Thursday, October 27, 2011

Teachers upset with BCPSEA allegations and threats

Teachers in Greater Victoria flooded the District email server today to tell Trustees the truth about teachers' working hours. They were upset at the suggestion by BCPSEA that teachers should be paying 15% of their salary back to Boards (via the union) because of our job action.

Here are some excerpts from their letters:

We'll, I've just spent my lunch hour running around like a 'chicken with it's head cut off' trying to prep. for my afternoon classes. This is a regular occurrence now that my prep. time is among the lowest in Canada and I have to do all my own photocopying and the other countless jobs in order to effectively present lessons for my students. Of course, marking and assessing my students' work usually has to wait until the evening when my daughter is asleep and I can have several hours to myself.

I urge you to reconsider your position, speak out against this LRB application, and urge your local negotiating team to get back to the table and bargain in good faith.

It is key that you have a clear understanding of the ongoing dedication of the work teachers are committed to inside and out of their classrooms....As far as reporting, as a special education teacher, I am currently writing 8-12 page IEP reports for each of my students, meeting with parents in 90 minute meetings and collaborating with staff on how best these students can be supported. Please pay attention and take positive action to support teachers, students and schools.

It was with a great deal of sadness that I read about the total lack of respect exhibited by those that would seek to punish myself and my colleagues for attempting to follow a process that was, I assumed, a fundamental right. Like every teaching professional I have done my job in the classroom, which includes communicating with parents when they so desired, or when I was concerned about an individual student. After regular school hours, as the senior Drama teacher in the district, I put in countless hours in the presentation of productions, as do all other extra curricular teachers and coaches... What is wrong with this picture?

I too work between 45 and 50 hours a week for little over four days a week pay. I have enough self respect to know I’m shamefully underpaid, but there are other considerations. No one yet has mentioned what this crushing need in our schools has done to our family members.

Yesterday, I got a phone call from my husband. His mother is dying. He was scrambling to arrange a last minute flight back east so he could be there at the end. After school, instead of rushing home to make him a meal before rushing him out to the airport, I was in my classroom, talking with a boy who has escaped gang life. He wanted my advice on a budding romance between him and an older co-worker. He wanted to talk about his mother, who is dying. He needed to tell me about his father, who has cancer. His sister has special needs. I spent an hour with him, ignoring the huge stack of marking on my desk, the fact that at home I had a sick child, the fact that my husband had just learned he was about to lose his mother, and was present and patient with this kid, because this kid and every other kid in this province matter.

This isn’t a game. It’s not some pathetic macho posturing on our part. Our job takes it out of our bones, and we do it because we care. Does anyone else?

My husband ended up making supper. Again.

This year has been a roller coaster, so far, to say the least. I was excited and enthusiastic to begin my classes and meet my new students, and this element of my job has not let me down in the slightest. I feel inspired and energized on a daily basis and sink my heart, soul and body into my students and their learning. I have corresponded with parents, sent home progress reports, worked with students before and after school as well as during my lunch hours. I am thrilled once again to be so involved with the young minds of our future and to be amongst fellow professionals. My colleagues and I continue to meet in our departments and on school based teams with the intention to provide the very best educational experiences for our students.

On the flip side, is the absolutely devastating disrespect of our employer. We seem to be a throw away profession, attacked publicly, who do not garner even a modicum of positive support or respect from the Ministry of Education. It is heartbreaking that we invest 5 years of our lives and tens of thousands of dollars to become the very teachers who are so devalued in this province. On the heels of the countless hours of my own time that I spend marking, I am a senior level, secondary English teacher, and providing student support and activities, I learned yesterday that the government is seeking to reduce our pay by 15-20%. I was on my way to work at the time, and wanted nothing more than to turn around, go back home and issue my resignation...I am glad that I am not an easily defeated person, and arrived at work EARLY and in a positive mood to meet my students. I will NOT resign, but only strengthen my resolve to unite with my colleagues to make the changes desperately needed for our students of today and the future.

