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It’s all about ideology in BC Education – more

April 5, 2014 by Tunya

It’s All About IDEOLOGY In BC — Part THREE

I’ve sent this essay to more people than just this blog.  This is what I attached as background.

[ Disclosure: As a veteran of 40+ years in parent rights issues in education I wish to pass on to young parents some of my observations.  My eyes were opened wide when in my early involvement with BC party politics (NDP) I found that the teacher union had considerable influence with the Ministry of Education.  Also, suddenly, “new members” overwhelmed our Youth Wing when it was preparing a submission to government on widening choices in education and that proposal was defeated.  It became clear that the teacher union opposed choice and was generally unsympathetic to parents.  I soon left the socialist party for efforts where choice enjoys a positive reception and now have a libertarian point-of-view. Young parents tend to be very trusting of authorities. My intent is to — hopefully — update parents about the very political and power-hungry atmosphere in public education so that parent voice can still carry some influence in decision-making before it is too late. ]

So, to continue: But first I must say this to Tara and other young parents struggling to find common sense in education today.  Please don’t give up.  Easy to say, and parents don’t usually have an appetite for conflict and are too busy raising families.  The system’s first priority is its own survival but parents have their children’s survival as a priority.  And accountability from our overseers — the government and boards — is, unfortunately, tied up with compromises. That is why these Math Wars are important and parents cannot give up on this.

Furthermore, nothing can more outrageous and meant to bully than for a unionist to say political interference in schools is none of parents’ business.  If ideology dominates teacher behavior — this is just not acceptable.

Now, to add more information about the volatile and precarious state of education affairs in BC.  Today, we heard that Phase One of job action is being planned. So, what else is new?  40 years in the wilderness is not just in the Bible!

In my earlier essays I mentioned how important Professional Development is — in the right hands.  But, in BC much is in the hands of the teacher union.  They say it is an “autonomy” issue.  Teachers are the drivers, not the driven.

I stated how PD seems to be a taboo topic — no-one seems to have correct answers.  In fact, there seems to be a lot of buck-passing, which just strengthens my suspicion that something sneaky is going on.  Perhaps PD HAS been passed to the BCTF on a silver platter.  I’ve asked, but any information provided is obsolete because our College of Teachers has been abolished, and it NEVER did get involved in PD — perhaps because the union was shown in investigation to have generally run the agenda. “Regrettably, it must be said that the disruption and dysfunction that has dominated the attention of the College Council, particularly since 2004, has put the core public interest, and the interest of students, at risk . . . “ (6)

So, I will be looking further, to find out who is responsible for a) ensuring currency of teachers in their “professionalism” and b) VERY IMPORTANT, since a radical shift — a transformation — is being proposed in curriculum and practice  — just how is “re-education” to take place.  This second part can’t be stressed too strongly because for unprepared teachers to try and bluff and bluster their way through this is to invite serious psychological and cognitive damage to kids.  Iatrogenic damage induced by the practitioners.  Won’t there be cause for legal remedies for negligence and malpractice?

That PD is a bargaining chip in current negotiations tells me how cheaply held is this important matter.  I heard the BCTF president at their recent AGM declare (from my notes) — “our commitment to Professional Development has never been greater, teacher-led Professional Development has never been more important . . . The Ministry of Education has created a new position — Superintendent of Professional Development — but that’s still not been filled.”

I can only interpret that Jim Iker was signaling strongly to his constituency that PD would be big-time. I’m sure I noted his seeming satisfaction that the Ministry had not yet filled this PD position.

In comparison to another well-functioning Teaching Council (Scotland) another report stated that BCCT “failed utterly . . . the blame for this failure rests squarely on the attitude of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, which rejected the professional aspect of the College’s mandate in favour of its own agenda, and put the interests of its members and its own ideology ahead of the public interest.”  The report goes on to conclude that there is little to expect by way of positive change, because of “their [BCTF] constant and costly recourse to the judicial system, their apparent failure to learn from experience, and their stubborn refusal to adopt anything but confrontational tactics.”

 (6)      A College Divided: Report of the Fact Finder on the BC College of Teachers, 2010, Donald J Avison

 (7)      The British Columbia College of Teachers: An Obituary, Alastair Glegg, Historical Studies in Education, Fall 2013

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