Letters to the Editor

Local teachers vent their frustration

To the editor:

Teachers took a step many were reluctant to take Monday afternoon. They left their schools early and turned to a public demonstration to raise awareness of their concerns for public education in this province.

While the media focused public attention on salary requests, the Liberal government refused to recognize the decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which found Bills 27/28 both illegal and unconstitutional.

Neither the media nor the government report the fact that these bills stripped support from students and funds from their schools at an average of $300 million over each of the last 10 years.

Teachers want the public to be reminded of this fact as they sacrificed salary for years to fund these conditions for their students and your children.

At the same time that government pleads lack of money, they have promoted a B.C. Education Plan that is accompanied with a decision to direct $2.2 billion to Telus and IBM for enhancements to technology and Wi-Fi services.

At the same time, they suggest that this service must interface with “gadgets” students will bring from home.

Education Minister George Abbott has been very public in stating that his government will ensure more support for students with diverse learning needs.

Check beyond the political rhetoric and find that the Liberals will dedicate $165 million over the next three years to hire more teaching assistants to meet the needs of our most needy students.

While the teachers have great respect for all para-professionals in all walks of life, I would respectfully suggest that the “support” this government is offering is akin to suggesting the dental assistant can undertake all dental surgery or the legal secretary will represent the plaintiff in a murder trial.

Teachers are doing all they can to ensure that our students are being given every chance to succeed.

However as in all professions there are specialists within teaching. Lack of government funding has resulted in the elimination of specialist services to our students as a result of Bill 28—there are simply not enough specialist teachers to provide direct service to our students facing the greatest challenges.

These colleagues can diagnose, intervene and find the route to success for children who struggle with challenges requiring very specialized and individualized strategies.

These specialists also work with and support the classroom teacher, parents and other professionals working to ensure all have a chance at success.

Our demonstration is held in the belief that every child has the right to thrive. Our stance is one of responsibility to our students.

Our demonstration is a plea for the public to lend their weight to this struggle. When children thrive all of society benefits for they are our future.

Our struggle has not changed in the history of the profession— we stand strong and united, determined to ensure that children are supported and given every opportunity to succeed in their schools and in their community.

 

Alice Rees,

president,

Central Okanagan

Teachers’ Association

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