Dear Susan Lambert, Hon.

Christy Clark

Compensate teachers more favourably, but fire the very worst of them.

Both Sides Have Valid Arguments People are not happy with teachers. A lot of people see them to be in a position of unparalleled tenure in a time when most other fields, even in the public sector, have seen substantial layoffs and instability in the last five years. Education is a very large part of a provincial budget which is already squeezes by an anaemic GDP. However, teaching is hard work, and in many fields it's underpaid compared to its conjugate jobs. A chemist makes more than a chemistry teacher. Graduates of education degrees make less than graduates of most other fields among respondents of surveys (statistical issues aside). It's not a lot of compensation for the benefit provided.

The Tradeoff Teachers are paid less, but this is in part made up by stability. A doctor or a lawyer is nearly 50 times as likely as a teacher to lose his or her credentials. Compensation comes with a tradeoff of accountability. Some people have bad days or even years if they're adjusting to a life change or working with a new grade in an unfamiliar subject. The BCTF does a good job of protecting these teachers so they can continue to focus on their job instead of worrying about the future. Keep doing this. However, when a teacher gets a mass of student and parent and even peer complaints year after year, that teacher is being protected unduly at the expense of students. These are the ones that get remembered, please stop letting them represent the BCTF.

Personal experience

I have personally seen a teacher inspire a barrage of registered complaints regularly over a period of seven years to no change in staffing arrangements or teaching quality.

Some subjects are hard (this one was math), and are more likely to get complaints than others, but surely there's a record of these and a few bad apples can be identified. This teacher was especially frustrating because, as a senior, I offered to teach a parallel class to this teacher's class for free to help the students and was shut down by administration because they were afraid of union action.

What part of that is for the sake of the students?

It hurts teachers as a whole too. It makes their system look bad, and they have to spend additional time undoing the damage of their peers in later grades (or the same grade repeated) to achieve the same results. This vast majority of teachers, who entered into their profession because they wanted to make a difference, are having their power to improve the world diminished by the rare lead weight in their system.

This Solution is Practical We have a glut of recent B.Ed. graduates in the waiting list for jobs, in some districts (e.g. West Kelowna) people have been on this list for 3 years. This means that many jobs could be replaced in a snap. These grads aren't waiting forever, they're going to other provinces and countries, and the public investment in their post-secondary education is going with them. Recent B.Ed. grads have no seniority, so they would make less money than the teacher being replaced. This savings would be ongoing because in the coming years they will still make less money than the replaced teacher would.

This savings could partially offset the cost of granting a raise to teachers as a whole. Spending more money on education could be justified by the expected improvement in performance. Good PR all around.

All you have to do is look at what's really costing both of you.

One final word of caution: I was able to send this over the internet. It can do a lot of things, including teach through tools like Khan Academy and Public schools are no longer the only path for children to get the education they need to succeed. Sort this out between yourselves, or face being obsolete.

Thank you greatly for your time, I hope this helps you both. - Michael "Jack" Davis

PhD Candidate in Statistics - Simon Fraser University BC Student for 21 Years Public and private university tutor. Former private high school tutor (Westside Tutor, Kelowna).

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