It’s all about the students — as long as those students maintain their needs and interests between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Not only will the latest job-action stunt by the Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association (KTTA) hurt students — and only students — it wipes out any advantage teachers may have gained from the provincial government’s ridiculous offer to pay teachers for having more students in their classrooms.
The KTTA has decided its teachers in Kamloops and the region will no longer coach sports teams after hours.
They will no longer gather before or after school to have kids practise their instruments or go through drama rehearsal. They will not supervise in the schoolyard during lunch hour and they will not meet after-hours with students to plan once-in-a-lifetime graduation ceremonies.
Oh, and it’s all about the students, of course.
KTTA president Jason Karpuk told KTW he is aware this latest job action will have an impact on students.
However, he added, “the kids will suffer under Bill 22,” the soon-to-be law that will impose a cooling-off period, mandate the appointment of a mediator and extend the particulars of the previous contract between the teachers’ union and Victoria.
The problem with this withdrawal of services by Kamloops teachers is that the kids will also suffer — and Bill 22 will still become law.
So, what is the point of a teachers’ union punishing students because that teachers’ union is upset with government?
There is no logic to the action.
For argument’s sake, let’s agree with Karpuk that “kids will suffer under Bill 22,” due to diluted class-size restrictions and no improvement in composition numbers.
Let’s agree on those points alone because those two issues are the real issues, the true concerns that merit discussion, the issues that give teachers a serious argument in their battle.
It’s not about performance reviews, the right to transfer teachers or improving an already envious benefits package.
And, it is certainly isn’t about wages.
Even under the B.C. Liberals’ net-zero mandate, teachers in B.C. will continue to receive generous salary increases for the first 10 years of their careers.
A teacher in the Kamloops-Thompson school district, fresh out of university with a four-year degree and a year of teacher education, will earn a salary this year of $52,840.
That wage will jump next year to $55,259, and to $57,677 the year after, to $60,095 the year after, to $62,514 the year after, to $64,932 the year after, to $67,351 the year after, to $69,769 the year after and to $74,353 in the final year of the wage grid.
From $52,840 to $74,353 in a decade — and that is without any salary increases in the provincial contract.
Not exactly fodder for a pauper’s protest.
And, those salaries rise with increased education.
There is also the matter of the last contract, the 2006-2011 deal that gave teachers a 16 per cent hike in those grid numbers and handed each and every teacher a $3,700 signing bonus.
So, let’s dispense with any argument about salaries. Teachers in B.C. are very well compensated and enjoy guaranteed annual raises many in the private sector can only dream about.
The issues are class sizes and composition. Those are the real issues and they are serious concerns.
However, as long as the teachers’ union continues to stick to outrageous wage demands, and as long as the union locals maintain job action that achieves nothing but to make kids suffer, the real issues are not going to be exposed to the public, much of which is understandably weary of the battle, which, with the teachers’ union, rages on in perpetuity, decade after decade, regardless of which political philosophy is running the province.
Terry Sullivan, head of the Kamloops-Thompson school district, told KTW community and parental support will be needed to make extra-curricular activities a reality.
Here’s hoping a flood of volunteers appears to ensure track and field events, flag football programs and grad ceremonies continue to enhance the lives of our children.
After all, it’s all about the students, right?
* Christopher Foulds is editor of Kamloops This Week