EDITORIAL: A little peace in B.C. public schools

It’s unlikely BC teachers will be satisfied with their new deal given ongoing concerns about government attacks on their professionalism.

Bill 22 was a hammer where a feather was needed but, thanks to some fancy footwork by mediator Charles Jago, the worst elements of Bill 22 have been rendered moot, an agreement has been reached and B.C.’s public school teachers and their employers will live to fight another day.

While BC Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert characterized the mediation process as a sham, labelled the pressure teachers were under as bullying and the agreement the best that could be achieved under duress, some modest improvements were gained, albeit not in wages. More importantly, the two-year contract ending in 2013 contains few if any of the concessions that had been demanded by the employers, the BC Public School Employers’ Association.

True, there are no improvements in class size and composition language, and the government chose to tighten the screws on teachers with Bill 22 by eliminating limits without giving teachers any of the control they sought in classroom organization. The government claims its $165-million Learning Improvement Fund will allay some of the concerns by putting more teachers and special education assistants in the classroom.

For the coming school year, School District 43 has $1.2 million in extra funds to support large elementary schools and struggling students thanks to strike savings and other surplus funds from this year.

Still, it’s unlikely teachers will be satisfied given their ongoing concerns about what they view as government attacks on their professionalism, autonomy, control over classroom organization and wages. Some of these issues will be addressed through the courts in the hopes that the judicial system will give teachers what the government will not while wages will remain a sticking point when negotiations resume.

For parents, the teachers’ agreement is a relief after months of uncertainty and anxiety, a three-day walk-out and withdrawal of teachers’ support for field trips and other volunteer activities.

But the relief will be short-lived unless the economy turns around, the government changes or it turns out that more money does make a difference to in the classroom — although there will never be enough cash to solve every issue.


Just Posted

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

PHOTOS: Surrey designer uses toilet paper to make a dress for annual Toronto show

‘The dress is very experimental and avante garde,’ says Guildford-based Alex S. Yu

Police issue warning after four overdoses in North Delta

Police and emergency health services use naloxone to revive four overdose victims Thursday morning

Surrey reacts to policing plan getting the green light

Former mayor, councillors and residents weigh in on the Public Safety Minister approving the transition

Trudeau vows to stand firm against ‘increasingly assertive’ China

China has accused Canada of meddling in its affairs

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town hit by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

North Van music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Most Read