Just as B.C.s teachers were beginning to wonder if the bombing had stopped and they could peek out of their foxholes in search of reasoned détente, B.C.s right wing machine has unleashed its fury on Public Education and B.C.s teachers.
Yes, the same machine that for thirty years has crucified N.D.P governments with withering carpet-bombing has turned its guns on public education and teachers.
The Vancouver Sun publishes a six-page section lauding private schools. It looks like an advertising flyer, complete with testimonials and Fraser Institute data about the wonder of the private school experience.
C.K.N.W. kicks in daily on its talk shows, interviewing teachers who don’t support the B.C.T.F and people who insist that B.C. spends $500 more per student than other provinces on education, even though they know it not to be true.
Online anti education trolls, recently dormant, are re invigorated by the suddenly incendiary rhetoric of high profile anti teacher Tweeters.
The machine fills the air with vitriol. It’s inescapable.
Gone are any reasoned analyses. Gone is any broad view of the success and importance of public education or the professionalism of teachers.
A media that only reluctantly reported on disgraceful government bargaining behaviour had lazily regressed into a tedious ‘pox on both their houses” stance.
But that’s all over now. The machine calls, and predictably, they answer.The enemy is on its knees, time to move in and finish him off.
And as their prey lies wounded in the smoke, they compete to be the one seen to have delivered the coup de grace.
We’ve seen it so often in this province. Never underestimate the power of the right wing media machine in B.C.
But this time, the machine isn’t just helping to destroy politicians, it’s facilitating the destruction of a school system.
Teachers stay resolute, you may be down but they haven’t beaten you yet. Parents, Grandparents, British Columbians, stand firm in your support of Public Education and the Teachers of B.C.
I’ve just finished reading your latest post although reading it saddens me as a long-time teacher, especially in light of how many articles, interviews, blogs and video clips were produced explaining what students and teachers experience during the school day with less and less funding and support. I have so appreciated reading your education posts since discovering them during the job action we’ve been mired in since May. I have also appreciated how you have articulated exactly the education issues we are facing, the attitude of our current government toward public education and the possible (probable?!?) results for our public education system if we continue on the way we seem to be heading. I also loved your recent post (Google it- it’s Unanimous) comparing the present BC education situation to the Finnish education system. It would be great if everyone could read that, especially the people in charge of our education system.
I did see the section entitled Education Options in the Saturday Vancouver Sun that you mentioned above and also heard on the news this week that the numbers of people looking into private education has gone up. While our current job action may play some part, I think comments on the front page of that particular newspaper section also play a big part. The family that was interviewed about sending their children to private school stated that they discovered class sizes were generally smaller (something Public School teachers are asking for) and that the class makeup is more conducive to challenging learning (another big issue Public School teachers are asking to have addressed). They also commented on the fact that there are never more developmentally or behaviourally challenged students than the teachers can accommodate and that there is adequate support staff (Hmm, another area we Public School teachers would like to have addressed). It was not exactly a surprise that the family who were interviewed found that their children’s academic results improved. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the Public Schools could boast of the same learning conditions as that particular private school!!!
I have taught for 27 years at a school with a highly vulnerable and at risk population. Four cycles of E.D.I.’s (Educational Developmental Inventories) showed that 50% to 75% of our students enter Kindergarten at risk in multiple areas of social, academic, behavioural and emotional development. Since class size and composition affects my teaching every day as well as the learning and class time of my students every day, it is especially infuriating that this government is not actually dealing with this and other important issues but instead is just delaying, not truly bargaining and trying to blame the teachers for all of it!
While I’m hoping that the new meetings between our team and the government will actually resolve the stalemate and produce a fair and reasonable contract, I am feeling more and more disheartened at the possibility that this will go on and on with no end in sight. It is simply unbelievable that the start of school so close at hand and we still don’t have an agreement!
Thanks for your thoughtful response Carol. I’m sorry if my recent blog rained on the parade a bit.
I just feel sick about the plight of public education and teachers and I guess I’m losing confidence in the common sense of British Columbians, who seem to unquestionably accept the anti public education ethos promoted by this incredibly shortsighted government and its right wing machine.
The hate our friends and neighbours spew based on no knowledge at all is so difficult to accept.
I’m a retired educator, but both my kids are new teachers, struggling to start out.They are idealistic and enthusiastic and think teaching is a higher calling, which it is, or always has been.
