Teachers still doing the job

Kendra Mann’s letter may have led readers to believe that teachers are not teaching their students as they have in the past.

Re: “Parents express disappointment,” November 30

Kendra Mann’s letter may have led readers to believe that teachers are not teaching their students as they have in the past. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each and every day they are with their students as they have always been, teaching, mentoring, supporting, and coaching — in short, creating the supportive educational community that the students of School District 8 deserve.

And yes we are on strike.  We are on strike for five main objectives: restoration of our illegally stripped contract language on class size limits and non-enrolling teacher ratios (students’ learning conditions); a fair salary increase (BC teachers are eighth highest paid in Canada); improved benefit package (has remained unchanged for 20 years); increased preparation time (comparable to Alberta and Ontario teachers); and the right to negotiate certain local items with our trustees.

I think it is most important to clarify a public misunderstanding which Ms. Mann referenced: intransigence of the parties at the bargaining table. The BC Teachers Federation is not intransigent. The government is. On December 2 the government’s representative at the bargaining table, Claire Avison, finally admitted that “government sets the mandate and it is not negotiable.” She made it very clear — the government is intransigent.

Teachers across BC have committed to teach our students through this phase of our strike. This in the face of a government that is intending on stripping our collective agreement so that they can continue, without contractual limitations, the gutting of our public education system. And we know all too well in Nelson the impact of this government’s flawed economic and ideological program: the highest child poverty rates in Canada; serious fiscal challenges; massive cuts to all public enterprises (health, government agencies and jobs, housing, social assistance, women’s centers, daycares, crisis centres, legal aid).

Thus, it was with sadness and frustration that local teachers read Ms. Mann’s letter. It is filled with inaccuracies which I have pointed out to her and the district parent advisory council president in a separate letter. We would rather they partner with teachers to pressure our local school trustees to demand this government stop the underfunding and ideological erosion of a highly successful (world renowned) public education system.

If you wish to discuss the teachers’ strike or other educational matters please contact me.

Thomas Newell

President NDTA