#BCed negotiator confirms BC #Liberals bargained in bad faith with teachers #bcpoli #ubc # yteubc #ubced

Katie Hyslop, The Tyee, March 6, 2014– In a letter to the editor sent to the Creston Valley Advance on March 5, Melanie Joy, a trustee for the Kootenay Lake School District and former chair of the BC Public School Employers Association, said the provincial government bargained in bad faith during the 2011-12 teacher collective agreement negotiations.

Joy, who chaired the negotiating team charged with reaching a deal with the teachers union from 2011 to 2013, said she appreciates current Education Minister Peter Fassbender was not involved in negotiations at the time, but said his assertions that government was fully committed to bargaining a collective agreement with the union are “inconsistent with my experience.”

“By my firsthand recollection, government tactics concerning the Bill 28 reconciliation sessions, and collective bargaining between the BCTF and BCPSEA, were accurately described in Justice Griffin’s BC Supreme Court ruling when she concluded, “Government thought that a teachers strike would give the government a political advantage in imposing legislation that the public might otherwise not support.

This strategy was pursued, in part, by the restrictive bargaining mandate set by government in addition to the net-zero monetary directive. No other part of the public sector was asked to seek so many concessions from a union with no increase in compensation.”

In 2012, the provincial government introduced the Education Improvement Act, which prevented teachers from negotiating class size and composition limits until after an agreement had been signed, instead setting government’s own class size limits. It also installed a mediator — Charles Jago, a BC Liberal Party donor and author of a 2006 BC Progress Board report that said the province’s education system was “constrained by legislated processes and provisions as well as by labour agreements” — to help reach an agreement between the teachers’ union and its employers.

Joy said the employers’ association and Jago tried their best, and succeeded, in reaching a negotiated deal. But government was disappointed with the effort.

“Although the negotiated agreement met the monetary mandate, government representatives informed us of their dissatisfaction with the agreement, including the lost opportunity, now identified in the recent judgment, to “impose concessions which advance education initiatives” through legislation triggered by the failure of collective bargaining.”

Minister Fassbender’s public statements about wanting to reach a long-term negotiated collective agreement in the current round of bargaining is undermined by government’s actions in this area, said Joy, referring specifically to government’s replacement of the employers’ association’s negotiating team this past summer with one government negotiator.

“Despite how pleased the minister now claims to be with the negotiated agreement, the facts that this government 1) moved swiftly after the election to replace elected school trustees on the [association's] board with its own public administrator, 2) appoint a government negotiator in the midstream of current [union] bargaining, and 3) replace the senior staff at [the association], tell a very different story.”

Given the ongoing teachers strike action vote, Joy concluded her letter by advising the government to heed Justice Susan Griffin’s recent decision on the unconstitutionality of the Education Improvement Act.

“In the future, it might be wise to follow Griffin’s reflection that perhaps, “This affirms the wisdom of the Korbin labour relations model: government is removed from the direct bargaining relationship with public sector employees and bargaining takes place with the employer association, which has a more direct interest in reaching agreement.”

Read her entire letter here. Results of the union’s strike action vote will be announced at a BC Teachers’ Federation press conference tonight at 9:30 p.m.

Read More: The Tyee

#BCed teachers overwhelmingly approve strike vote #bcpoli #ubc #ubced #yteubc #edstudies

BCTF News Release, March 6, 2014– A total of 26,051 teachers voted yes in a province-wide vote conducted March 4–6, 2014. In all, 29,301 teachers cast ballots, of whom 89% voted yes.

“With this vote, BC teachers have sent a very clear message to the BC government; it’s time to negotiate in good faith, take back the unreasonable proposals, and offer teachers a fair deal that also provides better support for students,” BCTF President Jim Iker said.

In releasing the results, Iker stressed that there is no immediate action planned. “There will be no job action tomorrow, there will be no job action next week,” Iker said. “Teachers now have 90 days to activate the strike vote with some sort of action. There is no set timing for when we will begin. It will depend entirely on what is happening at the negotiating table and whether or not the government and employers’ association are prepared to be fair and reasonable.

“BC teachers are committed to negotiating a deal at the table. That is our goal. The vote is about putting pressure on both sides to get an agreement. We will work very hard to get that negotiated settlement without any job action. A strike vote is a normal process in labour relations and helps apply pressure to both parties during negotiations.”

If job action becomes necessary, Iker outlined that it will occur in stages, but any initial action will not:

  • include immediate school closures or disruption for students
  • ask teachers to stop participating in extracurricular activities
  • affect report cards or communication with parents.

Any initial job action will be administrative in nature and have no impact on student learning. If, at some point talks stall or government does not move on key areas, that initial job action could escalate into rotating strikes. Once again, it depends on events at the negotiating table. There will be no full-scale walk out as a result of this vote. Such action would require another province-wide vote of the BCTF membership.

