President Susan Lambert, First Vice-President Jim Iker, and Second Vice-President Glen Hansman have been re-elected by acclamation to continue in their respective positions at the helm of the 41,000-member BC Teachers’ Federation.
Also elected to serve as members-at-large on the BCTF Executive Committee were: David Komljenovic from Kamloops, Joanna Larson from Prince Rupert, Teri Mooring from Quesnel, Paul Steer from Delta, and Christine Stewart from Vancouver.
For the first time in a decade, the minister of education addressed the BCTF AGM. Dozens of teachers lined up at the microphones for an opportunity to tell Education Minister George Abbott about the difficult reality confronting them in classrooms across BC. The two teachers who were able to speak in the brief time available spoke eloquently about their frustration with current teaching and learning conditions, and their distress when students’ needs can’t be met.
By contrast, Lambert spoke of the excellent teaching and learning conditions in Finland, which many scholars consider to have the finest public education system in the world. In Finland, teachers are highly respected and enjoy professional autonomy, average class sizes are 21 even without legislated limits, and the teachers’ union is a key partner with government.
“Minister Abbott, we’d like to go to Finland. My question to you is: How can you help us get there?” Lambert asked.
Abbott spoke of the joy of teaching, the need to improve teachers’ job satisfaction, and his desire to work cooperatively with the BCTF and the other education partner groups to improve public education in BC.
“As minister of education, my door will always be open to Susan [Lambert] and it will always be open to you,” Abbott told the 700 teachers at the assembly. “Let’s dream expansively,” he suggested, “and work together to take a good education system and make it excellent.”
Lambert presented Abbott with a copy of the BCTF’s newest publication, “Better Schools For BC,” which contains “recommendations for a road map to take us to our version of Finland.”