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February 8, 2017

  1. Discussions about implementing our restored collective agreement language continue
  2. BCTF calls on government to fully fund the cost of restoration in advance of the February 21 budget
  3. Important new information on education change
  4. Free workshop on economics from a progressive perspective
  5. Adult education in BC: A Canadian outlier
  6. Supporting trans-inclusive organizations

Discussions about implementing our restored collective agreement language continue

Throughout January and February, the BCTF has been meeting regularly with the employer and government to reach an agreement on implementation of our restored language. Those discussions are ongoing. The Federation's goal continues to be full restoration in time for the spring staffing process so that the 2017-18 school year begins with schools and classrooms organized as per our full collective agreement language, including language unique to each local.

This is in keeping with the process set out in Letter of Understanding #17 (LOU #17) that was negotiated in 2014. LOU #17 contained the Teacher Education Fund and it remains in place until the provincial parties work to come to an agreement on implementation and/or any changes to that restored language. The Federation has made it clear at the table that any proposals for substantial changes should wait until collective bargaining opens in the spring of 2019.

Local representatives received extensive updates at he recent Representative Assembly. Members are encouraged to participate in school visits, meetings, and other events organized by their local. More info to members will be sent out soon. 

BCTF calls on government to fully fund the cost of restoration in advance of the February 21 budget

In a news release sent to all BC media outlets on Wednesday morning, BCTF President Glen Hansman called on the government to fully fund all of its obligations regarding our Supreme Court of Canada win and other funding pressures on school boards. He said, “After 15 years of fighting for our rights and students' learning conditions, this is the budget that must finally deliver on the necessary funds for class size, class composition, and ratios for specialist teachers.”

Please share the release from the Federation's Facebook page with your networks. As February 21st Budget Day gets closer, it's important to keep pressure on the provincial government to ensure they include the necessary funding. Thank you to the all the teachers who responded to our call last week to flood the government's budget consultation page. There have been hundreds and hundreds of posts about funding public education since February 1. Thank you! 

Important new information on education change

A new edition of the Federation's Education Change Bulletin with important updates on assessment at the provincial, district, and classroom level is now available for teachers.

Teachers are also reminded that they should not be agreeing to the use of professional development days for implementing Ministry initiatives such as MyEducation BC and the revised curriculum. The Ministry or employer need to provide release time and resources for in-service training of revised curriculum and new assessment/reporting.

When the government or the employer initiates a major change, the onus is on them to provide the necessary time, training, and supports. Teachers shouldn't need to forfeit their professional development days for this purpose, nor should there be pressure to do so. Remember, there are provisions in our collective agreements that apply to technological change and curriculum implementation. Please contact your local if you have any questions or concerns about what is happening in your school. 

Free workshop on economics from a progressive perspective

posterThe BC Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), Seth Klein, is offering a seminar that will provide useful knowledge in understanding the economy and critical issues facing BC-essential in teaching and in talking with friends and colleagues about the possibilities of a better path after the next election.

The seminar is co-sponsored by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the BC Teachers' Federation.

The seminar is set for Saturday, February 25, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the BCTF building, 550 West 6th Avenue. 

The seminar is free, but the number of participants is limited. To reserve your spot, send an email to economics@bctf.ca.

Adult education in BC: A Canadian outlier

Public investment in adult education improves lives, fights poverty, supports local economies, and creates more equitable access to higher education. A new report from the BC wing of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says that BC's cuts to adult education are putting our province at an economic disadvantage. The report urges BC to follow the example of Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba and restore tuition-free adult education to those who need it. 

Supporting trans-inclusive organizations

The following is a statement from BCTF President Glen Hansman:

The recent BCTF Representative Assembly adopted an important local resolution pertaining to trans-inclusive organizations. The resolution that carried reads as follows: 

That the BCTF publicize to its members the November 2016 BCFED convention decisions to encourage organizations who are trans-exclusionary to change their practices, and to encourage affiliates to donate their dollars to trans-inclusive organizations.

The resolution refers to a position taken by the BC Federation of Labour at its convention held in November 2016, and was overwhelmingly supported by delegates to the convention. The BCTF's Representative Assembly has affirmed the position taken by the BC Federation of Labour. More information can be found in the Human Rights and Women's Rights reports in the BCFED's convention book

The practice of excluding some women because of how those women happened to have been identified by a doctor or those women's parents at birth is at odds with the BCTF's and the labour movement's commitment to the rights of all equity-seeking groups, and cannot be condoned.

We cannot be on the one hand advancing inclusion of our trans students, while on the other hand donate to any organization that would exclude them as adults.

We have students in BC's schools who are transitioning in their teens, and even pre-teens. The Federation advocates for supports, services, safety, and inclusion for those students. How they self-identify is the final word-not what their parents or a doctor might have said when they were born.

Members are encouraged to watch this recent 12 minute documentary about a student in Prince George, or read the stories shared by students in this recent issue of the Teacher Magazine.  

The gender or sex assigned to someone at birth by their doctor or their parents is of no business to the school system or anyone else. It is the responsibility of the school system, and all of us connected with it, to respect the self-identification and privacy of the individual student with whom we are working-and pro-actively work to ensure their safety and inclusion.

This responsibility is further reinforced by the changes made to the BC Human Rights Code this summer. The code has been updated to include gender identity and gender expression. The BCTF was one of the many organizations actively lobbying for these changes, and is working to support implementation of those changes throughout the public sector-including in BC's public schools.

Similarly, within the union, there is an increasing awareness and commitment to maintaining safe and inclusive environments for members from equity-seeking groups-including members who happen to be trans, whether they are out or not. The BCTF Representative Assembly and the Annual General Meeting have carried numerous motions with regard to addressing harassment, discrimination, and hate directed at trans members of our school communities, and likewise within our union and within broader society. In recent years, numerous existing policies and procedures of the Federation have also been updated in this regard.

While working to advance equity and inclusion for our trans members within our union and broader society, it would be inconsistent to continue to donate to or promote an organization that would exclude them.

Likewise, while working to advancing equity and inclusion for our women within our union and broader society, it would be inconsistent to continue to donate to or promote an organization that would exclude some women due to how they were identified at birth.

The BCTF continues to support and promote the work the women's organizations and rape crisis shelters in British Columbia. Violence against women, sexism, and misogyny are all too common-and all need to be eradicated. 

The BCTF will continue to advocate in this regard, and support organizations that do this work.WARV

Donations and support will continue to be directed at those organizations that support all women. One such organization is WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre.