Sunday, March 4, 2012

131st Post - How to Solve the Teacher Dispute

Something cheerful on
an otherwise dreary day
Happy Sunday!

Wow, where to start? 

BC teachers have voted 87% (or roughly 65% of the total membership) in favour of striking for three days beginning on Monday, March 5, 2012. No big surprise.
This is a highly emotional time for teachers and parents, as well as many students. There has been no shortage of rhetoric and so not to feel left out I shall add mine. My thoughts and opinions are based on over three decades of working in the public system as a teacher and more recently a school counsellor. I have worked in two different school districts and at a variety of schools: small/large; affluent/inner city; brand new buildings/buildings well past their 'best by' date. In short, I believe I have the earned the right to comment.  

This conflict is less to do with education and more to do with power and politics. That is not to say that there are not serious issues facing us in our public education system. There is room as well as need for improvement. There is also much that is excellent and worth celebrating. 
Yet rather than rolling up our sleeves and working constructively towards solutions, we have collectively walked away from the table and declared the Liberal Government a Bully.

Sadly, we are not permitted to address the actual  failings of schooling because we are in war mode!  Again...sigh.
BCTF vs. Social Credit
BCTF vs. Liberal you see a pattern? 

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results."

How radical would it be to send both sides of the bargaining team (Government and BCTF) out of the face off circle and replace them with fresh centers...a fresh perspective?  
It's time for change, real change. It's time to do it better. The paradigm isn't working. The fix is more complicated than smaller classes with less identified students. It's time for collaboration between all parties. To acknowledge what works well and what needs a fix. And yes there are both! 
Educating our youth is a high calling. It can be the best of times and the worst of times. It's exciting, exhausting, challenging, and rewarding. The question should be: how; as a union and as a government can we work towards making our system excellent? If we truly had the will it could be done but it's going to take a radical departure from our old finger pointing ways.

I will honour the BCTF's decision to stage a legal three day strike. I will participate on the 'sticket' line. What I would like in return is a new bargaining team (on both sides). I will gladly go back to work after three days and abide by Bill 22 - yes I have read it, have you? We need to cool off. We need to model conflict resolution, in the same way we preach it to our students. It can be done! 

As always I live with the hope that Better is Possible.

Respectfully yours,


  1. These situations are always so terribly sad, and fraught with difficulties.

    Blessings and Bear hugs as your try to sort through this mess.

  2. School has changed a lot and having had a wonderful school and teachers who were actually your friends, growing up, I find it so much more complicated today as too many pressures are put on the teachers taking away time for actual education.Also kids, are too grown up and listening to things they shouldn't be. Too many pressure groups instilling their values into the school system and this always increases prices.We steered away from the national school ways into the local community needs and this is wrong.
    I havent read the bill but the way things are going,economically, I see the progress steering towards home schooling via computers and computers again taking away more jobs.
    Many people are choosing to do this today as they do not like what is going on in schools.
    And so my heart too is aching because I loved my elementary school. I have many good memories growing up there but high school was like going to jail and teachers were not that good esp in math and being protected by unions to keep their jobs. Students always come last where it counts the most.
    So after all this, I really don't have an opinion lol except that students should go to school to learn and teachers to teach the subjects needed to graduate, spending less time in meetings and more in classrooms.