Opinion Column


BCTF fights for teachers, kids

By Laila Yuile, City Hall

Teachers on strike in Vancouver last week. (REUTERS)

Teachers on strike in Vancouver last week. (REUTERS)


This week’s topic:

Should B.C. teachers remain unionized?

It’s more than a bit ironic that every anti-BCTF rant I’ve read during the ongoing dispute between teachers and the government fails to even touch on the egregious actions of the government over the last decade.

Frankly, it’s getting a bit old. And even more alarming is the suggestion that teachers would be better off without their union. I’ve said it before and I will say it again — I see nothing on the government’s side to indicate they truly value or understand that education is an essential step to growing our economy.

When making the argument that the teachers union is unreasonable, it’s convenient to not mention the longstanding legal battle that resulted in the government being admonished by the courts for failing to bargain in good faith.

Likewise, it’s convenient to fail to mention that the government illegally stripped class size and composition from the teachers’ contract, and it’s also convenient to forget to mention that testimony was given that the government deliberately tried to incite a strike with teachers.

I’ve always believed education is a cornerstone to a successful society, and history shows that where education is given a first priority by government, society benefits as a whole. Sadly, in this province, there has been a slow, but continual degradation of the entire system.

In a recent column, Brent and I addressed class size and composition, and how that impacts learning for all kids. These are two items that are critical to learning and success for every child in the classroom — the government should consider them basic essentials. But no, they don’t consider them essentials and have tried to get rid of both of them.

Read Brent's column here.

This is just one example of why the teachers union is so essential. Class size and composition are considered working conditions and, as such, part of teachers’ rights in their contract. Without the leverage and continual battle of the union to secure these conditions, my children and perhaps yours, if you have children, would clearly be left hanging. The government simply doesn’t think it’s a big deal.

Agree or not with the BCTF’s tactics and bargaining, without the protection and solidarity of their union, the government would quickly turn teachers into nothing more than glorified babysitters. It’s clear to me the BCTF is the only thing preventing this government from completely gutting education all together.

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.



Who wins this week's Duel?

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