Friday, December 2, 2011

Teachers read message to George Abbott

Minister of Education George Abbott has been touring the province visiting schools. This is a good thing. I remember in 2005 a Victoria teacher running into then Education Minister Shirley Bond and asking when she had last visited a classroom, to which she answered it was when she was in school herself!

I hope that Mr. Abbott is listening to teachers' messages. I know during his visit at Central Middle School, teachers questioned him about the net zero mandate, services for students with special needs, and class size - issues that are important to teachers and that we feel are critical to maintaining our excellent public education system.

This week, at a visit to Caulfeild Elementary in West Vancouver, teachers read the following message to Mr. Abbott:

"The teachers of Caulfeild would like you to know that we are disappointed and disheartened by the government’s recent attacks on B.C. public school teachers.  By the very nature of what we do, we are caring, diligent, progressive and conscientious people who, in the face of the negative tone of the Ministry’s Education Plan, continue to work for the betterment of B.C. children and public education.

Why does this government continue to strip the “profession” from teaching? The “Professional Teaching Act” is now the “Teaching Act”. The backwards movement at the Provincial bargaining table attempts to strip our contract to the point that government officials and Administrators dictate our professional development and negate any autonomy in the classroom. The message this sends is simply that we cannot be trusted to conduct ourselves as professionals and do not deserve to be treated as such.

We believe that BCPSEA’s application to take back 15% of our salary and benefits for work “not done” is insulting.  We at Caulfeild have never put in more hours of our own time, after school, in the evenings and on weekends.  We are dedicated professionals who have worked above and beyond to implement our iDEC program. We don’t like to say no. We want to be successful. We are highly trained and passionate teachers who continue to teach, assess and inform parents of student progress in the usual manner.  

How are B.C. teachers supposed to make ends meet with yet another zero salary increase? Perhaps rather than coaching or sponsoring teams and clubs on our personal time, we should re-claim those hours for ourselves and our families and perhaps tutor and subsidize our incomes by an extra $400 a week. Many teachers  have a second job to make ends meet.

Where is the incentive for us to continue professional development when we aren’t considered professionals? Why does the government ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling on Bills 27 and 28? How does cutting funding for teacher-librarians support a need for increased literacy? Why are West Van parent volunteers expected to pick up the slack?  What are the less fortunate districts supposed to do?  This district, despite the successes you will see today, is underfunded by the government.  Fee-paying international students help make up much of your government’s shortfall.  Without them, much of what you see today would not be possible.  Our PAC’s also raise money to make up for your government’s lack of funding.  Radical change is not what we need now.  We need stability and proper funding. "


  1. Thanks to the teachers of Caulfeild for taking a stand.

  2. As Shirley Bond was on the Prince George School Board and an active parent volunteer, I find it difficult to believe that she had last visited a classroom when she was in school herself.

    Perhaps this start to the blog post is influencing my reaction to the rest of the post. However, stating to the Minister that "[by] the very nature of what we do, we are caring, diligent, progressive and conscientious people", does seem to lead to the next part of that sentence being "and you're not".

    Would it be possible to phrase this message to the Minister in a more professional manner, one that is less adversarial?

  3. "[by] the very nature of what we do, we are caring, diligent, progressive and conscientious people", does seem to lead to the next part of that sentence being "and you're not".

    Which is completely true.
    I don't find the letter adversarial, I find it completely honest.

  4. I didn't find the letter unprofessional in the slightest,nor did I feel that the statement "[by] the very nature of what we do, we are caring, diligent, progressive and conscientious people" led to "and you're not".
    I felt it was an affirmation of those qualities that come into question whenever teachers are forced into any action on their own behalf.

  5. Student teacher guyDecember 3, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    "Many teachers have a second job to make ends meet." Yikes. As a current B.Ed. student here in B.C. I find that disturbing. Do you have any data on that? Much thanks and, in any case, keep blogging. Your stuff is very informative.

  6. But surely there is a way to communicate with the Minister in a way that is less adversarial? If you're a teacher dealing with a student, for example, isn't it more effective to work in a little bit of praise about something, and then list things to work on?

    Why not start with an acknowledgement that both teachers and the people in the Ministry of Education are there because they want to help improve the lives of children through education?

    Talk about how teachers are a part of the conversation about the changes in the education system, and give some examples as to how things are changing in individual classrooms.

    Then move onto a discussion as to how West Vancouver is a fortunate district, due to having many rich parents supporting the district, and international students. This level of support is required for all districts, and all districts need stability and proper funding.

    For heavens sake - that's the best part of the letter. Why bury it at the bottom?

    Student teacher guy, I think you'll find that a number of beginning teachers may have a second job to make ends meet until they get a full time contract. I don't think you'll find that your typical full time teacher requires a second job.

  7. Who on earth is this person criticizing this letter?? My goodness. Do you work for George Abbott?

    I am not a teacher but is active int he school and have a couple friends who are teachers. What more do you want from teachers? Teachers try to stand up for once for themselves and they get knocked down. I would say good for those teachers for being a bit aggressive (to you, not to me) to fight for our education system. In fact, they should be more vocal and aggressive. Don't you think the government is being adversarial? George Abbott is the government.

    Student teacher: you will not get rich starting out but I know a few experienced teachers who are indeed, struggling. They take any job tutuoring, or marking for the government just to make ends meet. Lots of teachers have husbands who have very good jobs and that is their saving grace.

  8. I'd like to ask George to take the focus off the teachers and have a closer look at our principals. Good leadership is where it all begins and while some principals are fantastic at their jobs, some are just plain incompetent. So with regard to teacher bashing.....BACK OFF!

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. I tend to agree with Anonymous, but take issue with what Anonymous says about Anonymous' comment.

  11. student teacher needs to look into teaching in alberta, where funding to education cuts is being restored and the salary is 20,000.00 more a year. i am a 25 year teacher and that is 500,000.00 more over the course of my career. teachers are recognized and respected for their professional status. in fact, anyone in the health care or education field should consider alberta where real estate and cost of living is so much more manageable. housing costs in calgary are less than small town B.C. B.C. is bankrupt, take your degrees and run!!