RE: Your very thoughtful editorial of Thursday, March 8.
The dispute between the BCTF and the province is nothing new. When our children were preparing for their provincial exams back in the early nineties, their teachers went on strike for several weeks. In the first case, parents pooled their resources, hired a tutor, and used the Elkford ski lodge as a classroom. Two years later, volunteers from the community offered their expertise while parents supervised classrooms at the local golf clubhouse. These experiences taught both parents and students to be self-reliant and that there are always alternative solutions.
Todays’ parents have even more resources including a local private academy and online services. Parents really are the ones responsible for their children’s education.
In the ensuing years, I have noticed that in putting “kids first“ the BCTF has gained more for its members. They no longer coach school teams or conduct parent- teacher interviews after school hours. There are fewer instructional days (187 minus 3 so far this year.) With “work to rule “ they do not take attendance or do report cards.
There are some wonderfully effective teachers in public schools and I would favour a system that would reward them. However the BCTF will not consider a merit pay system common among most professions. In my opinion, that encourages mediocrity.
Our MLA Bill Bennett says that the cost to BC taxpayers for the current BCTF demands is $2 billion dollars. According to a Fraser Institute report, in addition to a 15 per cent pay raise, these demands include:
26 weeks (half a year paid leave to care for someone (does not have to be a relative); 2 weeks paid leave upon the death of a friend; 2 sick days a month that can be saved up; and a year’s pay as a “ bonus” upon retiring.
Should the province give in to these demands, and I trust it will not, every other public sector union will line up for the same. I doubt that BC taxpayers want to be in the same bankrupt boat as Ontario.