Saturday, March 3, 2012

Job Action 2012

On Monday March 6th, a three day teacher walkout will start and I will be on the picket (or leaflet) line outside my school instead of inside my classroom teaching my students. Our staff has voted to work bell to bell after the strike - no extracurricular activities and no field trips. The educational sector has become dangerously unstable in British Columbia.

Some background:

In 2002, the provincial government legislated away class-size and composition guarantees. Last year, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that this action was unconstitutional because teachers were not consulted and had no input into their working conditions. They had until April 1st, 2012 to resolve this issue. Proposed legislation that is being introduced includes the following: teachers will be prohibited from bargaining class size, average class size, staffing levels, ratios or caseloads for two years, with this prohibition lifted at the end of the school year in 2013, a month after the next provincial election. Even the existing provisions of Bill 33 are being totally erased, with the consent and consult requirements in Grades 4–12 gone. Superintendents, principals, and even the minister can decide which classes may exceed 30 students.

Some thoughts:

I believe the provincial government is aware that the teaching/classroom conditions are untenable. They know that the cuts that deleted many jobs for special education teachers, increased class sizes and no restrictions on the number of special needs students allowed in each classroom will make the job even more difficult for teachers to deliver a quality education for their students. Maybe there really is no more money for funding (and I am not talking about pay raises for teachers here). I don't know. But if the end game here is to beat the teachers into submission with threats of loss of seniority why make an already bad situation worse? Teachers are necessary to make the system work....and especially a system that is badly in need of fixing.

It is the demoralization of teachers that has me the most concerned.