There are very few times that Norm Macdonald and I agree on things, but I have found a few exceptions. As a former teacher myself, I believe in a strong public education system. I respect and value our teachers and applaud them for how hard they work and the value they bring to the lives of our children. I believe that teachers deserve an affordable raise and that our children deserve all that can possibly be given in terms of class size and composition.
That said, I find it extremely disappointing that, recently, Mr. Macdonald has taken an opportunity to politicize this very serious provincial situation by trying to have us believe that there is a “right side and a wrong side”, that the Premier supports private over public schools and that she is “100 per cent to blame”. These statements are simply irresponsible, inaccurate and misguiding with the expressed intent of inspiring nothing more than emotional responses from constituents who deserve far better.
Mr. Macdonald neglects to acknowledge that negotiation never labels a right or a wrong side nor will the process ever assign blame to a single person. Mediated negotiation recognizes opposing sides and the differing opinions held and promote collaboration as both sides work toward a mutually agreeable settlement.
His need to assign blame neglects to mention that the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) continues to struggle with the concept of concession, which is a key element of any bargaining process, or that it is puzzling why the BCTF continue to reject the government’s offer to reopen schools while mediation/negotiation continues.
Disturbingly, Mr. Macdonald chose not to reference the fact that the BCTF actually refused to let teachers vote on suspending the strike during continued mediation or, equally puzzling, why the BCTF seems to want to force government to legislate teachers back to work knowing that this will result in the same dysfunctional relationship that has been the B.C. experience for the past 30 years.
Mr. Macdonald believes that it is fair for the BCTF to demand more money than has been awarded to any other B.C. public employee and then, on top of that, throw in a $5,000 teacher signing bonus. Sound fair to you?
Mr. Macdonald wants you to believe that the Premier favours private education, which is again puzzling considering B.C. has one of the highest rated public education systems in Canada with some of the best educational outcomes in the world!
Further, he neglects to acknowledge that the BCTF wants to go back to the old rigid ratios and formulas that in the past defined class size and composition knowing full well that no other province in Canada manages its classrooms this way. Why? They are inefficient, ineffective and highly discriminatory towards students with special needs.
Mr. Macdonald, you need to understand that blame is a waste of time and takes the focus off what is most important — getting kids back into classrooms. Norm, for the sake of B.C. students, start acting like an MLA and do something. Meet with and encourage your BCTF pals, telling them that they need to negotiate a solution rather than offering irresponsible no-thought solutions like binding arbitration. You need to do everything you can to get the BCTF back to the bargaining table and, if you do this, you will demonstrate with measurable effort that you do unequivocally support teachers, public education and, most importantly, kids.
Fairmont Hot Springs, B.C.