BCTF Online Museum

Lament for Education

Christina Schut 2002

Lament for Education song lyricsTeachers were feeling extremely demoralized after the 2002 contract stripping that removed guarantees on class size, support for special needs students and so much more. Many realized that the Campbell BC Liberal government did not appreciate our work, effort and sacrifices, so they privately launched their own personal “work to rule” campaigns.

Many “extras” that teachers had been doing for years were quietly dropped. We had given up a salary increase in order to achieve contractual learning conditions guarantees for students. After the strips we had lower pay, and no clauses. The feelings of robbery, violation and betrayal were very strong. 

Parents got upset at the loss of evening concerts, coaching, special trips and other expected extras that teachers had done in their own time. We told the parents that we had lost the fight for improvements for their children, and we were passing the torch to them, since the government would not listen to teachers.

The song mentions “power” and how it is wielded in Education in BC. The government said teachers had too much “power” over the learning and working conditions of the schools, and that the principals, Boards and government had too little. 

A collective agreement does give you some power and control over your own working life. It is a powerful protector if the language is good and the contract implementation is strong and vigilant.

Melody: The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night (English Folk Song)