Teachers work hard and deserve a pay raise

I have been in awe since the start of the school year at the workload and schedules the teacher has to maintain.

Editor: After reading the article in the Jan. 26 Times about the teachers’ demonstration at the malls, I felt compelled to respond.

I’m “just a mom.” I have two boys attending a small elementary school in Walnut Grove. They are in Grades 1 and 3. Because I don’t formally work at a full-time job, I am fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time at the school — mostly in the Grade 3 class. I have the opportunity to see firsthand what takes place on a daily basis in both the childrens’ educational lives as well as the teachers’ daily routines.

I have been in awe since the start of the school year at the workload and schedules the teacher has to maintain. I volunteer my time in the class to do a small part in helping with any “extras” the teacher or class needs.

Without knowing too much about the political side of the current strike, I am completely aware of what the teachers do on a day-to-day basis. In our Grade 3 class, there are 18 children, a number of whom have some form of obvious educational special needs.

All of the classes in the school share a SEA (special education assistant) and the Grade 3 class receives a very minimal amount of time from the SEA. I don’t know how they do it every day — all the planning and preparation that must take place even before the school day begins.

They are teaching the kids and trying to keep each child, regardless of any special needs, engaged in the lesson. This is followed by marking of tests and assignments, and then once again planning and preparing for the next day.

These teachers have dedicated their lives to our children — children who will one day become athletes, architects, landscapers, politicians and maybe even teachers.

To give you an example of the level of dedication, our Grade 3 teacher has been coming to school with a concussion after a serious car accident. She was forced to stay home for two and one-half days because of severe dizziness.

When she asked for a replacement teacher for those days, we were given four different substitutes for that short length of time. The kids had no consistency, and as parents we all know that routine is an integral part of any child’s life — especially the kids with special needs. Her level of dedication was obvious. The kids needed her and they needed consistency.

Any parent will tell you that we all only want the best for our children.  A great education should be at the top of everyone’s list. Teachers need to be treated fairly. Are any members of the B.C. Public Sector Employers Association not parents? Should “the best” not start with education?

Studies have shown that people in the workplace who feel they are appreciated and being treated fairly and with respect for a “job well done” will excel more and be more productive employees. Paying our teachers would logically make more sense then a shiny new bike.

The education of our children is the foundation of the future of our country. We, as parents, need to be a voice for our children. They deserve the best education possible by teachers who are respected and feel they are being treated fairly

In my opinion, a 15 per cent pay increase over three years (which by the way, includes their benefit package) seems like a lot, but we all know how negotiations work. Ask for a lot, and receive much less.

Athletes make millions of dollars and yet the people responsible for our kids and their future every day are still on strike.  Having made that comparison, 15 per cent really does not seem like that much.

I would be curious about the earnings of politicians and members of the BCPSEA, and how much daily influence and interaction they have with our children. How are they able to make informed decisions without truly knowing the consequences of their decisions?

I have heard parents going on about the teachers having it “so good.”  They enjoy a two-week March break, Christmas vacation and of course the whole summer off — without pay, I may add.

My husband is not a teacher and he does not have a glamorous job. He works very hard at a factory. He has Christmas off due to plant shutdown, without pay, and he is also entitled to a six-week vacation during the summer. For those overly vocal parents who think teachers have it so good, I ask why didn’t any of you become teachers if there are so many “perks?”

The answer is probably because it’s a very difficult job. For that, our teachers need fair compensation for all they do.

In conclusion, can we all somehow end this strike? Pay the teachers what they deserve, reinstate their contract and let’s get some normalcy back into our children’s lives. Enough is enough. Do we as parents need to start burning poles, like in Trafalgar Square, in order to be heard?

Elizabeth Woznica,