It’s evident who is gaining

It doesn’t take a math prof to realise that with declining revenues, and increased costs, the buck has to stop somewhere

I find it very depressing that there appears to be no path to labour unrest in our schools.

Judging by the public spanking issued – by the president of the Campbell River District Teachers Association nonetheless – in response to a column using dark humor to express concern for the impact of BCTF actions on the children we entrust to their members I can only imagine what language and tone is used around the privacy of the negotiating table.

I can empathise with Mme. Thompson, I have no doubt that being around so much negativity can take its toll, but snapping at shadows only makes things worse, so maybe it’s time to step back and look at some of the reasons the BCTF is not receiving universal support.

I tend to be leery of BCTF statements, having been a student during a teachers strike, and a parent during the most recent illegal teachers strike, where children learned that it’s okay to break the law if you disagree with it.  What I have learned, is that they (the BCTF), always say, “It’s for the students” and “smaller class sizes” and what always happens is, they get their raises, they get their signing bonuses ($3,000 last time), and despite increased funding, class sizes get bigger, and student services get cut. During the last decade, the SD 72 budget has increased by six per cent even though student enrollment is down by about 2,000 students. During the same time, teachers’ salaries and benefits have gone from under 60 per cent to over 70 per cent of the budget. That number does not include principals, vice principals, clerical, janitorial, or maintenance staff. It’s statically evident who is gaining and who is suffering.

Pick your poison; virtually every sector of our economy has been hit hard. In the same paper as the editorial, you can read about people risking jail to steal copper from the corpse of what was our largest employer (perhaps to buy school supplies or pay for a field trip), even the good news around here is kinda sad. The new parkland we have, used to be a large sawmill with a shake and shingle mill next door, the parkland exists not because the operations were relocated, just closed.

There are parents out there that toil in toxic atmospheres, enduring temperature extremes that would crack corning ware, and bear the scars of witnessing death and dismemberment amongst their coworkers (sometimes, you get an extra day off without pay, after such an incident). There are over 150 direct workplace fatalities every year in B.C. and many times that number in injuries and premature deaths due to chronic exposure to any number of nasty things. Of the folks in the private sector who have not had to relocate or retrain, many of them, unionised or not, have been forced to take substantial wage and benefit cuts just to keep their jobs.

This current school year, in SD 72, of a $50.5 million budget, $45 million is going to salaries and benefits. It doesn’t take a math prof to realise that with declining revenues, and increased costs, the buck has to stop somewhere. If 65 grand plus benefits ain’t enough for ya, I hear Fort Mac is real purdy, and you can still summer here.

Call it teacher bashing, call it class envy,  call it whatever you want, but use some self-reflection, and please realise that there are reasons, and to many, they are valid.

I know many teachers, and the vast majority seem to be decent, reasonable people, and I find it hard to believe that such a defensive, reactionary, and divisive lady as Mme. Thompson is speaking your real positions. To the teachers of Campbell River – have the courage to stand up to your union leaders, and do what’s right for the children, your public image, and the overburdened taxpayers that you rely on.

Make this a teachable moment, show compassion during lean times, and let the children see what sacrifice and community are all about. While it’s true that the workers of this province are as solid as rocks, the stones are tired and worn from giving so much blood.

I request my name not be published, as I have witnessed and experienced the retribution leveled upon children after a parent has dared to publicly express a difference of opinion.

However, if the editor feels it necessary to use my name, please include the paragraph above.

Eric Becherer

P.S.

In going through various school budgets, at http://www.sd72.bc.ca/Publications/Forms/AllItems.aspx it?s become painfully evident, that other than heat, light, and personnel, the non-educational needs of the students, are being filled by the PACs. I never realised how necessary and integral those volunteers were, so a very heartfelt tanks from me and my children to all of the PACs.