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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 1, January/February 2004

Readers write

Teachers and the public need the truth

The origin of ProD days was not mentioned in the article "The case of the vanishing professional day" in the October 2004 issue of Teacher.

I think we should have much more and continuing publicity about the fact that teachers "paid" for ProD days when they were started in the 1970s. Minutes were added to the school day to make up for the five days that teachers "took off."

The idea of ProD days was for teachers to have time for meetings, workshops, training, etc. that was not available in the regular working day. Teachers were to plan these days for themselves as they saw fit. It was not for the government, the principal, the school board, or anyone else to plan them.

I think too many people, including teachers, do not know the purpose of ProD days. I hear parents, grandparents, and even non-teaching friends saying that there are too many holiday ProD days that they are paying for and that it is time that these days be taken away from teachers.

It is time the public and teachers knew the truth!

Do not let the government tell you what to do on these days! We have one of the best public school systems in the world. It’s time for teachers to be encouraged—not demoralized—by constant negative criticism. Yes, there are areas for improvement as there are in any job, but encouragement is more likely to get results than the teacher-bashing that has been going on.

Lois Millington
Vancouver, retired

Achievement article not respectful of AOs

I think David Denyer’s article "It’s all about achievement" (Teacher, Nov./Dec. 2004) is not respectful of principals, district, and ministry staff.

They are not error free, but I have found them to be working long hours to do their best for teachers and children in spite of receiving little appreciation from others. To suggest that the activities involved in "It’s all about achievement," and other efforts by these educational leaders, are "a top down paternalistic model of continuous surveillance" does not match my own experience in Burnaby and observations of their opinions or actions throughout the province. As well, I see no serious evidence that they are working to make "schools (become) work camps and children simply compliant human capital to be equipped with marketing skills" as he suggests.

I would suggest that David Denyer might turn down the rhetoric, and thoughtfully consider ways to provide helpful information and opinion that can engage others in real dialogue for the benefit of children and teachers.

Ray Myrtle

Teacher trustees: Thanks for trying

I would like to take this opportunity to thank trustees Annie McKitrick and Patricia Wittaker for their passionate advocacy on behalf of Richmond students and teachers, and particularly for the motion they attempted to move through the October 18 school board meeting, calling on our elected trustees to write a letter to Minister of Education Tom Christensen and identify the effects of his ministry’s drastic underfunding of our public education system here in Richmond. Unfortunately, trustees Linda McPhail, Sandra Bourque, Debbie Toblotney, and Andy Hobbs did not see the need to address this crucial issue with the minister, and defeated the heartfelt motion, citing the fact that we should not be looking to outside sources to solve our problems in Richmond, but attempting to address our difficulties internally through structural changes.

Well, I would like to dispel both the arguments of those trustees who believe we can solve the problems of our ailing classrooms and declining staff morale with a few internal shifts, and those in the education community who think professional development is going to give me the tools I need to meet the diverse and ever-growing needs of my ever-growing classes. I love being a teacher, and I believe I’ve been given a privilege and sacred trust to ensure that the students who spend one of their very precious years in my classroom are able to blossom and develop to their full potential in my care.

What our public schools need is not better teachers with better tricks up their sleeves. We already have one of the best educated and committed teaching populations in the world! What our public education system must have to function as it should is full-funding, adequate resources, and for the more than 2,500 bodies that have been removed from B.C. schools—such as teacher-librarians, ESL and resource specialists, teaching assistants, and a multitude of classroom teachers (increasing class size to unmanageable numbers) to be returned. This is not something the Richmond School Board is able to fix internally. This crisis in B.C. schools was created by our provincial Liberal government and their drastic underfunding. And only by the reversal of these situations will B.C. classrooms truly begin to meet the needs of B.C. students, and staff morale in schools begin to improve. We can only hope that, like Vancouver trustees, the Richmond School Board will realize their limitations, and put pressure in the only place it can truly make a difference—at the feet of the provincial government. It is their duty!

Tina Anderson

Joining RTA pays off

In your September issue of Teacher, Owen Corcoran wrote a rather vigorous letter about the new college fees. Those of us not teaching would be relinquishing our permanent certificates unless $37.50 found its way to the college treasury.

The newly elected council, sworn in on October 1, 2004, listened to our brief and moved quickly to eliminate that fee for teachers in receipt of a pension and not practising.

To those of the teaching fraternity who left the classroom this past year and joined the B.C. Retired Teachers’ Association for the princely sum of $35 in annual dues, your wisdom paid off, and you most assuredly got your money’s worth. We will continue to keep your interests at heart, work on your behalf, and hope that you will encourage all of your colleagues to follow your example and join us.

Sheila Gair
President BCRTA

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