LETTERS: Words of support for our teachers

Students from across Surrey organized a rally at Education Minister Peter Fassbender’s MLA office in Fleetwood. - Evan Seal photo
Students from across Surrey organized a rally at Education Minister Peter Fassbender’s MLA office in Fleetwood.
— image credit: Evan Seal photo


I am watching the teachers’ bargaining and am distressed by the lack of respect from the government and the lack of support from the public.

My family has many teachers in it; some retired, many still working. They are – without exception – dedicated, hardworking people who put in many extracurricular hours. They not only have the best interest of our children in mind but deserve to be fairly compensated.

It looks as if the government is deliberately trying to provoke a strike.

This is the same strategy they used during the last contract talks. It is clear that the government has all the power here, and the losers are our children and the teachers we rely on to educate our children.

I wonder what the MLAs would do if they had to bargain with their employers, the general public!

Teresa Hotell, Surrey

• • •

A deal between government and teachers should be easy to get, but it can’t happen without increased funding.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender’s suggestion that they can negotiate all summer, while not providing funding, is disingenuous.

Teachers are currently looking at the following:

• salary – four zeros, where inflation is two per cent per year and B.C. teachers are the second worst paid teachers in Canada in the most expensive province;

• class size and composition – two court orders ignored; Fassbender and Premier Christy Clark should have their pay docked 10 per cent;

• this year’s funding for public schools is flat, causing school boards to cut everywhere, while private school funding has been increased

It is not on teachers to compromise – they already have.

And they are rightly standing up to Clark’s irresponsible and reckless mismanagement of our public-education resource that she is obliged to protect.

If she won’t, she should resign.

Mike Sapic, Surrey

• • •

Open open letter to Education Minister Peter Fassbender.

The Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) is not the solution you purport it to be on the airwaves and TV.

Presently, your government uses it to address class size, composition and specialist ratios at the school/district levels, rather than at the bargaining table.

The LIF will never properly meet student needs, as it is structured on a cumbersome, flawed process.

In order to receive funding to improve “learning conditions,” there is a four-step process, twice a year, involving principals, teachers, superintendents and the union. This is a waste of time and energy for little funding and less flexibility. Tallying up needs in every class takes time away from teaching, as it is based on exhausting student evaluation and redundancy year after year.

Students who require psycho-educational testing – not done by a learning support or special-education teacher – and have not received it, because they are new or are on a two- and three-year wait list, are not counted in the tally.

Classroom teachers are “consulted” on composition, but perhaps the teacher accepts class configuration because it alleviates split classes, not because it keeps down the number of students with special needs in the class.

Conversely, splits are often unavoidable because there are insufficient funds. Thus, thousands of classes are over in numbers of special-needs students.

Perhaps the principal prefers to allocate the funding to increasing teaching-assistant time or child-care worker time. Then LIF puts added stress on staff who do not agree with the decisions or on learning-support staff whose caseloads often exceed 70 students. Result, lack of one-on-one teaching for the most vulnerable.

In some schools, the LIF is used to give assistants collaboration and planning time, yet specialist teachers have to collaborate, attend school-based teams, meet with other teachers, professionals and parents outside of paid time, again to the detriment of teacher health.

It becomes a smorgasbord of service from one district to another, from one school to the next, leaving parents at a loss when changing schools.

Lack of funding has resulted in fewer librarians, special-ed teachers, ESL, counsellors, psychologists, speech and language therapists, teachers of the gifted, etc.

The only reason public schools in B.C. have not fallen apart is because of the hard work, dedication and sacrifice of teachers, but for how long I ask?

Niovi Patsicakis, Surrey



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