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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 1, September 2004

Readers write

Before school choice

Donald Gutstein’s article of April 2004 deserves praise for its incisive documentation of the involvement of The Fraser Institute in the decentralization of education in B.C. However, as much as libertarians may be advocates of school choice, neither by extension nor by default does this necessitate that they are advocates of the bureaucratic ends of the Fraser Institute any more than any other institution.

It is true that historically, both libertarians and conservative, evangelical religious groups have resisted compulsory schooling. On October 13, 1909, Francisco Ferrer, the founder of the Modern School in Spain, was executed by a Spanish military court for his antiauthoritarian views. He stated, "Rulers have always taken care to control the education of the people. They know better than anyone else that their power is based almost entirely on the school, and they therefore insist on retaining their monopoly on it." From the point of view of libertarians, perhaps little has changed in this regard in the last one hundred years.
Adrian Hill

Cuba teacher looks for letters

The BCTF has for several years offered in-service workshops in Cuba for Cuban teachers who are teaching English as an additional language. This is one of the projects of the BCTF International Solidarity Program. Some 25 B.C. teachers have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of Cuban teachers.

One of these teachers has asked for Teacher to publish his address and to invite B.C. teachers to write to him. He would like to exchange ideas about teaching English as well as other topics of interest. The address is: Juan Carlos Caballero Puig
Cristina 364 (B)
entre San Felipe y San Francisco
Habana Vieja
Habana 3 Cuba

Letters to the minister of education

I have recently learned (from BC College of Teachers) that the certification of teachers in B.C. has been changed (Teaching Profession Amendment Act 2004), and is now essentially a licence, paid for annually. This seems to me a retrograde and demeaning situation. Tens of thousands of B.C. teachers have earned certificates. We value these as artifacts indicating the years of effort put into our qualification to begin a career in education. Many of us have also formally upgraded those qualifications at great personal sacrifice, and this has been reflected in our current level of certification.

We are now told "failure to pay [the annual fee] will result in cancellation of your certificate." (BCCT letter to members, June 30, 2004) What is the point of this change, and who asked for it?

It is hard not to be cynical about this change, as with so many others in the last three years. Does your government have a hidden agenda? I would urge the ministry to stop its little chess game against the teachers of this province, our union, our local boards, and other stakeholders. We are honourable people, in an honourable (understatement!) profession. I believe we should be treated better. If there is a problem, surely we can work it out together.
Don McLellan


I am a retired teacher, and I do not intend to become a non-practising member of the BC College of Teachers. According to the new by-laws and policies (which endure at the discretion of the minister) my non-compliance will result in the loss of my Permanent Teaching Certificate.

Since migrating to Canada, in 1969, I have served the public education system of this province as teacher, principal, superintendent of schools, and field services co-ordinator with the ministry itself. It galls me that with one slash of the pen you can deprive me of a credential earned by academic study and field practice, a credential labelled permanent by then Minister of Education Donald Brothers, and a credential of which I am inordinately proud.

The ultimate affront to me as a trained educator is the quasi-legal form that asks me to surrender any opportunity to give something back to the system in which I was privileged to serve. In essence, you are depriving me of the chance to contribute voluntarily in a system that needs every support it can get. This I will not do!

At present, I tutor two students with special needs under the direction of the classroom teacher in a local elementary school. I give homework assistance to three neighbourhood secondary students in Grades 8 and 9, and I work as a tutor with VISE (Volunteers for Isolated Student Education) in the outback, Queensland, Australia. In each of these situations I work on a purely voluntary basis. To expect, or even countenance, that I would not utilize my professional skills in these undertakings is both ludicrous and irrational.

In my opinion, the BC College of Teachers has nothing to offer me, and I want nothing from it, nor do I wish to pay an annual fee to do nothing. However, I will not surrender my professional skill or my individual right to help those in need of that skill. I will be a teacher until the moment I breathe my final breath, Permanent Certificate or not.

Did it ever occur to you, the minister, and the BC College of Teachers to have dialogue with the B.C. Retired Teachers’ Association on the ramifications of such petty measures? It is never too late to reconsider and reach a more palatable resolution.

Hopefully, the Government of Canada will not tinker with the meaning of the word permanent and take away my permanent-resident status.
Owen P. Corcoran
President, B.C. Retired Teachers’ Association

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