I need you to support me and my colleagues. We are not doing less.... we are doing everything we are suppose to do and more. I started this email last night at 11pm when I was replying to student emails and communications to parents. I have made it very clear to all my parents and students that I am available to update, discuss and communicate any time that they want. I've told them I will call, evenings, weekends, what ever works for them. I have not shut down but rather freely open the doors to parental participation and support without hesitation. Perhaps this job action is the best possible situation for parental and teacher relations. I want to be that teacher parents know they can trust and rely on to help support their children. I work incredibly hard to make it so.


  1. Am I working 20% less? Let's see: I'm still at school by 7 (way before the admin). I'm still there after 5 each night (long after admin has gone). I'm still coming in on the weekend to prep and mark (with fellow teachers, no admin).
    I've emailed regular updates (once, twice, sometimes thrice a week) to my students' parents. Yet I read that teachers are supposedly neglecting parental communication?
    I have an email folder that I call "Job Security". It's jammed full of communications from parents thanking me for keeping them in the loop. It's there because I'm expecting some district data expert to question what I'm worth!
    George, please follow me for a day before you make ignorant claims.

  2. And don't get me started on a Teachers Council that ISN'T.

  3. 16%!? When the hell did that happen?

  4. I have worked full time and more since Sept - extra at home and weekends. However, because I am a teacher-librarian, my two schools couldn't find enough time to officially give me 1.0 fte. I therefore work the same hours as everyone else, but get .941 of full time pay. I used to do report cards (for 17 years). It took hours of extra time. Now I do hours of other jobs. Maybe MLAs should have their pay cut when they are not sitting in the legislature. That would make more sense.

  5. I worked as a teacher for over a decade in BC before recently moving to Alberta. I am disgusted and disheartened by this blantant union busting attempt. It is with complete ignorance about the teaching profession that someone would demand a paycut for job action by saying teachers are working less at this time. All of my teaching friends are following the same protocol we've followed for years - keeping parents well-informed about their children's progress via formal and informal meetings, phone calls, and newsletters or emails. Not once in my career did I ever have time to write my report cards at school during school hours. Like most teachers, all of my reports were done at home, long after the families, students, and government officials had called their day finished. My colleagues who are student support teachers or counsellors spend copious amounts of hours dealing with the school board issued broadband restrictions that limit accessibility to the BCECIS documentation process they are required to complete for each student on their caseload. Teachers take time out of every part of their day (and often their wallets as well) to make sure their students are successful, feeling loved, clothed and fed. We give up our time with our own families to coach, mentor, put on extra-curricular after hours activities such as concerts. We donate our time in support of parent-run fun events. We buy the cupcakes at school bake sales. Like myself, many teachers who move schools or communities stay in touch with their former students. I'm sure what this speaker MEANT to suggest was a 15% pay raise that reflects the actual out of classroom time and money spent by most teachers in preparation for, reporting of, and loving of their students. SHAME ON YOU.

  6. the damage inflicted upon us by the Liberals will not be repaired by the NDP.

    Jim Morrison: ....."this is the end" my friend.

  7. A former colleague in my district is now an MLA/cabinet minister and noted that his "new" job is a lot easier than teaching was. Interesting that his salary is now more than double that of the highest paid teachers in his former workplace.

  8. It disgusts me to think that people actually believe that rubbish. The amount of hours and time spent by teachers outside of the classroom is astounding. What angers me even more is that principals were once teachers too and they should know, and be able to pass on, how much time it takes to prepare lessons, mark, write report cards. They were in the same position as we are, yet their support diminishes during this time of negotiation.
    Our current government talks a lot of rhetoric when they say they value education and want to invest in our childrens' future. Quite frankly I don't see it. The only thing I see is that after each election the governing body decides it it is time to give themselves a raise. Maybe they should take a pay cut and put the money into the children's education instead.