Can Any Government Get Along With B.C. Teachers?

Sure, it’s easy. Local governments  always got along quite well with  teachers. Here’s some strategies local governments used for years that provincial governments might consider employing.

  • Embrace the idea that teachers are professionals, with special and valuable training and skills. Tell teachers and the public this regulary. Preface each discussion and speech about education with this information.
  • Publicly express support for public education. Indicate that public education plays a valuable role in the intellectual and cultural development of our children and is one of the most successful initiatives undertaken by western societies.
  • Say that public education is not an expense but an investment, the best investment we can make in our country’s future.
  • Sugggest that teachers know how to plan, assess, and provide effective learning opportunites and that defending teacher’s professional autonomy is the best thing we can do to improve education. Cite B.C.’s international reputation for education excellence to substantiate this idea.
  • Say that teacher accountability is best when it’s local – accountability to students, parents, colleagues, and Principals – the best judges of effective student learning. Suggest that we should seek to strengthen local accountability, not centralized measurements.

Perhaps throw in a quote to illustrate the point:

           “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count: everything

             that counts cannot necessarily be counted…”

                                                                                   Albert Einstein

There are other non-monetary strategies available to government to  improve relations with teachers:

  • suggest that educators are best equipped to make education decisions, not people                       from unrelated fields;
  •  suggest that parent involvement in schooling should be predominantly at the local level not at the political level.

None of these strategies costs any money, but provincial  governments have not chosen                    to try them since 1994, when provincial  bargaining was first mandated.

I’m sure provincial governments would be pleasantly surprised  at how easy B.C.’s    teachers are to get along with if they tried some or all of the above strategies.



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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9 Responses to Can Any Government Get Along With B.C. Teachers?

  1. ianweniger says:

    Jim, your latest post was good until the last assertion about non-monetary suggestions. Our rulers see teachers’ suggestions as a loss for their bottom line: we want resources from tax revenues. And parental involvement is a gain: their choices for private schools take resources away from public ed and represent consumer dollars. Sol Ian


    • jimnelson806 says:

      True.Parent involvement is invaluable, especially in the middle of an ugly strike.It’s probably an indelicate time to make the point that parent involvement at the school level should not be political or operational, but philosophical.We need parents to voice their support for public education,but broad stroke philosophical input is different from operational involvement.

      I’ve sat through many school planning committee meetings with wonderful ,supportive parents who ,when asked to give significant input on operational decision making, felt unanimously uncomfortable doing so. Most parents want easy access to their local school and its direction, but they realize they’re not qualified to play with the trains.

      This government manipulates parent power- they try to use it politically, to divide parents and teachers, to imply that schools should be run by an oligarchy of parents, principals, and school trustees – they shouldn’t be, that’s why we have board office personnel, Principals, and well trained teachers.

      When school trustee elections come up, you need to ask only two questions;

      1) “Is being a school trustee a full time job? ”
      2) ” What would you do if a parent phoned you to complain about the actions of a teacher in your school district.?”

      A good trustee will answer the first question by saying “No,it’s not a full time job.Trustees are overseers who represent the community and make sure the public’s general interests are represented by district schools.Trustees shouldn’t be involved with developing programmes or hiring and firing people, we have hired professional people to do that sort of thing for us.”

      A good trustee would answer the second question by asking if the parent had spoken to the teacher, Principal, and asst. superintendent about the problem first. A good trustee is aware of the importance of protocol in addressing difficulties for the protection and benefit of all involved.

      What have school trustees got to do with parent involvement in schools? Neither is qualified to make operational decisions for schools.
      Teaching and education is a complex profession. Parents and school trustees need to be involved, but neither knows the ins and outs of running a school or school district.

      Parents who want to affect the education of their child should do so at their child’s school. There are plenty of opportunities to do so. Any school administrator who doesn’t involve parents when any significant direction is contemplated, is not serving the community well.

      Parents who want to make a more political contribution to schools should do so by seeking office.
      Neither parents nor School Trustees should play with the trains in public schools.


  2. G. Barry Stewart says:

    Jim, I’ve just retired, after 38 years of teaching in Hope.

    I must congratulate the admins of my school, who were supportive of their staff — as much as they could be — during the strike. They realized the strike was not about them and they realized that they’d have to work with (most of) the staff, once the strike was done. It rained a fair amount in June and the principal was the one who arranged for a canopy/shelter to be brought to the school and carried it in and out each day.

    In addition, the school district took the sting out of the teachers’ financial crunch by making an August advance payment, which would be paid back incrementally, once teachers were back at work. (I’m suspecting that Christy Clark didn’t know about this!)

    It was a long and tough struggle for teachers — but admins in Fraser Cascade showed a lot of respect for their staff… and I’m sure this will foster good relations in the coming years.


  3. jimnelson806 says:

    Barry – Glad to hear about the administration being supportive. Principals are managers, but first and foremost, they’re educators. While it may be difficult for them to discuss salary negotiations or take sides in a labour dispute, they should be defenders of public education and be willing to speak out about chronic underfunding.
    My good friend Stan Petersen is a retired Principal from Abbotsford – he’ll be glad to hear that Abby admin. were supportive of their colleagues.



  4. G. Barry Stewart says:

    Hope… not Abby (you may want to edit your response and chuck this one!)


  5. jimnelson806 says:

    Sorry , I guess I was thrown off by the “Fraser Cascade” reference – my apologies.


  6. BCTeacher says:

    You know who else should not play with the trains in the school – Superintendents


  7. BCTeacher says:

    You know who else should not be playing with the trains in the school? Superintendents.


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