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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 5, March 2006

President’s message

Once again we’re coming into spring term without a collective agreement–at least not one that was freely negotiated.

After the momentous events of last fall, it’s clear this round of negotiations must be fundamentally different. This time we need an agreement that is negotiated in a spirit of mutual respect, not one imposed through unilateral wielding of the legislative hammer.

Last fall we took a strong stand in defense of public education. We took great risks, but we stood up together and we made gains for our students and ourselves. When we voted to go back to our classrooms, we did not give up.

We are working as hard today as we did last October, to address the urgent needs of real children in our schools. We are speaking out at the Learning Round Table. We are actively engaging with Vince Ready’s Industrial Inquiry Commission. We’re lobbying our MLAs and writing letters to editors. We’re hosting and attending conferences, and learning from other teachers, students, and parents across Canada and abroad.

Most importantly, though, here in our neighbourhood schools we’re teaching almost 600,000 students every day, trying our best to meet their diverse needs. While the government drags its feet, teachers and students face working and learning conditions that need prompt action.

We’re looking at the kind of solutions that have been found in other parts of the country. In Ontario, for example, elementary teachers have 200 minutes of preparation time per week, and secondary teachers have 25% prep time. By the end of their current collective agreement, those at 5-year maximum salary will be earning $84,900. Quite a contrast.

Ready has been granted more time to undertake his review of teacher bargaining structures. His new deadline is March 31, 2006. In the meantime, we will continue to give voice to teachers’ concerns, despite the current problematic framework.

We have put forward proposals we believe would improve teaching and learning, restore bargaining and professional rights, and enhance the joy of life-long learning for students and teachers alike. Read more on our web site, bctf.ca.

Jinny Sims

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