OUR VIEW: A definite disconnect

We say: Teacher union’s military discussion paper a head-shaker

Sometimes, the teachers’ union can’t get out of its own way.

On Nov. 10 the B.C. Teachers’ Federation won a dramatic Supreme Court of Canada decision, essentially rolling back class sizes to pre-2002 levels. That means more teachers and classrooms. It also means additional money — hundreds of millions of dollars — will be required in the provincial education budget because smaller class sizes means more teachers and classrooms. The provincial government put aside money in case the court decision went this way, and the two parties put some language in their 2014 contract to deal with this potential situation.

It’s difficult to argue against smaller class sizes. When B.C.’s great teachers get to spend even a little more time with each individual student, we all win.

It’s unclear what kind of effect this will have in school districts which closed in recent years. Declining enrolment was a huge part of the decision to close those schools, and the guidelines for class sizes — now rolled back because of the Supreme Court decision — played a role in that math.

That is not to say SD 72 can open the closed schools to meet the new (old) class-size provisions. A large part, perhaps the primary factor, of the decisions on what schools to close related to the condition of the schools and how much money they would drain from the budget. Think old buildings and earthquake preparedness.

Regardless, teachers were justifiably delighted with the Supreme Court decision. Then came Remembrance Day. It’s a discussion paper that has been floating around the fringes of the BCTF and its website for some months, perhaps a year. A local veteran found it online on Remembrance Day after attending ceremonies. “Military Recruitment as a Social Justice Issue” was the header above some suggested actions for teachers to use as part of a “counter-recruitment campaign” in the schools. Among other things, it suggested teachers ask their local school boards to pass motions opposing Canadian Armed Forces’ recruitment in the schools.

Time and again, we find a disconnect between the dedicated, hard-working, talented teachers we see in our schools and what comes from the union that represents them.

– Black Press