’t have a lunch or who have clothes that have not been cleaned in a month because the “parents” who care for them are not around to cook and clean.

I run around trying desperately to help all the needy kids in my class. Can you imagine how that affects the kids who are taught at home to work hard and do well? I am sad to admit they really don’t get the attention they deserve at school.

Despite a crazy workload, teachers are available to talk about your kids. You’re right, we are not having teacher meetings. All you have to do is call the school or set up a meeting to chat. We are encouraged by our union now more than ever to have an open dialog with parents.

If you want grades, just ask. We are keeping marks and have them available for parents for the asking.

Teachers are still out on the fields at 7 a.m. and at 5:30 p.m. I know, I saw them after prepping projects for the students during those hours.

If you think our job action is unreasonable, think of the classes as I described. Teachers tried to remedy this six years ago when we took job action. We said that this would happen. We are trying to create a learning and working environment that is positive for everyone. We need your help and encouragement.

Stu Mitchell, White Rock

 

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