Editor: I am writing regarding the insulting “We Say” editorial of July 3, regarding the B.C. Public School Employers Assocdiation/B.C. Teachers Federation agreement.
The editorial failed to outline any of the issues that are important not only to educators, but to the public. It characterized the dispute as about “demands for exorbitant wage increases and time off for the flimsiest of reasons,” and completely omitted the fact that government has taken $3.3 billion out of education over the last decade, resulting in severe underfunding and lack of services for our most vulnerable students.
Being robbed of the right to bargain class size and composition was the linchpin of the dispute for teachers, but since the BCTF was never allowed to put the issue on the table, the issue was seemingly invisible to the public.
Ironically, the dispute was only ever centered around wages in the eyes of the media, with every newscast echoing “15 per cent demand,” when in fact it was an opening bargaining position that was dropped back in the early winter when the BCTF announced it was willing to move on all issues on the bargaining table.
The government refused to make any similar concessions and instead proceeded with legislating rather than negotiating through Bill 22. The editorial paints the government as being only at fault for letting “this dispute drag on for far too long,” as though it would be advisable for a government to have more powers than denying its citizens the right to bargain or strike.
If you want to characterize the dispute accurately, you must include the fact that the B.C. Supreme Court itself has ruled that the government has acted unconstitutionally towards teachers. It was given a year to fix the situation and to allow teachers to once again be allowed to discuss class size and composition, and that year has come and gone with no effort on the government’s part to abide by the Supreme Court decision.
The conditions that affect teachers affect students and families too. I am disappointed in The Times. People should care what happens to public education and stand up for it, rather than vilify the people who actually do.