Teachers rally at Fassbender’s office on would-be first day of school

SURREY – On what would have been the first day of classes for the new school year, teachers instead found themselves standing in Fleetwood in the pouring rain, waving signs and hoping their voices were being heard.

That was the scene Tuesday (Sept. 5) as hundreds of teachers and supporters came to education minister and Surrey-Fleetwood MLA Peter Fassbender’s office in a demonstration of solidarity.

Organized by the BC Federation of Labour, the rally was one of several held around the province during the week and the second at Fassbender’s office this summer.

And despite the rainy weather, hundreds of teachers, parents and other union representatives made their way to the Fleetwood location to show the minister they would not be deterred in their fight.

“I came out today because I’m a teacher and a parent and so it’s a double whammy for me,” said Sid Siddique, a teacher from Maple Ridge. “This has dragged on for so long now, how much longer is anybody’s guess but that’s why we’re here. The funding of education has reached ridiculous lows and we need to fix it. Unless we raise our voices in this way, what else is going to happen?” Looking at the crowd gathered, Siddique said he was heartened by the turnout.

“It’s great to see so many people turn up, it’s not just teachers,” he said.

Also in attendance were local NDP MLAs Sue Hammell and Harry Bains and MP Jinny Sims, who also served as BCTF president from 2004 to 2007, as well as Surrey trustee Charlene Dobie.

For Surrey teacher Arlene Laing, who’s been teaching for the past 34 years, she said the government needs to change its position if it truly wants to help students.

“What I’ve seen is a great decline in terms of the composition of the classroom,” she said. “The numbers of special-needs kids in the classrooms and the complexity of their needs are increasing.”

Laing said she’s tired of seeing cuts forcing special education teachers to take on multiple students when they should each be receiving specialized learning.

“We’re talking about kids that have unique needs that actually require oneon-one support,” she said. “That time is being eroded and they’re starting to clump together kids in classrooms and hoping that one (educational assistant) can cover multiple children at a time, it’s happening more and more and more.”

But with the hundreds gathered enjoying the speeches and songs that ensued, Surrey Teachers Association President Jennifer Wadge hoped the minister – who was away during the rally – would also hear what they had to say.

“We also had a rally in June and he wasn’t here then either, and we were again told he wouldn’t be here today and that’s really too bad,” said Wadge. “He’s been elected by the people in Surrey and it’s really too bad he can’t be here when people are trying to get a message to him.”

cpoon@thenownewspaper.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock, Delta and beyond

APRIL 4: Two people in Delta fined for trying to re-sell N95 masks

Man injured in reported stabbing near Surrey SkyTrain station

Incident happened around 9 p.m. Friday night

PHOTOS: The day 28,000 Lollapalooza-goers rocked Cloverdale in 1994

Fans share memories of drugs, bad Smashing Pumpkins, Nick Cave walk-off and ‘letdown’ of Surrey date

Surrey veteran feels pinch from COVID-19 after cancelled surgery

Caught between two countries, and low income, soldier feels he’s been forgotten

Surrey parents, students navigate remote learning during COVID-19

The Surrey school district teachers are slowly rolling out plans for new way of educating

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

TransLink to reduce service on some bus routes, SeaBus, West Coast Express

Changes start April 6 ‘due to low ridership and financial pressures’ amid COVID-19

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Vancouver man, 21, charged after mother found dead in Squamish home

Ryan Grantham, 21, has been charged with second-degree murder

Most Read