3 thoughts on “… and Try Out This Zone of Acceptability …”

  1. When will teachers recognize that there is a finite amount of money and it takes prioritization to determine what it can be spent on? If it is truly for the kids, then drop the wage demands and let the money be devoted to resources and programs. Why the constant challenge
    with math by not adding cost of living and benefit costs when calculating the proposed increase? These are not free.

    Teachers are well paid. In what reality is it justified to ask for $3000 in massages every year? That alone gives them zero credibility. And why do they need a special food bank just for them after only a few days without work? They need to go to the real food bank with actual poor people for some reality and perspective – and then realize how well off they are.

    1. Hi Dusty: I think that you might know that I’m all about accurate numbers and the transparency of them. The long-standing issue is that 12 years ago teachers did exactly as you are proposing – took 0-0-2 in exchange for contractually-prescribed resources into programs and services (which are both kids’ learning environments and our working conditions). The end result is that that contract was soon unilaterally ripped up. That has finally led to the two relatively recent BC Supreme Court decisions and impending Court of Appeal this fall. That is really the negotiating “elephant-in-the-closet”. The Supreme court ruled twice that the BC Libs weren’t bargaining in good faith with sworn testimony from the gov’t that they had taken $275 million dollars out of the system per year these past 12 years. This money was already in the system and it’s political will that can re-distribute it right back in. The last Supreme Court ruling specifically stated that the previous contract (the one with prescribed resources) was now in effect. The BC Libs are appealing that.

      So the court case is the big thing and neither side is going to sign away anything that jeopardizes their positions. It’s a pretty intractable problem. Teachers want something approaching what was taken out – in writing that can’t again be ripped up according to the whim of the government. The govt won’t enshrine that in a collective agreement and is offering only a portion of what was cut out.

      We’ve been there and done that with the wages/services balance. Both teachers and the education system lost out big time. That problem has been compounded year by year until now the local trustees had to cut a further $1.8 million from existing constrained services – with only about a third of that related to declining enrolment.

      So, who to believe? On the whole, school trustees and teachers see the effects of chronic under-funding from this government. The Supreme Court judge sided almost completely with the teachers’ arguments as well.

      I do agree with you on “finite” and even on some of the “benefit items” . In reality, the wage aspects are close and you and I could cut a deal over a meal. In general, the benefits are do-able as well. One huge benefit – now likely dashed – of getting Vince Ready in as a mediator was that the public might finally get a sense of “objective” numbers. There is a huge amount of numerical spin and posturing coming from the BC Libs as well.

      The stickler is those court rulings that have so far favoured – in some pretty strong judicial language – the teachers’ position. In the long run “if” teachers win the BC Appeal case (and the likely appeal to the SC of Canada), what is being asked for right now may very well seem like small potatoes then …. and when constitutional rights are involved, an “inability to pay” argument is not grounds for appeal. Time will tell.

      Real political leadership would broker a deal now that would simultaneously (i) put removed and much needed funds back into the system (and yes more jobs for teachers) (ii) a reasonable wage increase (iii) mitigate against a looming court decision where the BC Libs have already lost handily. Kicking that court case down the road does indeed do just that but at an ever increasing risk. Rolling the legal dice on this isn’t the best strategy imo .

      A pretty long response here Dusty. My guess is that wages and benefits can easily be in the 7-8% zone over 5 years. It’s the elephant that isn’t really being adequately addressed by the government that is the stumbling block. Just like the alcoholic in the family that no one talks about, the legal issues affect everything else.

      Even attempts at a side-bar deal to put the court issue aside have been fruitless. in fact, a few days ago the BC Libs included a proposal that if the court cases didn’t go their way again, they had the option of abrogating whatever negotiated contract is reached. A ‘termination’ clause won’t fly in the least with teachers and speaks volumes to bargaining in good faith.

      Let’s work on that deal you and I.

  2. I can appreciate how the public can be teased by the media “sticks” gently poking and prodding, attempting to instill frustration and shift the public’s support to government. That has always been. It’s unfortunate that we are here again, debating support for children while the media splashes wages as the primary issue.

    I am in this system, after moving from Calgary 20 years ago. Back in 1994, I was pleasantly surprised to learn I was making $5k more a year in B.C. I was impressed by the curricular resources the BCTF had available, and noticed how my former Calgarian colleagues envied of our system, our passion. We were rich with resources in our local district; 6 alternate education programs, six elementary school counsellors, and other specialists to match (speech paths, deaf & hard of hearing teachers, learning resource teachers, and so on). Then year after year, it was (and is) nothing but cuts.

    Block funding to students hasn’t kept pace with the rest of Canada. Districts have become responsible for finding money to support increases in hydro and gas. We’ve lost schools, the gifted program, alternate ed. programs, adult ed. programs, and numerous specialists. Yet, all of the students once attached to these schools are still in our system. The front line teachers are the ones primarily offering service to these students.

    For the past 5 years, counselling caseloads at the elementary level have been 100 + students. High caseload numbers have led to “drive by” service, where we drop into a school, offer the best suggestions we can (without even really knowing the children) and leave it up to school based personnel to carry on. We are not 6 counsellors. We are now 3. Our student:counsellor ratio is close to 900:1. The government stripped language that kept this ratio at 600:1. In my opinion, it is unethical. This is one real life example. All of our specialists feel this same crunch.

    Paperwork and “accountability” have become the norm, with hours and hours spent writing letters to pediatricians; attempting to have medical professionals reframe language so we at the school district can access any possible funding a student might be eligible for. Still, it is not enough as the numerous students with learning disabilities, behaviour challenges, mental wellness issues, moderate intellectual delays (IQ 55-70) and gifted do not receive supplementary funding.

    It is a mess, a quagmire, and a childhood flashback of watching cartoons of Wile E Coyote sinking in quick sand. In my opinion, our governments (notice the plural) have ascribed to systems south of us, and have allowed education of our children to be devalued. We need vision. Our children need to be valued. How can BC be number one for child poverty for nine years running? Let’s give our heads a shake, and claw our way back.

    And…if we’re talking wages, I now make $30,000 less than my Albertan colleagues in the same job. The knee jerk reaction is to respond, “Well, move back to Calgary.” That is not the issue. The issue is “how the heck did BC fall so far behind?” Erosion… it’s quiet and subtle in the public eye. It’s like a mudslide for those that work in the education system.

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