Friday, October 21, 2005

Teachers should take Ready's deal; it's fair

VICTORIA - First, the main point. Teachers and government should both accept Vince Ready's recommendations - without conditions - and get the schools open.
Ready addresses the concerns of both sides, and gives both a face-saving way out of the deadlock.
Teachers don't get a wage increase, but that was never a realistic demand after other public sector unions accepted a two-year freeze.
But they still get more money, in a way Premier Gordon Campbell says the government can live with.
And the union has won an acknowledgment that there are problems in the classroom, and addressed them through the bargaining process, something the government had denied through most of the negotiations..
All in, Ready's proposals will mean the government will come up with $105 million to address teachers' concerns, without any increase to the salary grid.
Ready agreed there's a problem with class sizes and composition for kids in Grades 4 and above. Some classes are too big for children to learn, and include too many students with special needs who aren't getting help. The government should spend $20 million - enough to hire about 320 more teachers - to fix some of the problems, Ready says.
That's a gain for the teachers. The Liberals have maintained those issues can't be addressed through collective bargaining, and that it's the government responsibility to ensure effective learning conditions. Ready is confirming the government hasn't done the job.
Ready also proposes a $40-million injection to "harmonize salary grids" in the province, a measure that both sides supported but couldn't agree on in negotiations. That will mean raises for some teachers.
The BC Teachers' Federation would get an extra$40 million for its long-term disability fund. (Teachers want the government to pay a share of LTD premiums; the government doesn't want to. This is a one-time compromise.)
And supply teachers will get $5 million in improved pay.
It's far less than teachers wanted, far more than the government was prepared to do before the strike.
The money package will probably disappoint some school boards. Campbell emphasized in a Friday morning press conference that the government isn't putting any new cash into the system. The $105 million will come from the savings - about $150 million - that have flowed from not paying teachers for almost two weeks. Some districts hoped much of that money would stay with them for local priorities.
Ready supports the idea of a Learning Round Table, offered by the government on the eve of the strike as a forum for discussing issues like class size.
But he says the government's plan for a forum with equal representation from the BCTF, school trustees, parent advisory councils, superintendents and school administrators, would give teachers two of 10 seats. Not enough, says Ready, and the government has agreed to add more.
The union and government should also be meeting regularly to discuss teaching issues, Ready says. Those talks should include amendments to the School Act to set class size limits for Grades 4 to 12. (Limits were included in the teachers' contract until the Liberals used legislation to remove them in 2002. Limits were added to the School Act for the early grades, but there were only guidelines for average sizes for Grade 4 and up. They haven't worked to protect learning conditions.)
It's a reasonable package. The government has agreed.
But the BCTF is continuing a pattern of incompetent negotiating. Union head Jinny Sims says the union will only accept the recoomendations if the government agrees in writing to amend the School Act by June 30 to include class size limits for the senior grades.
The teachers'mistrust is understandable.
But bargaining is over. Ready has offered both sides a reasonable way out after a nine-day strike, which has hurt teachers, their supporters in other unions and - most importantly - students.
It is ridiculous brinkmanship to risk a longer strike, and more damage, in return for one more concession.
The teachers' union will pay a heavy price in public support if it doesn't accept this settlement.
Footnote: Did it have to come to this? Maybe. Labour disputes have their own pace and rhythm. Sometimes a settlement is not possible until both sides have tested their mutual resolve and bludgeoned into accepting compromise.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're incorrect on one point, Paul. The roundtable does not include representation from "parent advisory councils".

It includes representation from the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, a body whose members represent only about half of BC's schools. Further, one can hardly call this an independent body, since only about 8% of its funding comes from PACs--the vast majority of BCCPAC's budget comes from the Education Minister.

Despite a very deliberate branding campaign to position BCCPAC as "the voice of BC parents", BCCPAC has also clearly shown in the current dispute that it will not challenge its master. When polls consistently showed 2/3 of parents supporting the teachers, BCCPAC came out firmly on the side of government.

BCCPAC will only parrot the Minister's party line on this roundtable, unless consideration is given to including a truly independent parent voice

Anonymous said...

