Friday, September 19, 2014

Teachers, how do I love thee?

This room was much more crowded when it contained 31 students
Another voice of a BC parent, NIcole Sims
"Teachers, how do I love thee? And all the staff, and hard-working PAC members, I love you, too. You've all worked so hard to give our children the best experience they can have, the best education money can't buy. But you've also kept us, the majority of parents, in the dark about how budget cuts are impacting our schools.
Please stop it.
I suggest that it's time to keep records of all that's not going well in our system, and to point out where the blame lies. No money for the hydro bill or seismic upgrading? Broken desks and windows, but no budget for repairs? Rats in basement? Fly infestations? Decrepit playgrounds? No paper in the supply cupboards? British Columbians need to know.
Find someone at each school to take photos, keeps tabs, collect information about all of these short-comings. Send it to all MLAs, the Minister of Education, the Premier, and all the media. Spread that information all over social media.
British Columbians need to know. They will care, they will help, but they need to find out about it!"

This was a post in BC Voters Supporting BC Public Education and Teachers Facebook group and it was followed by many comments. Teachers spoke of freezing cold classrooms, classes held in public buildings etc. By now many of you heard how teachers have bought their own supplies because there was not enough money for them in the school. As funding has been reduced parents are often expected to supply more as well.  I can still see boxes of Kleenex in cupboards that some teachers would collect from each student at the beginning of the year.  That was something I personally bought myself on a regular basis-I didn't have room for 31 boxes of Kleenex anywhere in my classroom!

Many classrooms are full of teacher owned resources. I tried to give up spending my own money but it was difficult. When I retired instead of a gift from people who attended my party I chose to have money donated to a charity my class had supported, Room to Read, and our school library because library budgets have been being cut for years.

As far as working and learning conditions I personally have taught in too hot classrooms, too small classrooms, and too cold classrooms. I taught in a portable where the outdoor stairs flooded regularly and I was sure there was mold, and it was destroyed the following year so I guess I was right.
I sometimes think teachers are a little crazy, they love teaching and do it despite it being a poorly paid profession and they often have to provide their own tools. Anyway a lot of parents because of this strike and online discussions have " woken up" and won't be afraid to continue to put pressure on the government and ensure that local trustees and MLA's truly care about and advocate for public education.

Are BC Liberals afraid of teachers???

The BC Liberals have been been planning some expensive fundraising dinners so a group of teachers decided that they would like to attend to try to get some people to listen to their concerns about BC education.  They bought tickets to a fundraiser with MLA Doug Bing and special guests,  and this is what happened!  I am quoting teacher, Melanie Harris,

"Well, friends, the BC Liberals did not disappoint. This morning, our $1000 was refunded and our table at Doug Bing’s fundraiser tonight was returned to the Riding Association. They won’t let us in.

Our decision to attend tonight’s event as guests came about after much conversation between friends and colleagues about how we could have a more impactful effect on our current leaders at a local and provincial level. The rallies have been great. The MLA meetings have been… informative. The letters have been powerful. But we needed to change our game.

We decided we needed to make this more personal. We needed to step away from fiscal frameworks and balanced budgets. We needed to stop talking numbers and statistics and start talking people. We needed to stop working against the government because it wasn’t working. We booked a table at Bing’s fundraiser so that we could connect with our community leaders and their supporters on their turf, not in an adversarial way but as intelligent, respectful professionals who wanted to work collaboratively with our leaders to enact positive change. Buuuut, true to form, they aren’t interested.

On Wednesday, Bing’s assistant contacted the person who purchased our table and asked him for the names of all his guests. She wanted to make sure there were no teachers attending, for security reasons. (Yes, we are dangerous. The pen is mightier than the sword, etc. etc.) Yesterday, he provided our names and shortly after we were advised that our donation would be refunded. This morning, it was.

Ours was a valiant effort, friends, but in keeping with the current trend of investments and returns, we seem to have put in more than we’re getting out. Thank you to all who supported us in our effort to change the tone of conversation around issues in education and other social services. Collaboration and networking won’t begin tonight, as planned, but the gig isn’t up. We remain committed to keeping the conversation alive and welcome you all to join us."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Six Year olds weigh in on social justice and the teachers' strike

from a Grade One class this spring
I read another great post today on BC Voters supporting BC teachers and public education and asked Elena, the author (university professor and parent) if I could share it here.

Overhearing our conversation about the strike (as we drove by our kids' school with the teachers picketing), one of my kids asked: "Does Christy Clark have kids?" 
 Yes, a boy. 
"So he isn't in school either, right? He must also be excited to be going back to school, right?" 
 I am not making this up. The conversation occurred this morning.
So far, we didn't offer the kids (six-year-old twins) complex socioeconomic analyses of the teachers' strike. So my husband decided to open up the can of worms and explained that, well, her son is in school, because there are schools that stay open during strikes for those who pay extra money. "But if you don't have the extra money?" came the logical question. -- Well, then you don't go to school. "That's not fair. You're supposed to share."
Conclusion: If six-year-olds get the basics of social justice, then where would one peg the intellectual level of the BC Liberals?

Elena Pnevmonidou

Choosing to send your child to a private school is a right of a parent, but obviously if you have less income you have less options. Parents who send their children to private school  pay public school taxes as well as these fees, but private schools are funded partially by tax payers' money as well. The school in Bountiful, a centre of controversy, is a funded private school.
  Also parents who send children to private school are often encouraged to make generous donations to these schools that are tax deductible. Public schools take everyone who wants to go; private schools do not.  Many many parents are barely scraping by financially and don't have money to make additional financial contributions then already required by the public school.
And one can not but wonder that if your child goes to public school you may care more deeply about public education, the right of every child, and the best investment anyone can make, in my opinion.