Hey teachers and teacher supporters, here’s another letter to be shared. From a teacher here in Kelowna.
Taking a Stand for Public Education
I’m a teacher at Mount Boucherie Secondary School, where I work with so many wonderful colleagues and exceptional students. I chaperone school dances, help out with the grad ceremonies, sponsor clubs, provide tutorials, attend sports events as the athletic director, coach at least one school team (this year, two teams), and teach five blocks of English, mostly at the Grade 12 level. My job is demanding, but I do it well. And since 2002, when the Liberal government began to make serious changes to our collective agreement, my job has become progressively more difficult. However, I persevered because I care about my students and felt the need to maintain our school’s standards of education despite the nagging weight of legislation that increased class sizes and removed so many teachers from the classroom.
However, now that Bill 22 has been introduced, I’ve hit my breaking point. I’m a professional with 5 years of university education; I’ve been trained by some of the best teachers in the province, right here in our district; I’ve grown as a teacher in so many ways, through professional development with colleagues; and I’ve managed to give so much of myself while being a parent to two children, one of whom has significant special needs and will require lifelong care for her extreme cognitive impairments. All I ask is that I be respected and valued for what I do. Bill 22 does none of that. It mandates that my professional development be determined by the Ministry, that I undergo a yearly evaluation by someone with the power to dismiss me for having an off day, that I teach limitless classes as deemed “suitable” by district staff, and that I have no say in the composition of my classroom or how to most adequately meet my students’ needs.
For me, this is not about wages — it’s about my rights as a professional, and it’s about a government that is waging war on the families in BC as it moves towards reducing funding for education. I see firsthand every day what happens to students who don’t receive the support they need, and it’s extremely frustrating. Bill 22 affects all parents and students in this province. Make no mistake — my fight for working conditions is a fight for my students’ learning conditions. They’re intrinsically linked.
So I’m serving notice that when this so-called cooling off period ends, and the finalized legislation is introduced, I may just make the personal decision to withdraw my extra-curricular endeavours in protest of this crippling legislation. While part of me can’t help shake the feeling that I may be doing exactly what the government wants by removing my volunteer time and decreasing the activities that students can participate in at our school, thus making the public system less desirable, I have to consider the big picture. Teachers deserve better. Parents deserve better. Students deserve better.