Teacher job action not about the money

Government officials not better qualified to decide what's best for students

Editor, The Record:

An open letter to education minister George Abbott:

I am concerned over the declining condition of our education system. I write to you as a taxpayer, registered voter, mother and more importantly, teacher. I am a learning support teacher at Mission Middle School and I love my job. I am continually challenged to make a difference in the lives of students and I know that I do. I have only been teaching for six years and this is my second go-round with job action. I detest it, but what I detest even more is the continual cuts to education, the lack of respect for my profession and government officials thinking they are better qualified to decide what is best for students instead of the people who work with them on a daily basis.

There are 1,200 students here, and we have three learning support teachers. I know that you are going to tell me that my problem is not a government problem but a local school board problem, but guess what Mr. Abbott, you are wrong. On my caseload I have 35 kids. Of those, 24 are assigned a “Q” designation, or more simply put, a learning disability. Your government has decided that students with this designation are not eligible for funding. This means students with a “Q” designation are falling through the cracks at an alarming rate.

Learning disabled students do not get classroom help because they do not provide extra funding to hire an education assistant. They do not get learning support blocks because they do not provide extra funding to hire additional learning support teachers. They are placed in classes of 32 or 34 kids with seven other “Q” students and three other behaviour students. They do not get the help in class because the classroom teacher is too busy trying to deal with students who have mild or severe behaviour issues in an already overloaded classroom. Why are “Q” students not as important as any other student in the school? Why is your government content to let these children fail and then blame the teacher?

Children deserve to be educated by the best means possible, not sent the message that a new roof on BC Place Stadium is more important. Your solution should be to trust the professionals on the front lines. You trust judges to use their education to make decisions in a court of law, so why do you not trust teachers?

Job action is not about money, it is about students, their rights and the respect of teachers. Please think twice before you pass Bill 22 and decimate what is left of our education system.

Alison Evans

Mission