Teachers left with little alternative but to strike

Many misconceptions and misrepresentations in teachers' job action issue

Editor, The Record:

In response to the letter someone left under my windshield wiper on the last day of the teacher’s strike, I’d like to state the following. There are a great many misconceptions and misrepresentations that have been taken as “truths” during this job action by teachers.

First, given the critical state of education underfunding there is suffering that occurs daily when students cannot get their needs met. It is not because teachers are incompetent or uninterested. Rather, it is because the queue is so long and the needs so great. It is physically impossible to get to everyone, with current class sizes, and with the diversity and intensity of individual needs. Students suffer while they languish, waiting, and teachers suffer in knowing what it would take to support these kids and being unable to do anything about it. Yes, I agree, there is a different kind of suffering that takes place during a strike, but we were left with little alternative, given the severity of the looming legislation in Bill 22.

Second, I’d simply like to challenge your statement that those who care for our children should be paid minimum wage. Is this how we, as a civilized society, want to proclaim our values? Schools are an environment founded on an ethic of care for all. Without this ethic, schools simply become rigid and unresponsive widget factories of little value to society.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I would like to say that I share your deep concern for the social justice issues of poverty, homelessness, and the declining state of health care. Please be clear that teachers are social activists, too. The BCTF has one of the most engaged, active, and informed social justice groups in the province.

Locally, dozens of Mission teachers regularly volunteer their time in such causes as the Homelessness Count, or facilitating Restorative Justice Processes involving troubled youth. I say to you that the answer to these ills is not to lower the standard of others who fare better, but to fight long and hard to raise the standards of those who languish at the bottom ranks of socio-economic status.

Elaine Kristiansen