New Rule #4 in Teacher’s Dispute

New Rule #4 in the Teacher’s Bargaining Dispute

When discussing B.C.’s education strike, everyone must stop referring to the “affordability zone.”

The “affordability zone”, touted as a legitimate target for both sides in B.C.’s education dispute is not an immutable law of economics; it’s just a little circle, arbitrarily drawn by someone on a napkin at the Bengal Lounge in Victoria.

The “affordability zone” is whatever the government deems it to be. It’s the money that’s left for public education after the money spent on a thousand other budget priorities more important than public education. (Fill in the blanks here – stadium roof, tax breaks, M.L.A. salary increases, pushing the H.S.T., court costs…)

Had we decided in 2002 that tax cuts for the rich were outside of an hypothetical “affordability zone”, reasonable budgets for public education and teachers might have landed within a larger “affordability zone” circle on the Bengal Lounge napkin, perhaps beside some spilled Korma from the sumptuous curry bar.

The fact that government chooses to spend our tax revenues on other priorities doesn’t make funding public education outside the “affordability zone”,  it makes it a “low priority.”

There is no “affordability zone.” It’s disingenuous to even mention it.
Government funding for education has been set at 0% for 2014, 2015, and 2016 (the equivalent to a 300 million dollar funding cut each year).
If that’s “affordable”, for our province,public schools,and children, we’re in big trouble.

Encouraging both sides to bargain “within the affordability zone” suggests that there is bargaining to be done once both sides get into that magical, money free zone.

It suggests that perhaps once teachers get into the “affordability zone” they might opt to bargain for even less than the government’s offer.

Feigning a sincere desire that both sides get into the “affordability zone”
is meaningless and obtuse rhetoric.

So, instead of urging “both sides” to get into the imaginary “affordability zone”, the government must more accurately describe its bargaining position;

“We sincerely hope that both sides will grow up and reach a negotiated agreement that includes a six year annual salary cut for teachers, a three year, 300 million dollar per year education funding cut, and no mention of the 3.75 billion dollars stripped from education budgets since 2002 or any and all related court judgments.”

Schools, Politics and Other Stuff

About jimnelson806

Educational consultant from Port Moody. "The Stuff Isn't What's Important" " School Wide Discipline Programmes Don't Work" " Vice Principals are crucial towards setting direction"
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12 Responses to New Rule #4 in Teacher’s Dispute

  1. Great post! I have been saying that same thing…although not as well as you have here!


  2. Colin Bailey says:

    What really gets me about this “affordability zone” is that it encompasses, among other things, the restoration of funds that were taken from education with the illegal contract strips in 2002. Peter Cameron was quoted on a CBC radio news piece this morning once again stating that the BCTF needs to get into this “zone” and yet there was no elaboration on what this means, exactly.


    • jimnelson806 says:

      Get used to it. They’ve adopted the “affordability zone” as their new mantra. They’ll speak as if they wished they could give teachers a raise , but the affordability zone just won’t allow them to, what with all the other unions signing on to multi year salary cuts.

      The ironic thing is that they are whipsawing teachers with the salary settlements of other unions – when the teachers did this in local bargaining, the government (Mike Harcourt 1994 ) objected so much to the practice that he legislated teachers into provincial bargaining. Now that whipsawing teachers is working for government, it’s just fine.


  3. Pamela McLeod says:

    Jim, has this been sent out to the media? It is very well-written, and I would love to have the wider public hear it.


  4. Mike McElgunn says:

    Exactly! I’ve been thinking the same thing. Depressing, really. The conversation and the media are so controlled by Cameron, Clark and de Jong. They keep repeating the same phrases so people think it must be true. No one calls them on it. What a convoluted bargaining process this has been.


  5. MrMunro says:

    Ah, the Bengal Lounge. Brings back memories of Len Norris and his editorial cartoons.


  6. William says:

    Holy cow. A retired Principal. How did you keep your job?


    • jimnelson806 says:

      I worked in Coquitlam,a very progressive district- and I was a little less strident and irascible than I am now. I was always critical of government underfunding but until now I always thought education cuts were just shortsighted.

      We’ve now entered a twilight zone, where government is vengeful, clearly anti teacher and public education.


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