“Teachers voted so overwhelmingly in favour because the government has tabled unfair and unreasonable proposals that would undo the class size, class composition, and specialist teacher staffing levels we just won back in a BC Supreme Court Ruling,” said Iker. “The employer’s salary offer is also less than what was given to other public sector workers and ignores how far BC teachers have fallen behind their colleagues across Canada.”

Day of action or general strike in BC? #bced #bcpoli #bcfed #ubc #bced #yteubc

Consistently for well over a decade the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has stepped up for labour leadership, and thereby opened opportunities for every worker in the province. This has meant taking hard stands at the bargaining table, strike votes, job action, and strikes. At each moment this meant giving time and giving up wages so that other and future workers benefit. At each and every step the BC Federation of Labour (BCFED) was there with the BCTF, sitting, standing, and walking beside the teachers. This time is no different as the teachers stand up once again this week to take a strike vote against unfair labour practices.

Make no mistake, a month after a BC Supreme Court finding of the BC Liberals’ underhanded and unfair labour practices, this is a no confidence vote in the Ministers of education and labour if not the government itself. Nearly a decade since mobilizing workers into a general strike capacity in the province, it may be time once again for the BCFED to mobilize a Day of Action. More than 1993 and 1994 or 2004 and 2005, worker and student discontent in BC is boiling over. The BCTF is once again adopting a leadership role and we can expect the BCFED and workers in the province to share in this current stand against unfair labour practices.

#BCed teachers taking strike vote #bcpoli #ubced #ubc #yteubc #edstudies

BCTF, March 4, 2014–After a full year of bargaining and more than 40 sessions at the table, BC teachers have called for a strike vote to push back against major concession demands, an unfair salary offer, and a deliberately confrontational attempt to reverse the recent BC Supreme Court decision on class size, composition, and staffing levels, said BCTF President Jim Iker.

“Teachers care deeply about our schools, our students, and our communities. We don’t take a strike vote lightly,” said Iker. “However, this government seems incapable or unwilling to let the BC Public School Employers’ Association negotiate fairly with teachers. Christy Clark, her government, and BCPSEA are insisting on rollbacks, freezing wages, and ignoring the Supreme Court of British Columbia.”

Iker said he was incredibly disappointed and frustrated as teachers have worked hard this round to create a sense of calm and purpose at the bargaining table. While the last round was dominated by government acting in bad faith, this time teachers were hopeful that new players and a new framework agreement would help both parties reach a fair and reasonable deal….

On the call for today’s strike vote, BCTF President Jim Iker said: “For teachers, our only recourse in response to the unfair, unreasonable, and deliberately confrontational proposals at this point is to apply pressure through a strike vote. Such a vote, however, does not mean imminent school closures.  We will consider all job action options and timing very carefully. Our goal is to reach a negotiated deal at the bargaining table without having to resort to job action.”

Once a strike vote is taken, a union has 90 days to activate it with some sort of job action.

The BCTF strike vote will take place on March 4, 5, and 6, 2014.  Results will be announced on the evening of March 6.

Job action, if needed, will occur in stages, but any initial action will not:

  • include immediate school closures or disruption for students.
  • stop teachers from participating in extracurricular activities.
  • affect report cards or communication with parents.

Any escalation of job action will depend on progress at the negotiating table.

#BCed teachers call strike vote against unreasonable government #bcpoli #bced #yteubc #ubc #edstudies

BCTF, February 25, 2014– After a full year of bargaining and more than 40 sessions at the table, BC teachers have called for a strike vote to push back against major concession demands, an unfair salary offer, and a deliberately confrontational attempt to reverse the recent BC Supreme Court decision on class size, composition, and staffing levels, said BCTF President Jim Iker.

“Teachers care deeply about our schools, our students, and our communities. We don’t take a strike vote lightly,” said Iker. “However, this government seems incapable or unwilling to let the BC Public School Employers’ Association negotiate fairly with teachers. Christy Clark, her government, and BCPSEA are insisting on rollbacks, freezing wages, and ignoring the Supreme Court of British Columbia.”

Iker said he was incredibly disappointed and frustrated as teachers have worked hard this round to create a sense of calm and purpose at the bargaining table. While the last round was dominated by government acting in bad faith, this time teachers were hopeful that new players and a new framework agreement would help both parties reach a fair and reasonable deal.

Since January 27, when the BC Supreme Court released its ruling that found the Christy Clark government had acted in bad faith, BCPSEA has tabled unreasonable proposals:

  • New language that would yet again strip all provisions on class size, class composition, and staffing levels for teacher-librarians, counsellors, special education, and other specialist teachers.
  • A salary offer that starts with a 0.5% increase on the date of ratification. The increase is not retroactive. Because the previous contract expired last June, this means zero for all of 2013–14 school year to date. The proposal is followed by another zero for 2014–15 school year and then various ones and point fives over the next four years. The last four years of the 10-year term, an idea teachers rejected in June by a province-wide vote of 96%, features an ill-defined indexing scheme that even BCPSEA’s negotiators could not explain.

