The ongoing teacher job action is having an effect on many people in the education system.
It should be said that taking this action has been equally challenging for teachers as well.
Provincial contract negotiations have been ongoing since March 1 and, to date, little progress has been made.
Many of our objectives relate to improved learning conditions for our students, yet the government has responded with calls for concessions that would erode learning conditions further. Teacher inaction is not an option when the public school system is under attack.
B.C.’s teachers have not taken this job action lightly. We have chosen to undertake a Teach Only campaign, ensuring that students receive the education they deserve as teachers focus on their instruction, free from administrative diversions.
Since the teaching profession was deemed an essential service by the Liberal government, any collective action we take must be approved by the Labour Relations Board as not curtailing the essential services we offer. Some of these actions will not be popular, with the public or our teachers, but represent what limited action we have at our disposal to pressure government, through their bargaining agent, to improve our school system.
Some of our actions highlight just how much erosion has occurred in education over the years.
Our choice not to fundraise only hits hard because budgets that used to pay for these items have been eliminated by cash-strapped school boards.
While Liberal government underfunding is the actual culprit, teachers on the ground become the target for highlighting the injustice.
Pressure on the government, from outside the teaching ranks, to make improvements to education is paramount to advance negotiations.
We are as anxious to see an end to job action as anyone else connected to the system, but not at the expense of deteriorating learning conditions for the students we teach.
Joan Erb, president, and
Murray Helmer, vice president, Cariboo-Chilcotin