But when I see the money they make, the expectations they face,the stupidities of decision makers, the attacks they suffer from their government and a vocal, ignorant constituency of media and online types, I don’t see much respect for the noble profession I was proud to be a part of for 35 years.
I don’t know how it will be possible for them to be in a classroom for 35 years. The conditions are too stressful.
Neither of my children will be able to buy a house for years, they scrimp for even moderate expense.
They’ve lost thousands of dollars to a bunch of dishonest idealogues and are being blamed for it.
It’s the Spanish Inquisition in Public Education today.
School kids are still great,they always will be, but their parents will be leaving public schools in droves- already are, in the mistaken notion that private schools offer a better education, that competition,testing , uniforms, rigour,compliance, and having their children avoid society’s riff raft is the ticket to success.
How wrong they are,how unappreciative of what public schools do for children and our country; and how their kids may well pay the price for their parents mis-perceptions in the future in stress, depression, prozac…
School isn’t about scrabbling to the top – that’s a huge misperception that private schools purvey and parents swallow.
I wish the best for you, and my own children.
Despite my slight morosity, I will be working tirelessly( well,somewhat), to defend public education from the cretins; but right now, I feel we’re all howling at the moon or a better metaphor, we’re a bit like King Canute, sitting on the shore trying hard to hold back the tide.
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Excellent, succinct analysis of the complex horror show that has been going on under SocredneoLiberalreformers; they want a capitalist structure akin to the US and a two-tiered system that separates the haves and the have nots. A civilized democracy does not do such things.
You’re right, it is bigger than just an education issue – it’s another phalanx of the attack on the middle class that is being waged continent wide.
It’s strange that most Canadians are resolute in their opposition to two tier health care yet completely embrace two, even three tiered education.
They mistakenly think “school choice” means more choice for everyone, when in fact it means school choice for some, and no choice but downtrodden public schools for the majority.
The right may well have gone too far, though. Maybe my view is just a reflection of the company I keep, but it seems to me that there’s a wind of change blowing –a correction in the weather. People aren’t buying the trickle-down gobblety-gook that’s being pandered by hard core capitalists. Even the notorious International Monetary Fund has backed off on its austerity ethic. Wishful thinking?
Maybe wishful thinking, but probably better than the glass half empty perspective of that last blog of mine – i ‘ll slap myself cheerful.
You may be right (correct) about the right’s overreach, especially in light of the continuous upward re-distribution of wealth going on in all western countries. At some point, something has to give – the 99% will have to respond at some time.
At the risk of name dropping, I just slogged through Thomas Picketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century”, which completely exposes and documents the historical distribution of wealth.
It’s a bit of an economics textbook , but it makes the inevitability of wealth disparity clear and completely indefensible – highly recommmend. ( I will never say “It’s a good read…)
Wow! Talk about a posting kncikong my socks off!
Thanks for keeping the conversation going Jim! As always, you manage to point out what people need to hear. (too bad most of the CKNW crowd will never read this!) Every teacher I know just wants to be able to meet every child’s needs, which does mean that class size, composition and support need to be properly funded! B.C. should have a world class education system that the public wants to send their kids to. People, please keep up the conversation – let the Right know how it really is out there. Speak up for the kids. Keep writing and calling all levels of boards and government and tell them to put more money into our students’ education!
Hey Hi Vicki.
Glad to hear from an old (well, ex) colleague.
You’re right, it’s a very disturbing time in Public education and we’ve got to keep on it.
The government thinks this dispute is about teachers wanting power,and it’s just not. Teachers aren’t after power.
Christy Clark and the 2001 crowd, feel very strongly that teachers had “taken over” education during the 80’s and 90’s,that there needed to be a re adjustment of governance – it had to be clear that teachers worked for the Ministry,instead of how it should be, which is the other way around – the Ministry should work to support teachers.
They thought local bargaining had institutionalized high education costs and above all, that Glenn Clark had given away the farm with his class size/comp. agreement with teachers in 1998.
With this sticking in their Socred craws,they set out to trim the sails, take back “power” and re-establish teachers as government workers,not professionals.
The continued resistance of teachers to policy that was clearly harmful to public education and kids, has hardened Christy Clark frighteningly, to the point that she wants to “win” so badly she’s willing to destroy public education in B.C.
I don’t think destroying public education was her goal all along, I think she’s come to it in recent years and she’s beyond retreat now.
