Many good teachers, but union agenda isn’t realistic

Political indoctrination common in Langley classrooms.

Editor: Thank you to Tom Fletcher (The Times, March 6) for a some background information and a reasonable voice about the hyperbole that is flying over the BCTF strike action. I think we have some excellent teachers doing a wonderful job with our students. It is my opinion that they have a union with an agenda that is neither fiscally realistic nor as focused on the best interests of the students as they would like us to believe.

He was optimistic in thinking that a teacher getting her Grade 1 students to write to the minister of education, complaining about his bullying of 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 from a sample of three Langley students 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 Stats 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.

The BCTF complains that 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 Teachers Association News, Sept. 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,