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Response to Joe Sawchuk's letter to the editor

His letter is incoherent and insulting, not only to teachers but to the citizens of B.C. (two-faced taxpayers by Joe's account!).

It disappoints me that The Free Press has once again seen fit to publish another vitriolic letter from Joe Sawchuk of Duncan, B.C. regarding the ongoing strike/lockout involving B.C.'s teachers.  His letter is incoherent and insulting, not only to teachers but to the citizens of B.C. (two-faced taxpayers by Joe's account!).  His small-minded focus solely on pay raises shows how ill informed and ignorant he is.  Admittedly, the fact that BC teachers are paid roughly 25 per cent less than teachers in Alberta is a major point of contention, but it would not have been reason enough for 90 per cent of B.C.'s teachers to have voted to go on strike.  What prompted this united walkout by B.C.'s teachers is the continued destruction of B.C.'s public education system by the BC Liberals.

After tearing up our contracts in 2002, this government has steadfastly worked to further destroy our working conditions and student’s learning conditions.  The reduction of funding and loss of support systems in the schools have reached a critical stage, and teachers are finding it impossible to provide all students with the help they need and deserve.  Funding to private schools has increased at twice the rate as public schools, showcasing this government's elitist arrogance.

B.C.'s teachers have walked out to protest the government's continued refusal to accept two court rulings that state that their actions were unconstitutional and the demand that they return class size and composition ratios to the 2002 levels.  If they could afford it then, they could certainly afford it now without increasing taxes to B.C.'s citizens.  It might require taxing corporations and B.C.'s wealthy at a more fair rate.  As well, it would appear that the money given up by teachers for standing up for their beliefs has padded the government's pockets to such an extent that they are offering parents a cash payout.

While teachers may not be in the classroom, we continue to educate your children in a way that is just as important.  We are showing them that it is sometimes necessary to make sacrifices in order to maintain democracy and uphold the laws of the land, and we are teaching them to stand up to bullies.


Kim Gietz

Fernie, B.C.