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Novemebr 16, 2016

  1. Teachers call for swift implementation of Supreme Court ruling
  2. Watch Supreme Court of Canada webcast
  3. Media coverage produces some zingers
  4. A reminder: Please don’t participate in provincial assessment development teams

Teachers call for swift implementation of Supreme Court ruling

lawyersIn the wake of last week's landmark decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, teachers across BC are calling on the BC Liberal government to act quickly to restore the teaching and learning conditions that were stripped from collective agreements in 2002.

“The highest court has spoken. Our contract language is restored,” said BCTF President Glen Hansman. “This government has the funds so there is no excuse to delay a moment more. Students and teachers across BC have waited almost 15 years.”

Hansman called on government and BCPSEA to work collaboratively with the Federation to implement the Supreme Court of Canada decision. He said that funding must immediately be made available to school districts so they can staff their schools according to the levels in each district's collective agreement.

“It's not unrealistic to say that, in semestered secondary schools, we could have the required numbers of teachers in classrooms next semester,” Hansman said. “And in both elementary and secondary schools, we can bring back teacher-librarians to open up closed libraries. We can restore special education teachers to help create more meaningful inclusion. We can reduce wait lists for psycho-educational assessments. We can bring back school counsellors to help children facing mental health challenges, and English language teachers to welcome refugee and immigrant children into our communities. There are so many ways we can swiftly and smoothly begin to restore the teaching and learning conditions this school year that our members and their students need and deserve.”

He went on to say: “The Federation is prepared to work collaboratively with BCPSEA and government to ensure that this is done smoothly-but this cannot be a long, drawn-out process. Together we can make it happen in an orderly and fairly quick way. Teachers have been more than patient for the past 14 years. It is in the interest of everyone involved to move ahead with implementation.” 

Watch Supreme Court of Canada webcast

DianeYou can see our outstanding BCTF legal team in action in the webcast of the Supreme Court hearing. It is also fascinating to see the many questions posed to the government's lawyer by the high court justices.

Media coverage produces some zingers

Since 2002, Legislative Bureau reporters have covered the ongoing political manoeuvres by the BC Liberals and the determined resistance by BCTF members. They witnessed Bills 27 and 28 being passed, they covered our strikes, they've seen the history behind our court case unfold.

The Vancouver Sun's veteran columnist Vaughn Palmer is normally very circumspect, but on the day of the ruling he tweeted:

 In Tuesday's column headlined BC government loses power after ruling, columnist Les Leyne wrote in the Victoria Times-Colonist: “The phrase “laughed out of court” comes to mind, except the Supreme Court of Canada didn't even bother laughing.

“The justices scarcely even bothered explaining themselves. When the BC Teachers' Federation's 14-year battle with the government finally reached the last stop in the line, the court took barely 20 minutes to consider the case after arguments concluded. Then it delivered an oral verdict while lawyers were still getting their coats on, completely rejecting the BC government's position.”

And check out this editorial in today's Globe & Mail entitled “Bad faith, bad form.” 

A reminder: Please don’t participate in provincial assessment development teams

Recently the Ministry of Education invited teachers to apply for the provincial assessment development teams that will redesign the Foundation Skills Assessments (FSAs) and graduation assessments in literacy and numeracy.

However, because the government has failed to take measures to protect school and student data, the BCTF has withdrawn our participation on both provincial assessment teams and the FSA pilot. The decisions to not endorse participation were taken at the 2016 BCTF AGM (with regard to elementary) and the 2016 Spring Representative Assembly (with regard to secondary).

The concerns around protecting school and student data have been raised repeatedly with government. The partner groups, which worked alongside the BCTF and Ministry staff, developed a model within the current legislative framework whereby this could be achieved. The importance of protecting data was a point all partner groups agreed with and worked diligently at coming up with a solution to; a solution that government, thus far, has failed to act on.

Therefore, the Federation reminds members that they should not be participating in assessment committees or the pilot of the FSA. 

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