And back in 2002, all she had to do was let it go – let educators run schools and teachers teach. B.C. schools were working, students were thriving,public education was exciting and vibrant.
The B.C. school system that is still being lauded as one of the best in the world is a remnant of that system, when teachers “ran” public education. It won’t be long until B.C. students, graduates of the slash and burn years, will start performing poorly internationally, which paradoxically will provide rationale to encourage more
private school “choice” and even less public school funding.
Educators know about learning and teaching and assessment and planning. Educators should be the decision makers,not people who know nothing about education.
Most lay people don’t even know what’s important about public education, what it gives kids and the community.They think it’s about learning stuff ,competing,”succeeding”. They can learn online, or at home, or in a segregated private school with high stakes exams and uniforms. More “rigour”, “back to basics”, standardized measures of accountability.
And that’s all nonsense. It’s all the opposite of what actually works – having Johnny and Mary excited about coming to Ms. Weger’s class because it’s fun and they feel safe that’s what works.If you have that, they’re learning fine.If you’re “motivating” them by using carrots and sticks, they won’t learn anything long term, other than how to avoid sticks and get carrots.
I know what kids remember about you, and what they remember about me, and it isn’t great worksheets or rigourous exams or homework or detentions.I hope what I helped them learn was more profound than that.
I’m reading a lot about Finnish schools. Wow, they really have it nailed. Any educator that hasn’t read “Finnish Lessons ” by Pasi Sahlberg, the muse of Finnish education, should. It’s a primer on what works in a school system and and how to get there.
Teachers don’t want power, they want to empower. Oh, I like that, I’m off to Twitter.
This is all part of a larger genda, qite frankly. You see the Fiberals destroying public education in order to drive parents to private schools. Once this is done, then the privates can raise their pricing as high as they like, the current education budget will be wide open for theft and give-aways to their friends, and teachers can be made to work for minimum wage.
This same war is going on in the health care arena with open warfare declared on Paramedics, LPN’s, and others. This government and all like them in North America are on the same path and follow the same mantra, Government of the few, by the few, for the wealthy.
It behooves us to teach our children the evils of this style of government, and that, if we do not fight them, we are doomed to repeat the miseries of history again.
Thanks for your continued voice, Jim. I have freshly joined the ranks of the retired (after 38 years in BC public schools) — but will continue to vocally support my former colleagues. I’ll be out on the picket lines until this thing is done.
The BCTF is a Union, what’s happening in BC right now has been going on for many years in this province. The attack on unions by the extreme right is nothing new, and mostly ignored by the teaching profession. It is unfortunate that the students are caught up in lesson being learned by the teachers. Teachers are learning that right wing governments will stop at nothing to defeat unions ie. destroying the public education system by deceit and the manipulation of facts, using the weak and right wingers in the union to manipulate the media, which generally is anti union (see global tv) 2.5 times as much time for the gov. than the union, repeating anything said by the gov. as if were true. Good reporting requires a will and some effort to discover the truth, sadly missing from the corporate entities that control our media. I wish the teachers the best in their fight for public education, it’s not just students that need to be educated. Don’t be discouraged the hardships you face will make you stronger, smarter and more appreciative of your fellow man.
I agree,Bob. The BCTF was a “federation of professionals” until forced to become a union by Bill Vanderzalm in the 70’s.Teachers were offered a choice between remaining a “professional federation” with no bargaining rights and going union with full bargaining rights- the vote was very close – teachers were reluctant union converts, especially since at the same time, Vanderzalm kicked school principals and vice principals out of the federation and made them “management.”
School administrators were a powerful force for public education in the old BCTF and were a serious loss to teacher’s bargaining clout.
I say this not to criticise teacher’s union membership or unions in general but to remind people that teachers are not “militant” at all. Rather, they are,
recent and reluctant union members who, as you correctly point out,weren’t in the vanguard of the labour movement’s many battles over the years.
It cuts both ways however – before teachers became a union, they had little support from the union movement.
But that’s over now, and teachers are important and enthusiastic members of the BCFED. They need the support of labour and have responsibility to reciprocate when other union colleagues are in need.
You’re also right about lazy reporting – there are fewer and fewer investigative reporters out there. They just parrot each other’s gotcha labour stories about union strategy and union members who don’t agree with their unions actions. – that’s what we’ll hear a lot of in the next few days and weeks, along with stories about how marvelous private schools are.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Bob.