During the duration of this whole strike, Mike DeJong was asked in the house a number of times. Is Ready mediating this strike. The answer was always NO followed by a reading of his first job desciption. If you read his recommendations he says:
10 Oct Industrail Inquiry( That's the desription DeJong kept reading in the hosue.
17 Oct job became facilitate return to work.

When he booked out he had met with government, the union and the so called employer to make recommendations. He did so because they were at a impasse. Where I come from that what mediators do.

So here we have a labout minister using weasel words repeatedly. I believe the words are " Misleading the house. and you wonder why the union wants to see the governmens commitment in writing? and why DeJong is a lawyer

Gazetteer said...

Did it have to come to this?

Of course it did.

It was the only way the teachers could re-acquire the right to even sniff the possibility of a compromise that was out past the way, way far-right horizon two weeks ago.

And that is the true nature of their victory. And the victory that they have handed to Jim Sinclair and the BC Fed (who, by the way gets the 'pennnant winning' save here for his masterful pitching performance in the bottom of the 9th).



____
As an aside: Unfortunately, it appears that BCCPAC has now become little more than 'Astroturf'

edubabbler said...

Right on, Anonymous! The BCCPAC is just another highly-paid shill for Gordo's government. 63% of their $853K budget comes from the Ministry of Education--and then there are chunks of money that come indirectly from the government (through gaming funds).

The song BCCPAC's president is singing comes right out of the Liberal songbook--notwithstanding her insistence that BCCPAC is not choosing sides.

The budget of BCCPAC has gone up 28% since the Liberals came to power; the share of revenue from members has decreased. This may explain why it is that BCCPAC ignores the MANY resolutions passed at Annual General Meetings calling for a restoration of funding to education--funds that were stripped by the LIberals.

Interestingly enough, however, the resolutions passed by members are no longer accessible on BCCPAC's website: after all, it might be a tad embarassing for this outfit to have their members (and the public) see how outrageously they have ignored Liberal-unfriendly resolutions, while promoting those that are implicitly critical of teachers and supportive of Liberal government policy.

These guys aren't the voice of parents. They're the voice of Gordo's gang, paid for by you and me and teachers.

Gazetteer said...

edubabbler--

Can you give us a link source?

Thanks.

edubabbler said...

Gazetteer, the BCCPAC has posted its last four Annual Reports on its website. How money is reported is quite variable, but 2004 provides a pie chart showing income See page 3 of the report at: http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/who_are_we/organization/Annual_Report_2004.pdf

I notice that BCCPAC spends 34% of its resources on administration, and another 12% on "board support," which is admin by another name. Wow! I can't think of many registered charities that would have the chutzpah to spend almost half its budget on administration.

BCCPAC resolutions are accessible via http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/who_are_we/organization/Statement_of_Policy.htm

It's instructive to compare policy issues approved by members with the actions of BCCPAC. Gee, in 2005 the president has issued press releases and press conferences to talk about just about everything but the policies her members directed her to act on.
Press releases, in case you're a glutton for punishment, are available at
http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/Press_Releases/press_releases.htm

Gazetteer said...

Edu B.--

Thanks so much.

I got a headache wading through their site the other day.

I'll go back and look more closely.

If this truly is Astroturf (ie. just one more example of the RNC/Norquistian playbook exported), we've got to nip this stuff in the bud before they start cranking it up with things like, 'Environmentalists For Offshore Oil Drilling.'

Anonymous said...

Well its true.

Parents are not aloud to have an opinion. If they do, someone like yourselfs rips it up and says its worthless. I am a proud parent that volunteers throughout my district and I get crapped on constantly by people like you. Parents have too much power is what I hear. Parents need to be removed from the classrooms is what I hear from teachers and their unions. So when does it stop. BCCPAC is the only place that a parent can do something positive without somebody crapping all over you. Get all of your facts straight! I have heard from plenty of teachers that they want parents out and so does CUPE. So tell me something where do you hear about that?? Where does that show up in the media and tell me one other thing, I bet the both of you have no clue as to how much work parents do and I figure you both will have something harsh to say about me as well. So just add me to the BCCPAC list cause I am so happy that someone is listening to us the parents.

