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LETTERS: Educated arguments
Re: Unique class of negotiation, June 24 letters.
As a retired teacher who taught in the B.C. public school system for 32 years, I feel duty-bound to correct the letter from G. Reid.
The Employment Standards Act applies to all employees in B.C., including teachers. Teachers do not receive any ‘special’ treatment.
• Full-time teachers get “Saturday and Sunday off” because they work Monday to Friday.
• There are only 10 statutory holidays permitted in B.C. Teachers receive no compensation for Canada Day, B.C. Day or Labour Day. Therefore, they actually only ‘get’ seven statutory holidays, not 11.
• Three of these seven statutory holidays (New Year’s Day, Good Friday and Christmas Day) occur during spring break and Christmas holidays. They are part of the vacation time, not days off in addition to the holidays.
• The number of professional days in a school year is dictated by the Ministry of Education. It is generally five or six, not 10.
• Teachers do get time off in July and August; a two-month school break is common the world over. Many teachers use this time to upgrade their credentials, preview new materials and prepare curricula for the next school year. It is common for many teachers to return to their schools by mid-August to prepare for the upcoming year. They are not paid a salary for this time.
• The reference to “the days off during their annual strike” is both insulting and blatantly incorrect. There have been few teacher strikes in this province, and every teacher I know would gladly be back in their classrooms teaching their students.
• I have no idea what the writer is referring to by “the odd study sessions” nor how these constitute time away from instruction. All study sessions, staff meetings, district workshops and the like occur before or after classes and are simply an extension of the teacher’s work day. Teachers receive no overtime pay.
• The number of minutes, hours, and days that classes must be in session is dictated by the provincial government. “Students being dismissed one hour early every Friday” cannot happen unless this time is made up elsewhere during the week and the dismissal time is approved by trustees and the district.
• To say “teachers are only teaching for less than six months in the year” and that schools are only in session “half the time” is absurd. In fact, public schools in B.C. are in session for more hours than most other jurisdictions in the western world.
While freedom of speech is a good thing, prior to writing a letter to the editor, or an essay, or participating in a debate or discussion, it is essential to get one’s facts straight. This is what I taught my students.
Susan Davidson, Surrey
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Regarding the teachers’ strike, why do the teachers hide behind the kids and face the real reason, and that is benefits and money?
They are sending a very bad message to the future adults of this great country. Shame on you.
John Reid, White Rock
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It should be pointed out that our education minister, sporting a high-school education, makes over $150,000 per year, working a much shorter year than teachers, with a very generous pension scheme and the ability to claim expenses for spousal allowance, transportation and housing. He, as well as all other MLAs, gets an automatic cost-of-living raise every year, too.
John Wright, Surrey