“The move to once again strip class size, composition, and staffing levels from teachers just days after the BC Supreme Court’s ruling showed total disrespect for the law, for teachers, and for students,” said Iker. “This government, through BCPSEA, is trying to pretend Justice Griffin’s ruling never happened. Their proposal to eliminate class size, class composition, and staffing levels would ‘supersede and replace all previous articles that addressed class size, composition, and staffing levels.’ For 12 years teachers have worked to defend our rights, our working conditions, and our students’ learning conditions, and once again we find ourselves facing a government focused only on confrontation.”

On the salary front, BCPSEA’s offer means BC teachers are being asked to take up to two more years of zeros after no salary increases in 2011–12 and 2012–13.

“Despite most other public sector workers receiving increases in the range of 3.5 to 4% over two years as part of the co-operative gains mandate, the government has directed BCPSEA to pursue a totally different agenda with teachers,” said Iker. “Trying to force wage freezes on teachers for another two years is not reasonable or fair, given what the government negotiated with other workers in the public sector. Teachers are asking for an increase that addresses the rising cost of living and a market adjustment that reflects how far we are behind other teachers in Canada. We believe that’s fair and reasonable.

“BC teachers cannot sit back and let Christy Clark and her government talk about labour peace in public, while trying once again to provoke teachers behind closed doors. We will do everything we can to secure a fair deal for teachers and better support for our students.”

Read More: BCTF Press release

#BCed budget 2014 empty promises #bcpoli #ubc #yteub #bced

BCTF, February 18, 2014– British Columbia’s latest budget is full of empty promises, ignores real problems, and will increase instability in BC’s public education system, BCTF First Vice-President Glen Hansman said today.

“Budget 2014 makes a lot of promises about trades, transforming education, and supporting teachers and students, but there is nothing to back those promises up,” said Hansman. “For example, there is a long list of promises around trades education and its importance to BC’s economic future. However, there is no new funding to deal with the unsafe and overcrowded shop classes we have across the province today. BC teachers used to have contract language limiting the number of students in a technology education class to 24. But since Christy Clark unconstitutionally stripped our collective agreements in 2002, class sizes have grown and become unsafe. The government’s decision to appeal the BC Supreme Court’s latest ruling shows the BC Liberals are not serious about improving learning conditions in BC schools or about their own policy initiatives.”

According to Statistics Canada, British Columbia currently funds public education $1,000 less per student than the national average. Only PEI is worse than BC, and this gap in funding continues to have serious implications for students.

“Budget 2014 is another step back for education funding and means BC kids are still being short-changed compared to other students across Canada,” said Hansman. “There is no new funding to deal with millions in rising costs downloaded onto school districts like another MSP hike and huge BC Hydro increases. That means, despite the government’s claims, more cuts to classrooms and less services to support all children, including those with special needs.

“Christy Clark’s government has claimed that there is no way to reduce class sizes, hire the needed specialist teachers, and improve class composition. However, there is a surplus and a sizable contingency fund. The government just chose not to put the funds into schools and education. After losing two rounds in BC Supreme Court, it’s time for government to respect teachers, the work we do, and properly fund BC’s education system.”

BC teachers and the BC Public School Employers’ Association have been at the bargaining table for over a year. Teachers expect the government to enable the employer to negotiate a fair deal, in good faith, that will recognize the important work that BC public school teachers do every day and put new resources into classrooms.

Read More: BCTF

Want (to not) Teach for Canada? #yteubc #bced #ubc #ubced #highered #tfc #tfa

Want (to not) Teach for Canada?

Teaching should be an Olympic Event–
There are 82 countries in the Winter Olympics but Teach for… is in just 2:
TF America
vs
TF Canada

Learn a bit more:
@SandraMathison
@eWayneRoss
@icesubc
@TobeySteeves
Tobey’s blog for critical analyses of TFC

Critical Education recently published a three part series of articles focused on Teach for America and the Future of Education in the United States

Critical Education is published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies

Blue dots symbol of resistance for First Nations #idlenomore #bced #bcpoli #yteubc

Blue dots becoming symbol for First Nations Education Act resistance

Meme meant to represent those not included or considered in current FNEA legislation

Angela Sterritt, CBC News, February 12, 2014– A “blue dot” movement has taken the Twittersphere and Facebook by storm. Photographs of Indigenous people with a blue dot on their chest are being posted on social media.

It follows what happened at a joint announcement on the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (FNEA).

