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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 16, Number 2, November/December 2003

President’s message

During the last week of October, 250 Maple Ridge teachers held a "rally in the valley" to protest their school board’s decision to insist on deducting their $90 college fees—despite signed letters from 85% of the local members revoking their authorization to do so. Teachers wore placards with messages such as, "Not my college, not my fee."

At the board meeting later in the evening, some colleagues even taped signs saying "No voice" across their mouths to protest attempts to silence them—and all of us—on fundamental issues of unionism and professionalism. Their gesture is symbolic of the feelings of teachers across the province, many of whom see signs both large and small that government aims to make sure that our voices are not heard.

The worst example, of course, is "Christy’s College" itself. With nothing but government appointees on board, we can be sure it will never veer off of the minister’s set path. After all, this is the group that passed "Standards for the Education, Competence, and Professional Conduct of Educators" without ever talking to teachers.

Another example took place at a news conference in Surrey, at which Premier Campbell and Education Minister Clark were to speak. On ministry orders, representatives of the BCTF and the Surrey Teachers’ Association were refused access to the news conference and ordered off school property.

A less serious, but no less illuminating example can be found on the Ministry of Education’s web site. From the home page, a visitor can access dozens of links to education groups from A to Z, but not to the BCTF’s award-winning site. The B.C. Chamber of Commerce is there, but there’s no mention of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation except in the list of members of an advisory committee.

Why would government stoop to such petty political games like kicking teachers out of a news event and removing a link to our web site? Precisely because teachers are refusing to be silenced, and parents are hearing our message. Indeed, recent polling showed that 77% of British Columbians share our belief that teachers should form a majority on the college council. What’s more, visitors to www.bctf.ca can find a wealth of information to help them speak up about the issues too!

Neil Worboys

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