A proud parent of the Cowichan Valley

Anonymous said...

Proud parent, maybe if you and your BCCPAC pals stopped bashing them (and learned to put a sentence together correctly), you'd be more welcome in your children's schools.

Our school welcomes parents. We support and respect our teachers and they support and respect us. However, I'm sure that if we indulged in vitriolic personal attacks on our teachers (as has been known to happen in the Cowichan Valley) they'd be a tad less welcoming.

But you're missing the point entirely. No one here is trying to shut parents up. We're simply pointing out that:

* It's dishonest to suggest that BCCPAC speaks for all BC parents, when in fact it does not represent parents at almost half of our public schools.

*It's dishonest to suggest that BCCPAC is an independent voice for parents when in fact it receives most of its funding from government.

* It's dishonest to selectively speak for one's own members, especially when a non-partisan organization chooses to ignore or highlight member positions along partisan lines.

Anonymous said...

Proud parent, maybe if you and your BCCPAC pals stopped bashing them (and learned to put a sentence together correctly), you'd be more welcome in your children's schools.

Our school welcomes parents. We support and respect our teachers and they support and respect us. However, I'm sure that if we indulged in vitriolic personal attacks on our teachers (as has been known to happen in the Cowichan Valley) they'd be a tad less welcoming.

But you're missing the point entirely. No one here is trying to shut parents up. We're simply pointing out that:

* It's dishonest to suggest that BCCPAC speaks for all BC parents, when in fact it does not represent parents at almost half of our public schools.

*It's dishonest to suggest that BCCPAC is an independent voice for parents when in fact it receives most of its funding from government.

* It's dishonest to selectively speak for one's own members, especially when a non-partisan organization chooses to ignore or highlight member positions along partisan lines.

Anonymous said...

Had the government been listening to the parents or the union,this event wouldn't have occured. The government couldn't even admit that they had shifted Ready's job , to get people back to work and the kids in the school. They finally admitted they didn't even know just how large the classes were, and how many special needs kids were in the classes.

On anumber of occassions the Labour minister was asked if Ready was on a new mandate, he said no. The Labour minister denies he was wrong as recently as question period a few minutes ago.

Ready wrote a report and said he was,tasked to try to get the schools reopened.

So why should most of us trust the government of the day and any outfit they give a lot of money to, and expect and get their support.

From what I hear, this oufit represents only some schools in BC. Last time I looked, the union represents all teachers except those in private schools, and they have their own association.

Parents have kids in all of the schools and know when they are being snowed.

l'observateur said...

Hey, Proud Parent, my children have attended five different schools. I have helped in their libraries and in each of their classrooms. I have gone of field trips close to home, and have organized ones across the country and to Europe. I have never been "crapped on" by any teacher--including those whose decisions I have questioned.

But, proud parent, maybe your problem comes from misunderstanding the role of a volunteer in any professional situation. I have volunteered in many health-related organizations, and although I believe I performed a valuable service working with seriously ill people, I am not a nurse or doctor: I am a volunteer. I have not had the training of a medical professional, and I am not, ultimately, responsible for the long-term well-being of patients.

Volunteers, whether in a hospice or a school, need to recognize that they don't have the professional degree or standing; they aren't ultimately responsible for the fate of the people they work with; and they are not the equal of the professionals who they help.

Finally, Proud Parent, a touch of civility towards those you wish to help is always helpful in smoothing relationships. If I were a professional, I think I'd be less than enthusiastic about having an angry volunteer "helping" me do my job.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of being crapped on, check this out.
http://vancouver.cbc.ca/regional/servlet/View?filename=bc_teachers-classes20051024

Less than 24 hours after teachers voted to accept the Vince Ready compromise the Libs are proving it isn't worth the paper it's written on.

Dave Macmurchie said...

Which is exactly why the government declined to put it in writing. Sam Goldwyn must have had Gordon Campbell in mind ...