Enjoying life, off the hamster wheel
For those of you who don’t know, BC teachers are on strike. Our friend, Mike, wrote an open letter to the Premier of BC and posted it on his Facebook feed. I’m reposting it here, with his permission:
Dear Premier Clark and Minister Fassbender,
Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your efforts to gain control of education spending in this province. It is obvious that no true reform can begin until the Teacher’s Union has been starved, depleted of resources and crushed under foot, the more mercilessly the better. This is the approach you should take to all opponents of your plans and ideas; ambulance drivers, environmentalists and kindergarteners, to name but a few.
I completely support your methods for achieving this end, and let me add that those methods are totally in line with the aims that the teachers themselves claim to promote. Preparing children for life in the real world is a core purpose of the education system, one that you bring about most effectively. Telling the public one thing, i.e. “we are making progress”, all the while doing something completely different, i.e. actually reducing your salary offer, prepares young people for the duplicitous nature of life, something to which they should become accustomed early. Now they can, thanks to your shining examples.
And I admire your principles. To those who claim you have none, I say what about your respect for the law? You adhere steadfastly to the ideal that government- elected, democratic government- is the pinnacle of all leadership. Anyone claiming a higher authority is to be ignored completely, just as you are doing with the BC Supreme Court and both of its highly spurious and inconvenient rulings against your own supreme might. After all, a government receives a mandate from the people; courts are merely appointed. Judgments don’t need to be adhered to just because those who deliver them have several University degrees and years of experience on the bench.
By the way, I must compliment you both on the heights you have attained in life, seeing as neither of you have earned any post-secondary degree or diploma at all. You are role models to those who may not have the smarts or ethics to get a degree but who are well connected enough to still achieve real success- the kind that matters anyway; money and power. Any other criteria are fit only for liberal hippies. Take that, you education supporters, or schoolies as I like to call them. (Please note that I used the small “l” liberal for hippies. We all know that your party is “Liberal” in name only.) Once again, you are the real teachers in this province, demonstrating the truth of that old adage, “it’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know.” The sooner everyone learns that, the better.
To that end, I am a huge fan of your policy to provide ever more public money for private schools. While public schools still provide an excellent education, according to the statistics, the learning isn’t the point. It’s the connections one makes in the schoolyard, the bonding over hazing rituals, the mixing with the right sort of people that makes private school such an important experience for young people. Although, as public schools rely more and more on fees and PAC fund raising, won’t the two systems become identical? How will people know which schools are funded by parent fees, and which are funded by parent FEES, if you know what I mean? Will the Fraser Institute rankings be enough? It’s just something I worry about.
My only criticism is that you might be more specific with the terms of the contract you will soon impose on the teachers. Not too soon, I know. After all, you did say that you would not rush to legislate and the BC Liberals would never go back on their word. In the contract negotiations your response to too many of the BCTF proposals is simply “that’s negotiable”. I appreciate that you can’t tip your hand too early, but I think clearer language would be more reassuring to your supporters lest we get the idea that you might actually settle this before the BCTF has been taught their lesson. I think language like “when Hell freezes over” or, “in a pig’s eye” would be much more honest, but I’m not one to lecture; you are the experts here. This is just my humble opinion. Keep up the good work.
For those of you who don’t know what’s going on in our corner of the world, in a nutshell, it was time for contract negotiations between the BCTF (BC Teacher’s Federation, the teacher’s union) and the BC government this year. In the middle of negotiations, the government walked away from the table and locked-out the teachers, but not just any old lock-out. The government made teachers an essential service a few years ago, so the lock out was that the teachers were only allowed to teach during classroom time, and NOT oversee kids in the playground, or do extra work, or, or, or… For a good blog post about that by a teacher, read this: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Letter+from+teacher+Christy+Clark+goes+viral/9876692/story.html that went viral on Facebook in May. The teachers responded by organizing rotating strikes, so schools were only closed for one day on a rotational basis in order to cause the least upset to the learning environment.
Four years ago a similar thing happened, and the optics are that the government is deliberately eroding the public education system. The history is complex and far reaching; our Premier, Christie Clark, was involved in deliberately trying to provoke a strike in 2012: http://www.vancouversun.com/Premier+Christy+Clark+involved+BCTF+strike+strategy/9500416/story.html
Here are some links detailing what has been going on, with commentary, including information on the BC Supreme Court’s decision that sided with the BCTF to comply with the demands from the last go-round. The gov’t has cleverly circumvented this ruling by bouncing it over to the BC Court of Appeal. Anyway, read on, MacDuff:
Current Vancouver Sun article detailing the issues, as well as the demands: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Timeline+long+troubled+bargaining+history+teachers+provincial+government/9864912/story.html
One teacher’s open letter and analysis of the situation: http://tprsquestionsandanswers.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/dear-christy-clark/
Huffington Post article on the court ruling: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/01/27/bc-teachers-court-fine-contract_n_4676029.html
Here’s a blog post from 2005 for some back history of disputes between the BC Liberals & the BCTF: http://blogs.ubc.ca/ross/2005/10/timeline-of-the-dispute-between-bc-teachers-and-provinical-government/
These days, as you can see, things are not going well for education in our province. Meanwhile, our Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has given Enbridge the green light to build a pipeline from the tar sands in Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, BC.
To all the parents out there, give your kids’ teachers an apple and appreciate the work they do. And try to lessen your dependence on fossil fuels. Your kids will appreciate a world where they too, can grow delicious, wholesome apples to give to their children’s teachers when they’re grown up. If there are any public school teachers, or a healthy world to grow apples in.