Dear Ms. Moira Stilwell,
I am writing you again today. I am utterly dismayed. The unwillingness to let go of E80 in the bargaining sessions demonstrates the Liberal party’s need to be above the law. In proposing this condition, your government is admitting that they have been wrong in the last dozen years when they stripped the class size and composition language from the BCTF bargaining rights.
I care deeply about public education in this province. I hope that you do too. I wish your/my government would not view this as a cost, but a necessary and beneficial investment in our future. I wish that you would astonish us all by restoring class size and composition before the Supreme Court rules that you should. This brings tears to my eyes to imagine it!
I know "austerity measures” and a promise of fiscal responsibility helped get your government voted in again. So if this is your stand, that you have a mandate to be fiscally responsible, then your party should say that you don’t have enough money to adequately fund public education. Instead, the Liberal party members continue to dismiss and demean teachers by saying they ask for too much. These words and attitudes hurt. I have not heard your words on this issue and this is why I continue to write to you, in hopes that you will respond. I hope that you will take a stand for public education in our province.
I have taught in Vancouver for twenty three years. I love my vocation. I truly believe it’s my calling. Since yesterday my eyes are full of tears when I realize what I face in light of your government’s position.
You see, I do believe in smaller class sizes and in supporting integration of individuals with unique needs into the regular classroom. I have seen this support eroded to the point where I no longer feel we’re giving adequate service for the needs of my students in grade four. I deeply believe in and value supported integration. We don’t have that anymore.
When I entered my profession, I never dreamed that I would be in this position today of having to defend my beliefs about best educational practice. I didn’t know I would have to defend myself to members of my government while at the same time doubting that they are even reading my letters, hearing my voice, or even caring to put their neck out to change what is going on, for the development of our society.
I will be picketing Henderson Elementary School, a school community in your riding, on Tuesday. I do so not for myself. I am already about -$5600 at this point in our dispute. I do so because I believe that public education is an integral, essential part of our society. I don’t want to see it disintegrate even more.
I want to teach. But I long to teach in a supported system that is adequately funded so that learning flourishes. In order for this to happen, I’m asking that true, unconditional mediation take place. The BC Supreme Court has ruled that negotiating about class size and composition is my right. I am taking a stand on this one. I will not give that up by accepting what your government is proposing with E80. If I did accept E80, I would be turning my back on what I believe about education. I would be turning my back on my own students, and I‘m certainly not prepared to allow a government to duck out of respecting the BC Supreme Court rulings.
As my elected representative and as the elected representative of the school community I am privileged to work in, can you assure me that you hear our voice in this issue?
Joan Shannon Jung