Ross Road Voices

Advocacy Ross Road has been following the Job Action situation closely and encourages Ross Road parents to stay informed about the issue as well.

As food for thought, here is a letter written by a Ross Road parent, Janice Sardari:

“I am quite concerned with public education.  I believe it to be the most essential institution in a democratic society and should be as well funded as possible.

I believe both organizations (the BC Ministry of Education and the BC Teachers’ Federation) are wrong on several fronts. Firstly, the vile rhetoric used is not acceptable in professional discourse.  Use of the words “bully” and “unreasonable”, for example, elicit strong feelings but only serve to cloud the real issues and the search for solutions.  If I, as a professional in a high speed and high stress work environment, would behave towards an employer or employee in such a manner my organization would have no hope of being successful.  Professionals should not be behaving in this manner.  Success in any organization is dependent on both sides having a vested interest in the other’s success.  The union versus the government paradigm doesn’t have a clear, mutually beneficial dynamic because there isn’t a clear benchmark for success that would directly impact the parties.  Neither side can legitimately claim interest in outcomes for students because as usual every “negotiation” undertaken between the BCTF and the government seems to boil down to the dynamic of job action and legislative action which negatively affects the learning environment and poisons the working environment.

I generally disapprove of professionals being unionized and believe that policy decisions such as curriculum, delivery of instruction, class size/composition, hours of instruction should be decided by the College of Teachers in collaboration with parents and government and then enacted into law separate from the agreement which remunerates teachers. I have high regard for many of the teachers I’ve dealt with in the last few years.  I believe teachers are educated, well-spoken individuals who can be convinced by compelling arguments and will do what is right.  I am all for the teachers earning a fair salary based on hours worked per year, qualifications/effectiveness, market pressures and the economy.

I do not believe the BCTF is serving its membership well in that:

  • Most of the public does not have a clear understanding of what is being asked.  What we hear from individual teachers is not reflected by what is published by the BCTF
  • The “with us or against us” sentiment which permeates the BCTF publicity is alienating to the general public, after all the education system is very complicated with countless moving parts.
  • The union does not appear to have any foresight, spending more than we have has implications for generations to come. There are many economies in the world where generations of teachers will be penalized for the demands of past ones.  Solutions must be found which consider how the tax base will pay for public services.

The government on the other hand is shirking its responsibilities to the taxpayers and students by:

  • Not sitting at the table
  • Requiring the parent community to fund programs which are mandated in the schools act such as library and computing resources
  • Not adequately protecting the funding levels from economic pressures
  • Inadequately balancing public service needs with revenue generation.  There is a balance between low corporate taxes and revenue which has tipped too far in favour of the corporation.

And clearly denying teachers a wage increase while earning unreasonable salaries themselves is an untenable position to take.

It is a very sticky situation and I believe parents, students and even administrators are left in the cold.  I think part of the issue may be that parents have been removed from the equation by “education and parenting professionals” who have created an onslaught of media which puts in doubt parents’ ability, right and responsibility to educate our kids.  It’s important for parents to realize that we are ultimately the boss by actively participating in the schools, paying taxes, voting and speaking out.  It is also time for legislators to achieve a long lasting (longer than the single term) solution to funding education and for both parties to find a way to quell the adversarial nature with which you approach negotiations.”

— Janice Sardari


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