UPDATE: Teachers withdraw from extra-curricular activities

B.C. teachers will withdraw their participation in all extra-curricular activities, including sports and graduation ceremonies.

B.C. teachers will withdraw their participation in all extra-curricular activities, including sports, graduation ceremonies and end-of-year celebrations.

The BC Teachers’ Federation voted 73 per cent in favour of a resistance strategy to oppose Bill 22, the Education Improvement Act in a province-wide voted conducted April 17-19. There are 41,000 members of the BCTF, and 21,625 votes yes, while 7,846 voted no.

Bill 22 ordered an end to limited job action, and would impose a six-month cooling off period in the teachers’ already year-long negotiation with the B.C. Public School Employers Association.

The teachers also voted to support a public awareness campaign, and the possibility of a vote on a full-scale strike in the future.

“This vote sends a powerful message to government that they must rethink Bill 22, listen to the concerns of teachers, respect our rights, and invest in services to students,” said BCTF president Susan Lambert in a press release. “Teachers are united in opposition to this terrible piece of legislation, the twentieth bill passed by the BC Liberals since 2001 targeting teachers’ professional and labour rights. We simply have to take a strong stand.”

Lambert noted that Bill 22 virtually wipes out class-size and composition limits.

She acknowledged that the vote was emotional for teachers

“Teachers struggle with this because these activities bring so much joy to our engagement with students. We know this will mean the loss of some highly-valued activities, and we sincerely regret that. But we have to look at the bigger picture and the longer term.”

Abbotsford Board of Education superintendent Kevin Godden is optimistic parents and some teachers will ensure students still have sports and grad ceremonies.

“I know how conflicted our teachers have been,” said Godden. “I am hopeful some of them will make a decision about what’s in the best interest of kids.”

Godden said he is “very concerned” that Abbotsford’s rich traditions in sports and arts will be sullied by the job action.

What’s more, he feels graduation ceremonies are made more meaningful for students by the participation of teachers. But schools and parents will continue planning these events, and “make this year as special as we can,” he said.

“I want the public to continue to have confidence in our school system, that we do the best we can for our kids.”