Teacher will give up volunteering time for students

Open letter to Ben Stewart, MLA Westside- Kelowna: It has been five weeks now since I put aside some precious time to write you a letter

Open letter to Ben Stewart, MLA Westside- Kelowna:

It has been five weeks now since I put aside some precious time to write you a letter expressing my concerns regarding your and the BC Liberals’ position on Bill 22 (Education Improvement Act).

Since that time, one thing that has happened is that George Abbott appointed a hopelessly biased, unqualified patsy in the lame-duck role of a mediator who does not have the power to offer anything in the mediation.

One thing that has not happened, however, was my receipt of any kind of response to my letter.

I would have thought that the thoughts and opinions of your constituents would matter enough to you to warrant a response, even if it were only a form-letter type of “Thank-you for taking the time to write…  Your opinion matters to me…” sort of thing, but I guess not.

Perhaps it’s your evident disdain or complete lack of respect for public school educators that compelled you not to respond to my letter.

Or perhaps, due to the presence of my old coaching whistle in the envelope it was deemed “suspicious,” and had to be destroyed (though I think I may have heard mention of that in the news).

If the reason is indeed the latter, I thought I would take advantage of your penchant for writing in newspapers, and post my original letter in this one, hoping you may see it. If so, I look forward finally receiving your response.


March 26, 2012

Dear Mr. Stewart:

Please find enclosed my whistle. Take it as a token of my crushed spirit.

I will no longer be needing it, as I have decided to no longer coach for the school at which I work. Despite having coached for 13 of the 15 years I’ve enjoyed this career, your government has driven me to this desperate measure.

Clearly you have no idea of the amount you rely on teacher “good will” to make the education system in this province work. From coaching to academic support, to outdoor excursions, to celebrations, countless hours are freely donated by teachers to provide students with a full, rich, educational experience.

Through the recent (and not-so-recent, come to think of it) actions of your government, you have exhausted my good will. It is gone.

I feel absolutely attacked and violated by my employer, and as such, I will limit my school involvement to that which is absolutely necessary and nothing more.

I will continue to do my contractually obligated duties, and do them well of course, but my days of voluntarily coaching rugby, volunteering to be the first aid attendant on five-day Outdoor Education excursions, and voluntarily running a Homework Club at 7:30 a.m. twice a week all year are over.

I had the misfortune of reading your recent submission to a local paper, defending Bill 22.

I suppose, with no children in the public education system, it’s easy for you to support such a destructive piece of legislation. More than I worry about its impact on my career, I worry about its impact on my young children currently in elementary school.

Shame on you and your party for your continued attack on public education, and those who deliver it.

James Pengilly,