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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 6, April 2006

BC College of Teachers’ update: From "Connected" to "Standards"

by Marian Dodds

The good news is that the BCCT fee for the next year will remain at $90, thanks to the hard work of our elected college councillors on the finance committee. The bad news is a by-law was passed that requires members on long-term disability to pay the full college fee as soon as they return to work at .2 FTE, up from the previous requirement of .6 FTE. This will affect about 270 of our most vulnerable members. As well, the preliminary budget passed on January 20 included a large sum of money to continue the glossy Connected magazine. Below are some specific updates on college matters.

College seeks input through standards dialogue

The appointed college created Standards for the Education, Competence and Professional Conduct of Educators in BC without any teacher input in 2003 and revised them in 2004. The 13 existing standards that were created by the appointed council accompanied by extensive criteria and descriptors, can be found at www.bcct.ca.

Since 2004, BCTF has advocated for the suspension of these standards pending consultation with teachers. The BCTF Agenda for Change on the College includes this statement:

"All professional bodies in B.C. are controlled by members of those professions. Only practitioners can truly understand the nature and demands of the profession. A council representing the teaching profession, as opposed to representing the government, will want to: suspend the Standards for the Education, Competence and Professional Conduct of Educators in BC pending consultation with teachers, revisions as a result of that consultation, and endorsation by an elected council."

On April 7–8, 2006, the college hosted a dialogue on the standards and 40 BCTF members participated, putting forward our position on the standards; a position that was developed from teacher input and concerns received at various zone meetings, RAs, AGMs, and an issues session held in February 2006. Teachers at the dialogue heard the voices of other college partner groups, including representatives of parents, independent schools, trustees, principals and vice principals, deans of education, superintendents, First Nations schools, and the Ministry of Education. We asserted that the standards should be guiding principles only, that they should not be used to create checklists for the evaluation of teachers or to be used in place of due process for the discipline of teachers. We urged that all criteria and descriptors be removed, and that all standards be reconsidered. We need to start with input from academics and practitioners based on educational research that is coherent and acceptable to teachers.

It is now up to the 20 members of the college council to decide how to proceed, based on this input from partner groups. Any change to the standards requires a two-thirds vote. There are 12 elected and 8 appointed members of the council.

Connected magazine

The BCTF Agenda for Change on the College includes the statement:

"Teachers are expected to pay the expenses of the College without control over the fee or college expenditures. A democratically elected council should: cancel the glossy BCCT magazine, Connected."

The January 2006 preliminary budget passed by the council shows that the actual cost of Connected is $295,000 a year, based on a cost of $465,000 for production and distribution minus estimated revenue of $170,000 from advertising. The contract for the magazine will expire on November 30, 2006.

Over 150 delegates to the AGM provided their comments on why they believe the college should "disconnect" Connected magazine. The vast majority objected to the high cost and glossy format and suggested that it could be less costly and more environmentally suitable as a web based newsletter for members. People were critical of the content, in particular the ads encouraging private schools and tutoring services. Others found the articles superficial. Many commented that the magazine goes directly into their recycling bins.

Other comments included:

  • The glossy appearance and cheery content of this magazine does not reflect the chronic underfunding and gritty appearance of classrooms.
  • This is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a publication that the vast majority of teachers DO NOT want and DO NOT read. If the intent is to create a valuable resource for teachers, it is failing miserably.
  • Lots of the ads are either inappropriately targeting my PD money or offering me employment in other countries--surely we want most of our college members to actually work here!
  • Put simply, I just don’t connect.

Members are encouraged to send their comments on Connected to the editor at connected@bcct.ca with a copy to the BCTF, attention Marian Dodds (mdodds@bctf.ca).

College elections 2006

Members in the following zones are encouraged to support the following BCTF-endorsed candidates during the election this May:

Zone 2: North Central,

Sandra Davie (Prince George)

Zone 7: Lower Fraser Valley,

Sonja Krzus (Maple Ridge)

Zone 9: Lower Mainland South, Kelly Shields (Surrey)

Zone 12: Vancouver Island, Richard Walker (Comox)

Be sure to notify the college of any change of address as ballots are sent to your home.

Keeping informed is in your best interest

BCTF policy 7.A.01: BCTF Agenda for Change--BC College of Teachers can be found in your Members’ Guide, p. 45–46. You can read it online at bctf.ca/about/MembersGuide/.

Ask your local association to invite the elected college councillor for your zone to speak at a general meeting about the work of the college and to report on the recent standards dialogue.

Be sure to read all materials about college matters.

If you do not keep your membership current you could face hundreds of dollars in costs for re-instatement and extensive time-consuming requirements to produce transcripts and other documentation in order to be certified to teach in British Columbia.

If you are unsure about how your fees are to be paid, check with your local association to determine if your BCCT fees will be collected by payroll deduction or if you are responsible yourself to ensure they are paid for the next year.

Marian Dodds is an assistant director in BCTF’s Professional and Social Issues Division.

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