Teachers were shocked to see the proposals put forward by BCPSEA at the bargaining table this week. On behalf of government and school Trustees, BCPSEA wants to gut teachers' collective agreements. They want almost total control over hiring, firing and placement. They want to eliminate seniority rights and due process rights. The proposals include:
* A teacher evaluation system with no rules or processes, except that they must be "aligned" with Ministry and District priorities
* The ability to fire a teacher after a single evaluation
* The ability to move a teacher to a different job or school at any time with one month's notice
* The elimination of seniority rights for teachers who wish to move positions, assignments or schools
The proposals represent a wholesale gutting of hundreds of existing provisions in agreements across BC that provide reasonable processes for teacher evaluations and fair and transparent hiring processes for teachers already hired to a District.
This is not about getting the right teacher into the right classroom for kids. Teachers do not want to be teaching in a class where they don't feel qualified or able to do their job. In fact, existing hiring provisions require that teachers are suitably qualified. Teachers apply for job postings based on interest, ability, qualifications and personal preference. This allows teachers to be in a job they will be best at and are enthusiastic about. It is fair and objective. The school Districts have already screened entry into the workforce by hiring every teacher in the first place (there is no seniority provision to become an employee of a school District - a teacher must go through a typical interview and hiring process before any seniority is accrued or applies).
In addition, existing evaluation procedures provide mechanisms for ensuring competency and providing feedback for improvement and support. In my District, every teacher is evaluated at the beginning of their career and regularly there after or if there is any concern raised.
This is not "dialogue" or a "new approach", that some Trustees and Minister Abbott claim to have interest in. This is not "supportive". It is punitive. Dialogue starts with respecting teachers as autonomous professionals, rather than seeing their exercise of choice and professional decisions as a "barrier" to improvement and the "problem".
Nor does this have anything to do with so-called "21st century learning". In fact, these proposals would stifle change, innovation and creativity by forcing teachers into positions they do not want to be in. It is a top-down management model designed to exert control and conformity.
This has nothing to do with improving education, and everything to do with increasing Ministry and District control over who, what and how teachers teach. It is about de-professionalizing the teaching profession. It is the same kind of attack on unions that we are seeing across the US in states like Wisconsin and now in Canada with the postal workers. This so-called "public policy" is just plain old union bashing. It is Wisconsin North.
(Thanks to my colleague Kathy Couch, whose tweet on "Wisconsin North" I borrowed.)