Re: New season for ‘School Wars’ (B.C. Views, Jan. 30)
There is an angry tone in Tom Fletcher’s column about upcoming contract negotiations between the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).
I wonder how much time Mr. Fletcher has spent in classrooms in recent years – he claims that students are taught propaganda in their social justice classes but the opposite is true: one of the key skills acquired in this class is the skill of recognizing propaganda.
Students learn that opinions and interpretations should not be arrived at before looking at issues through diverse ideological lenses as well as by collecting empirical evidence.
Mr. Fletcher’s negative attitude towards teachers bothers me a great deal because with over 40 years of experience in classrooms in different capacities, as well having a doctorate in education, I know what it takes for teachers to help children learn in classrooms – especially those children whose home environments do not support their efforts to be successful in school environments.
I was a teacher in British Columbia before Premier Vander Zalm changed the bargaining structure for teachers and while the new structure initially worked well, the past decade has shown us that no structure can work effectively if there is no will on the part of the employer to honor either the process of the negotiation or the contract that is agreed upon.
Until the past decade, I felt that there was respectful communication between the Ministry of Education, researchers in universities, local school boards, administrators, teachers and teachers’ assistants. Teachers were recognized as professionals and our input was valued within local districts and within the ministry. What has happened to this attitude?
Partly it is the result of our present provincial government’s determination for us to have the lowest taxes in the country. But partly it is the voices of journalists such as Mr. Fletcher who make strong negative judgments towards the very people who are trying to maintain a strong public school system against all odds.
Journalists have a responsibility to inform the public – but that information needs to have its ideological bias stated up front and it needs to be based on empirical evidence.
Propaganda of the type published in Mr. Fletcher’s column does no good but is harmful to society as a whole.