Protest posters in Grade 3 art class?

Re: BCTF indoctrinating our kids (B.C. Views, March 6).

Editor:

Re: BCTF indoctrinating our kids (B.C. Views, March 6).

I think we have some excellent teachers doing a wonderful job with our students. It is my opinion that they have a union that has an agenda that is neither fiscally realistic nor as focused on the best interests of the students as they would like us to believe.

Tom Fletcher was optimistic in thinking that a teacher getting her grade one students to write to the Minister of Education complaining about his bullying teachers was an anomaly.  I think this sort of political indoctrination by teachers has been a very common tactic in the lead up to the strike. Langley students were assigned to make protest posters for the strike as an art project, listened to rhetoric about class sizes, and propaganda about Alberta’s teachers making $20,000 more.

These are examples are from a sample of three Langley children I have spoken to. I would not object to a high school teacher asking their students to become familiar with the issues, and to research the validity of the union and government arguments, but to ‘teach’ these talking points is ethically wrong.

Do Alberta teachers make more? I tried to research that question. According to the Statistics Canada website (2010-2011 data) “Educators” in Alberta make about $1,500 per year more than they do in B.C. Stats Canada doesn’t separate teachers out of the mix, but most educators are teachers. Edmonton School Board has published their school calendar as 198 days long (2011-12 school year). Here in Langley next year they are proposing an extra day off in November and a two-week spring break, just as they did this year, resulting in 188 days of classes, so the Alberta teachers are working two extra weeks for their extra $1,500.

BCTF complains that their class sizes are too large, but Alberta teachers are teaching approximately 25 per cent more students than B.C. teachers as the average class size in Calgary high schools is nearly 40 students (Alberta Teacher’s Association News, Sep 13, 2011). Would this mean that the Alberta teachers are making less per student than the B.C. teachers?

We have many dedicated and hard working teachers, and a zero percent increase in their salaries is not what we would like to see for them, even in tight economic times. They do themselves only harm by propagating the half truths spouted by their union leaders.  In my opinion, a union that leads its workers into a strike is almost always a union that has failed in its duty to do the best that it can for its members, and the BCTF has failed repeatedly.

Barbara Chu, Langley

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Editor:

Bill 22, now before the Legislature is very, very alarming. It says, “There must not be included in a teachers’ collective agreement any provision a) establishing or imposing class size limits, requirements respecting average class sizes, or methods for determining class size limits or average class sizes.” That means teachers will never be able to bargain for the single most important working condition in their workplace and their students will never benefit from agreed upon and beneficial class sizes.

In 1970 I enrolled a class of 39 students in grades six and seven. It was a large but not unusual number. The BCTF was just beginning its campaign to educate parents, trustees and government about the problems with large classroom numbers. This campaign continued with some successes for the next 17 years. Collective begging is what we called it.

Finally in 1987 teachers’ locals became unions with the right to full collective bargaining. Class size language came into agreements with real and reliable improvements in learning and teaching conditions. In 1991, under our collective agreement, my grade seven class had 26 students and no class exceeded 30.

In 2002, after I’d retired, the Liberal government stripped class size from the, now provincial, agreement. The BCTF challenged the constitutionality of that Act and finally won in 2011. Now the Liberals are claiming they bargained in good faith this year and are bringing us Bill 22 to finish what they began 10 years ago. It was teacher action that brought about decent learning conditions and teacher agreements ensured they would continue.

Teachers are resisting 1970s class sizes for our children. They need our help.

Peter Thomson, Langley

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Editor:

I have just read an op-ed, written by Tom Fletcher, to which I would like to offer a brief response. I find it ironic that Mr. Fletcher accuses the BCTF of “indoctrinating our children.” There are some 40,000 teachers in British Columbia, and you will always find someone in every profession who does something you disagree with.

Indeed, I seem to recall a recent article in which an editor of a B.C. newspaper wrote an unfortunate editorial about the RCMP having pulled him over for a blood-alcohol check; nobody in his/her right mind would suggest this article sullied all editors’ reputations.

Above, I use the word “ironic” for a reason: every time I see an article criticizing teachers, I look at information below in small print and see the words Black Press. Now, who is doing the indoctrinating, or as the idiom goes, “the pot calling the kettle black?” — no pun intended.

John Dumas, Agassiz