Over-simplified reaction to an unfortunate crisis

Parents might consider speaking out for teachers instead of against them

I’d like to sarcastically say thanks to Paul Rudan for vividly providing an example of what ignorance and careless expression of biased opinion looks like.

His column in your paper on Friday, May 11, reveals an oversimplified reaction to an unfortunate crisis in education in this province caused by the provincial governments passing of their regressive and immoral legislation, Bill 22. I’ve coached in the school system and in the community for 24 years. I do not take the decision to withdraw my volunteer activities lightly. Doing so lessens my personal satisfaction in my work and hinders the maintenance and development of school culture and community.

However, the action to withdraw these voluntary sevices, not “duties” was a necessary last resort.

The government has systematically over the years, downloaded their reponsibilities onto an overwhelmed system without providing for or paying to support them.

School PACs supplement school site budgets, four year olds go to school to lessen the governments obligations to child care and teachers manage a ever-growing curriculum expected to solve or drive change to address a variety of society’s ills.

Drug abuse, bullying, environmental stewardship, gambling, poverty, smoking and obesity are some of the issues schools have been tasked with as add- ons to the traditonal, well known subject areas we all know and expect schools to cover.

I’ve watched a lot of newscasts over the years where some tradgedy seems inevitably to come back to, “the schools need to do a better job of….” (just fill in the blank).

Teachers’ volunteer work keeps some kids involved in activities that some couldn’t otherwise arrange or afford. They are important roles we fill but hugely underappreciated. In many school systems coaches are paid for what B.C. teachers volunteer to provide.

So again, teachers, in taking a stand, are left with only one chip to play, their own time. Their personal time which so many have given at the cost of their breaks, lunches and family time which most workers in other sectors view as a sacred right.

Teachers have always done these things without looking at a clock and saying, “woops, coffee time” or “I can’t, I’m hungry.”

I, like most teachers, have missed my own kids sports activities and concerts to attend those of my students.

For the employer to recently appeal to the LRB to call this unpaid work we give freely, part of our job, is insidious.

I think it is sad not only for kids but so unfair that some in the public are so used to getting these extra-curricular “gifts” from teachers that they have forgotten that the teachers involved are volunteers.

No one goes wild when a community baseball or hockey coach hangs it up after years of volunteering.

Instead they are thanked for their gracious contributions over the years.

As a school coach I have been thanked by players and parents about 20 times over 24 years, spanning about 100 teams and and over 1,500 players.

Nobody in the school system wants to stop providing out of school opportunities for kids but when does it all become just enough?

Enough of being used and expected to do things by a government that wanted to shirk their fiscal obligations to the public while also shrinking revenue by decreasing the taxes paid by their big business friends.

I am confident this will all get worked out some day and the kid’s temporary suffering will become a distant, unfortunate memory.

Children are resilient and have been made so in part by the support from their teachers.

I think it will take the public realizing what this government is doing to the public interest on the whole to solve this problem.

Parents might consider speaking out for and with the teachers instead of against them.

Look at what teachers have done for your students over the years in and out of class and celebrate that.

Then work with us and add your voices to ours and tell this government through your MLA, that they should stop taking advantge of the good will of public workers and negotiate in good faith.

Mike Rennie