I am a teacher in B.C. and I have been quiet (for the most part) about the ongoing conflict and subsequent job action. Quiet even when reading comments online and in the papers attacking me as being selfish, lazy and greedy. Quiet even when the guy in the white SUV drove past me on the picket line yesterday screaming at me to “get back to work #$%^ing lazy…” There are a lot of statistics and ‘facts’ being put forth by the government but these are my facts, my reality.
- I taught Grade 4 last year with 29 students. 6 students were on an Individual Education Plan and at least 10 more required a lot of support. More than I could give.
- I had an amazing Education Assistant that worked tirelessly to help as many students as possible but was often required to follow and keep safe, the one student that had such high learning needs and anxiety that he would run from the class, building and even school grounds.
- I had students that would hit, punch, kick, swear, yell, cry, throw chairs etc. Students that were in and out of foster care, students that came to school hungry. With all these needs I often did not get to those who were not acting out. Consequently I found out months after it happened that one of my student’s parents had gotten divorced. She certainly could have used some extra attention and support.
- You would think that this was a very unusual case and that most classes are not like this wouldn’t you? Unfortunately this is becoming the norm.
- Despite the challenges, I LOVE my job. I genuinely care about all of my students and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
- B.C. has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country, B.C. kids are funded $1000 each per year less than the national average while B.C. is one of the wealthiest provinces. $1000 less? How is that OK? (This makes me furious as a parent and as a teacher)
I have run the full gamut of emotions about this over the summer. Panic about how to feed my family (despite the stats being put forth- at 7 years of teaching without yet getting a continuing contract I make less as a teacher than I did at Starbucks), fear about the future for all our children, and finally anger. I have had enough. If you still think this is about a pay raise or better benefits then you really need to educate yourself. We will never, not ever, get back the money that we lost since this job action started.
Teachers, and everyone that works in a caring profession, go out of their way to make sure those in their care get what they need. After more than a decade of cuts, we can no longer stretch to cover what is not being funded. I can’t continue to buy supplies for students and the classroom that should be covered, parents should not have to hold bake sales, poinsettia sales, chocolate fundraisers etc, to cover what should be funded by our tax dollars. (Yes, teachers pay those taxes too). Children deserve classrooms that are not overcrowded, with enough support and textbooks- ones that you didn’t use yourself when you were in school.
At this point we need to ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in. Are we so afraid of not being able to afford the latest gadgets and fancy cars/clothes/houses that we buy into the fear that the government is putting forth about affordability? I want to live in a society where children are well educated and taught to think critically, have empathy and learn to care about each other and our environment. I don’t want to see B.C. sold off to the highest bidder at the expense of our environment and our children. School is not a business to produce mindless masses ready for the workforce. Everyone should be standing up together and saying that this is not right. This is not just the teachers’ fight, this is a fight for everyone who values an educated society.
Inaction is no longer an option. If you aren’t standing up for what is right in this world you are just as guilty as those in power who are making the wrong decisions. Instead of clucking your tongue at the madness or burying your head in the sand hoping it will all sort itself out (or worse blaming the teachers), I challenge you to look at what is really going on and take a stand. I am fighting for your children and mine. If you aren’t standing up and doing the same, why aren’t you?