One letter writer says teachers had little alternative than to vote in favour of a contract agreement

Voting was a struggle for teachers

'Do you want your government to support successful, happy, well-educated citizens or do you want low paying jobs and poverty...?'

As we head into summer, there are a few things I need to get off my chest.

No, I am not happy with the ratified agreement but I believe teachers had no alternative, for many, voting was a struggle. To quote a colleague, “This is not a deal. It’s a kick in the pants. Give up $30 million on a three-day walkout for students and fair wages and get back $2.6 million for orthotics?”

Large classes, split grades with many special needs, a reduction in support, fewer teachers – that is what we lost and not even a cost of living adjustment. Those millions from our strike went into the so-called Learning Improvement Fund, which often translated into hiring more SEAs, not that they are not needed, but teachers should not have to pay for them. This fund should have been tenfold and fully targeted to employ the specialists we are so lacking – the librarians, the psychologists, the counsellors, the speech and language pathologists, the Learning Support teachers.

So back to the courts we must go for the illegal Bills 27, 28 and 22. The minister who lavishes praise on the parties and wants to mend fences is justifying his net zero, to avoid a European crisis here neglecting to mention its cause: greedy financiers, unregulated banks and unsupported economies.

In my mind, the only thing that may sweeten this bitter year would be if the minister resigned, retired or got recalled. Most teachers will continue to be disgusted by the disrespect they and their students have been shown. The only consolation is that we can now fight another day in our schools without fear, the concessions are off.

A big thank you to the thousands of teachers who stuck to the action plan and to the parents who supported us as they understood this was the only legal way left to be heard. One thing is crystal clear, volunteering is just that. If we wish it otherwise, then it may be time to follow suit with American and Finnish systems paying extra for those wonderful extracurricular activities throughout the day and after school, which brings us back to whether or not British Columbians want a well-funded education system.

Do you want your government to support successful, happy, well-educated citizens or do you want low paying jobs and poverty allowing corporate elites to get wealthier and class disparity to become wider?

I urge the voters of this province, to join teachers next spring, speak out for public education or as Plato said, “I shall assume that your silence gives consent” to that which is broken.

Neovi Patsicakis

Special education teacher

Surrey

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