LETTER: Teachers don’t impress at school board meeting

Teachers on a politically immature undertaking that will result in loss of public support

On Tuesday evening past, I took in the Abbotsford School District regular board meeting that focused on a review of the community partners with the local school system to find that although School District No. 34 is doing well in that regard, they have challenges to meet that will make their partnerships supporting children and youth in Abbotsford schools as best as can be.

And, of course, since it was the first day of a province-wide teachers’ strike, 120 people were in attendance, up from the usual school board meeting of a half a dozen or so.  It would go without saying that a majority of those attending were teachers, who, by peer pressure, are forced to be members of the Abbotsford District Teachers Association and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, which should really have its name changed to the B.C. Teachers’ Union.

While they patiently waited for the much more than usual interesting meeting to come to a conclusion, one could readily anticipate what would happen during the relatively short question period that would follow.

And, as predicted, teachers showed their disdain for the current bargaining situation with only a restricted few allowed asking questions albeit some in a most arrogant and politically immature manner.

One veteran teacher of 20 years, benignly ignorant of the role of trustees it seems, sought their support for the BCTF’s “Fair Deal” position while threatening to terminate any and all non-classroom support for students by ripping up his coach’s card.

Another attacked the school board for merely accepting a recommendation from an independent committee to raise the annual indemnity of the next school board members (to be elected in November) by 2.9 to 3.6 percent over four years, depending on their board position (chair, vice-chair or regular member)… a far cry from the proposal put forward by the BC Teachers’ Federation or Union. No action was taken on that item and won’t until the school board’s meetings in the fall.

A third attacked the school board for adopting a new logo that was started three years ago…something drastically needed after using a more than dull graphic for many decades.

Only one addressed a serious issue that does need more attention and funding – that of the cutbacks in mental health support for children in the school system. Unfortunately, with cutbacks in education by the provincial government over the past decade, school trustees in every school district have had to make hard decisions that they hoped would have as minimal impact on students as possible.

Teachers, through the BCTF (BCTU), have embarked on a politically immature undertaking that will only result in a loss of public support and sympathy but, perhaps, a minimal increase in support from other stakeholders, namely only parents, who, for the most part, do not understand the financial situation that the province is finding itself in since 2008.

Perhaps, it is time for the teachers to spend their summer gathering names on a petition to seek an increase in taxes in all school districts and, for those who do sign, they should be the only ones to have their taxes increased.

Or, they could hold their noses, become members of the BC Liberal Party, and take over the 49 ridings that went Liberal in the last provincial election (2013), and then in 2017, elect the NDP in a massive landslide and watch the province sink to $100 billion in debt and join Quebec as a have-not province….or aren’t they a nation?

G.E. MacDonell