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Blame-the- teacher" agenda threatens education

Tara Ehrcke

November 23, 2011

The BC Public Schools Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) is threatening to lock out the province’s teachers, in response to job action designed to push contract negotiations forward.

The BCPSEA Board consists of both elected trustee representatives as well as appointed government representatives. They are under the direction of PSEC–the Public Sector Employers’ Council, who are clearly an arm of government and who dictate the terms of bargaining.

When the Liberals first came to power, they enacted special legislation that mandated that teachers be an essential service. In 2002 this government unilaterally legislated teachers back to work and imposed a three-year contract that was not negotiated. In 2005 they again legislated teachers back to work but teachers stayed out regardless.

This government has been intent on stopping any job action by teachers and instead are using a legislative hammer to force an end to disputes. The result has been low morale and frustration.

The BC Teachers’ Federation is conducting a phase one job action. Teachers are not attending evening events or monthly staff meetings. They are not attending the once yearly “meet-the-teacher” or “formal” parent-teacher interviews.

But teachers are continuing to meet with each other and to have department meetings without administration. They are continuing to contact parents and communicate regularly. They are continuing extra curricular activities. They are teaching full time. Many teachers are using the few freed up hours to do additional lesson preparation. Many are using the time for additional one-on-one support for students with particular learning needs. Many are saying that teaching and learning haven’t been better in years.

Teachers are fighting back against the BCPSEA agenda to bring in US-style education “reform.” Proposals include the virtual elimination of seniority, the removal of any due process requirements for teacher evaluations, the ability to force a teacher to move to another job merely with one month’s notice, and the ability to fire a teacher after a single evaluation.

The US “blame-the-teacher” reform agenda is political. It is about commodifying and privatizing education. It is a total rejection of the notion of equity. Instead of quality, equal access, and equal opportunity, it promotes competition, consumer driven models and private service delivery.

The end result? Very good schools that are hyper-competitive for the rich. Pretty awful schools for the poor. Struggling schools for everyone in between. Is this where we want to go?

If you would like to show support, please contact your local school trustees and let them know we need a solution, not to take teachers out of the classroom.

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