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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 4, January/February 2005

President’s message

I recently travelled to Cuba to help evaluate our work with English as a second language teachers, one of the many exciting projects of our BCTF International Solidarity program.

On our last day there, we participated in a celebration of teachers and teaching. The event was so joyful and uplifting, it brought tears to the eyes of practically everyone present.

As I reflect back on that experience, I’m struck by how Cuba, a land with so many problems and so few resources, can teach us so much about valuing public education. And while many of our Latin American colleagues may be poor in economic terms, their professional lives are richer in terms of respect and rights.

Here in B.C., teachers strive to create an atmosphere of respect in our classrooms and our schools. We teach our students about standing up for their own rights and respecting the rights of others. We work at building respectful relationships with colleagues, parents, and administrators.

We frequently hear our politicians and their officials talk about their respect for teachers and the work we do, but we rarely experience respectful treatment. On the contrary, we’ve seen a total lack of respect in the way this government acts toward teachers and their union.

The B.C. Liberals have used their legislative hammer to gut our collective agreement and eliminate bargaining rights we fought for over decades.

They have imposed major policy changes without even pretending to consult the professionals they claim to respect.

They have implemented an intrusive program of teacher supervision that demonstrates utter disrespect for professional autonomy and personal integrity.

I returned home more determined than ever to work through our Federation to reassert our rights and reclaim the respect teachers in B.C. have earned through hard work and dedication.

Thank you for all you do for your students and our profession. I respect you for it!

– Jinny Sims

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