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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 6, April 2005

Teachers speak out

Lorne Landry, Cariboo-Chilcotin speaks out
Class sizes increased at all levels after the Liberals stripped our contract. At one high school, we have 24 classes over 30, the largest being 36. Now we have as many as 9 out of 30 students on IEPs in regular classrooms. In at least one of our high schools, we have up to 80 students wandering the halls because they cannot get the courses they want and need.

We have to use science texts from pre-1980. Some students are having to share textbooks.

Jennifer Auld, Vancouver Island West, speaks out
Prior to 2002, my school had the services of a teacher counsellor. After 2002, our contract was stripped of non-enrolling-teacher ratios, which meant school boards do not have to provide students with librarians, counsellors, LAT, and the like. What has hit Zebellos students the most is having no counsellor support. In the past two years, our community has seen the murder of one of our students, the death of a young mother of six children, and a suicide pact, and despite all these events we still have no counsellor. We need a trained professional who can meet these needs and work pro-actively to alleviate the stresses of tragedy, poverty, and isolation that our students face on a daily basis.

Elena Hutchinson, Vancouver, speaks out
Class size has increased in many intermediate classrooms. Last year, I had a class size of 33 Grade 5/6, including two international students, four First Nations students, one child with severe autism, and five ESL students.

This school year, I have 28 Grade 5/6 students, of which five are ministry designated. Eight students are awaiting testing and as a result are currently not receiving any services.

We have lost the services of a youth-and-family worker. Counselling time, speech-and-language-therapist time, psychology time, teacher-librarian time, and resource-teacher time have all been cut.

I am currently teaching a Grade 5 math with 10 textbooks for 20 students, a textbook that is outdated and doesn’t reflect the prescribed learning outcomes of today’s IRP.

Janine Fraser, Surrey, speaks out
Since the Liberals stripped our contract, class sizes have grown! And class composition is horrendous. A teacher at my school last year had 24 students in her Grade 2 class, and among those were three officially on the social development program with severe behaviour problems and many more on the list for behaviour concerns too!

A student in my class last year left the district after Grade 1 and then returned a year later for Grade 3. For K and Grade 1, he had an SEA, but when he came back for Grade 3, he no longer qualified, but he hadn’t changed!

I buy the resources I use, or I make photocopies and I get penalized for photocopying. Textbooks! What textbooks?

I am concerned about the demoralization of my colleagues!

Marty Bowles, Prince Rupert, speaks out
Class sizes have increased since the Liberals stripped our contracts--especially in specialized classes. Some of our classes have numbers not seen in decades.

Class-composition problems were emphasized 23 times to Tom Christensen in a recent visit. Teachers, administrators, and trustees united in letting the minister know the problem.

Learning assistance teachers are so overloaded with paperwork that their contact time with students has been greatly reduced.

Cutbacks to the social safety net have caused teachers to deal with ever increasing social problems in schools.

Lynda Nicholson, North Okanagan/Shuswap, speaks out
Classes are larger despite a concerted effort by the board to keep them small. They have had no alternative without the protections our contract provided--the money is no longer there. Hardest hit have been secondary science classes.

Students are in classrooms without support; before the contract was stripped and costs downloaded, there would have been SEA support.

Kerry Richardson, Surrey, speaks out
Since the Liberals removed learning conditions from the collective agreement, class sizes have increased. Last year, in my small school, four intermediate classes had 31 students. That number included students with special needs and their assistants, as well as varying numbers of students needing learning assistance (SLD, learning disabilities, etc.).

Gurpreet Bains, Surrey, speaks out
Our district has 4,500 students in oversized classes--627 in oversized Kindergartens.

We have lost the services of librarians, integration support, speech and language pathologists, and school psychologists.

We have textbook shortages, less money to buy resources, and fewer teachers to support our students.

Since the Liberals came to power, education has been demeaned. Teachers have lost a say in the teaching and learning conditions in their classrooms.

Jon Preston, Qualicum, speaks out
Class sizes have increased dramatically! Intermediate and middle school classes are bursting--the rooms in our newer schools were not designed to accommodate 33 students.

A school calendar change has been imposed—seven fewer days of learning affects our ability to teach and students’ ability to learn, and it has a negative financial impact on our CUPE colleagues. Bussing fees further download cuts in education funding onto parents.

The manner in which this government deals with its public-service employees, the undemocratic practices and lack of respect for collective bargaining, is not only shocking, but scandalous.

David Komljenovic, Kamloops–Thompson, speaks out
We now have classes exceeding 30 students, and some exceeding 40.

More students with IEPs end up in classrooms with little or no support. We have classrooms with 10 or more students with special needs in classrooms of 30 or more students.

We have had a 41% reduction in teacher librarians. We have outdated resources for classrooms, and teachers are forced to pay for many of their school supplies.

We are concerned about the layoff of teachers and the lack of respect for court decisions.

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