‘Net zero’ for union rhetoric

In light of the rhetoric flying about with regard to the teachers' dispute with the provincial government I decided to do research.


In light of the rhetoric flying about with regard to the teachers’ dispute with the provincial government I decided to do a little research.

The regulations under the School Act require that students receive approximately five hours of instruction per day. (It varies from 4.75 hours for early grades, 5 hours for middle grades and 5.15 hours for high school.) There are required to be a minimum of 187 instructional days and a minimum of six non-instructional days and schools must be open a total of 194 days per year (source School Act, Sections 78, 175, Standard School Calendar). This works out to 38.8 weeks per year.

As most of the working population, who pay their salaries, work eight hours per day it does not seem unreasonable to me to expect teachers to do the same.  This would give them three hours per day to do lesson planning and preparation, report cards, administration duties and any extracurricular activities they choose to do. This does not take into account the 13.2 weeks that schools are not in session.

A new teacher fresh out of university is paid a minimum of $37,908 per annum, rising to $56,743 over time, with a very rich benefits package (source educationcanada.com). Not bad for less than 40 weeks of work.

The teachers in B.C. are currently paid more than the teachers in six other provinces.(Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland).

It seems to me that the current demand for smaller class sizes has more to do with saving teachers’ jobs than with quality of education. The student population is shrinking and fewer students means fewer teachers needed unless the student/teacher ratio can be reduced.

I think it is disgraceful for teachers to brainwash first graders into political action, and to hijack a serious problem like bullying as part of their rhetoric.

The reason that so many countries (such as Greece) are in dire financial straits is because the governments paid out more money than they were taking in, and racked up huge debts.

If the rest of the public sector workers are settling for net zero in their agreements, what makes the teachers different? To me, net zero means that the total budget increase cannot exceed zero, so if increases are paid out in one area, such as salaries, the savings must come from another part of the contract, such as benefits or working conditions.

One area in which I do agree with the teachers is the number of special needs students in a class with no extra help. To expect a teacher to cope with several special needs students is unreasonable, especially if those students have behavioural problems requiring more time than average to deal with them. Assistants should be provided for those students.

Yvonne Holden, Langley