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.