Sunday, October 5th, 2014….
After one of the most difficult stretches in British Columbia education history, it is time to acknowledge the amazing efforts of the teachers in this province. Since mid-June of last school year until September 22nd of this year, public schools across British Columbia sat empty while teachers were engaged in a bitter labour dispute with the Liberal government. After three weeks of rotating strikes followed by a lockout and 10% reduction in pay, teachers went on strike. The reasons for the conflict were many, including the BCTF looking for a wage increase and some way of addressing class size and composition issues, while the government claimed that the provincial budget could not afford such requests.
After months of negotiations resulting in no progress, on September 17th, teachers voted to ratify a new contract and returned to work. Did the BCTF get everything they were asking for? Absolutely not, but schools are once again buzzing with enthusiasm and excitement as staff and students try to get things 'back to normal'. I commented in an earlier post about how much I missed the energy supplied by staff and students. Despite being tired at the end of the first two weeks with people back in the building, I find myself energized and excited by their presence. Many teachers are likely still feeling unappreciated and under-valued, but despite those feelings and the emotional and financial hardships that have been suffered by so many, teachers have managed to overcome feelings of anger and resentment, and the school is busily preparing for the Grade 8 Retreat, the Mini-school Strathcona trip and a variety of other fantastic opportunities for our students.
As a new member of the McNair community, I have been warmly welcomed and I am impressed by all I have seen. Students are extremely friendly and engaging, and staff are caring and passionate about their profession. The activities I have seen in classrooms and in the extra-curricular aspect of school have been exemplary. Already, teams are up and running, teachers are sponsoring clubs and groups, and classroom activities continue to impress the observer and engage the learners in the room.
I want to thank our teachers for:
- fighting and sacrificing for what they feel is important in education in British Columbia
- giving so much time and energy to their jobs
- providing students with first-rate instruction and learning opportunities
- continuing to volunteer and do extras like coaching, student council and many different clubs
- welcoming me as part of this community
On behalf of all members of the McNair community and from everyone with a vested interest in public education in British Columbia, I would like to say "Thank-You" and Happy World Teachers Day! We can not thank you enough for all that you have done and continue to do for the profession and the children in your care.