Today representatives from School Boards around the province are meeting with the provincial public school bargaining agent, the BC Public School Employers Association. On the agenda is "Bargaining, media and the wired world".
I certainly hope that School Board officials and Trustees will honor and respect their employee's rights to discuss education issues in the public and with parents.
The recent fracas over the letters distributed to parents about the FSA does not bode well. Nor does the fact that practically every time teachers try to inform parents of educational concerns via a letter home, school Boards try to interfere.
Victoria has another case regarding letters sent home by teachers in relation to class size and composition. In the letters, teachers indicated that the class was over the limits in the School Act. The very same information is publicly posted by the Ministry of Education in January, but our Board said teachers should not be distributing letters home to parents in September.
Another dispute is taking place in Prince Rupert, where the Board of Education does not want teachers to distribute material different than the template letter printed by the BCTF about FSAs.
Despite having successfully won several arbitration awards based on teachers' constitution right to free speech, school Boards continue to interfere with letters and materials teachers wish to share with parents.
Another example took place at a high school in Victoria a few weeks ago. A teacher had posters for a public meeting regarding "wifi in schools" at a table during a parent evening. The school administration physically removed the posters.
Arbitrators and the courts have stated that teachers have an important role in the public dialogue on education issues. Yet we often find it a challenge to express ourselves when BCPSEA and Boards of Education intervene.