The proposed legislation was announced in the Kainai First Nation on the Blood Tribe Reserve in Alberta. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt held a ceremony in the community to “seal the deal.”

Reda More: CBC News

NDP proof that Liberals provoked BC teachers’ strike #bced #bcpoli #edstudies #ubc #yteubc #ubced

CBC News, February 2014–The NDP unveiled court transcripts in the legislature during question period Wednesday it claims show the B.C. government’s chief negotiator admitting under oath the province was trying to provoke a full scale teachers’ strike.

The transcripts contain testimony made under oath during a trial that ended in a scathing ruling last month, when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin found​ the province had violated teachers’ constitutional rights in an ongoing dispute between the government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).

The documents refer to government negotiator Paul Straszak testifying under oath about a conversation he had with Premier Christy Clark’s deputy minister about the status of labour talks.

NDP leader Adrian Dix says the transcripts clearly show Straszakadmitting the government’s objective was to provoke a full scale strike.

“Contrary to the Premier’s public statements, she was clearly not telling the truth and the government was not telling the truth,” he said. “They were trying to provoke a strike and Mr Straszak acknowledges that.”

B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender is standing by the Premier.

“I’m not going to comment on his testimony because that is before the courts. What i will tell you, it has never been the intention of this government to provoke a strike.”

Last month, Griffin ordered the province to pay $2 million in damages for stripping teachers of their collective bargaining rights and failing to reinstate them when ordered by the court.

The government has since announced it will fight the settlement with an appeal in court.

Clark addressed the issue for the first time in public, just hours before the NDP revealed the transcripts, insisting her government “absolutely did not” try to provoke a teachers’ strike as suggested by the judge.

“That was the characterization that was set out. I fundamentally disagree with that. It was not correct.”

However, Clark is refusing to release the cabinet documents the judge used as evidence to make her finding.

“I took an oath of confidentiality and those oaths exist for a reason, so I don’t intend to break that oath,” said Clark.

NDP Leader Adrian Dix says that’s just not good enough.

“Actually going out as a matter of public policy and trying to provoke a school strike and they’ve been caught,” said Dix.

BCTF and government resume talks

Meanwhile bargaining between the government and the BCTF resumes Wednesday at the first meeting between the two sides since the court decision.

The negotiations were set to pick up last week, but they were postponed after the government announced it was appealing the recent B.C. Supreme Court decision.

BCTF President Jim Iker says he hopes this time the government comes to the table in good faith.

“We know that the past history, especially from the recent Justice Griffin’s decision shows that in the last round they had no intent of coming to an agreement with us,” said Iker on Wednesday.

Iker notes the facts in Griffin’s decision were not in dispute.

“They had ulterior motives, such as wanting to provoke a strike with us and shut down schools for our students.”

Read More: CBC News 

Cookie-cutter solutions for First Nations education won’t work #idlenomore #edstudies #bced #ubc

PM Stephen Harper and Chief Weasel Head

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chief Charles Weasel Head at last week’s announcement about changes to First Nation education. (Photo by Arnell Tailfeathers)

Angela Sterritt, CBC News, February 12, 2014– Twila Singer knows a thing or two about education on-reserve.

All five of her children are part of the Kainai First Nation and went to school on the Blood Tribe Reserve – in Blackfoot territory – close to Stand Off in southern Alberta. Her eldest son is now in college and her youngest is in Grade 1.

So when Singer caught wind of a community event last week, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to announce a historic education agreement between the federal government and First Nations, she put her ear to the ground.

“No one knew what was going on, we were left in the dark,” said Singer.

The release also publicized a peaceful rally outside the Kainai Nation High School, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper made his announcement related to First Nations education.

On the day of the event, Singer made the decision to go inside for the announcement.

“We just prayed and decided that it would be OK, it would be safe to go in,” she said, but she didn’t expect what unfolded once they arrived inside.

Blue dots for uninvited guests

“We were separated at the door and given either a blue dot or a yellow dot. The blue dots were uninvited guests and were ushered to the gymnasium, and the invited guests were the yellow dots and they were brought to the auditorium where the dignitaries were.”

Along with about 40 others in the gym, Singer and her daughters, aged seven and 17, viewed what was happening in the auditorium on TV monitors. At the end, the invited guests were directed to go to the gym for a feast.

That’s when Singer was kicked out – for tweeting.

“I was so confused. Everyone around me was on their phone. My baby has never experienced violence or anger, she started to cry, so I left. In all honesty I was really embarrassed.”

Then, her 17-year old daughter was asked to leave.

In a video posted online, Singer’s teen daughter, Bryn Taylor, is seen being confronted by three men, two standing in front of her, and one man at her side. The man on the side wraps his arm around her back for almost a minute, and then lifts her up by her arm.

As people behind her shout “leave her alone” and “this is what my reconciliation looks like,” two men pick her up by each arm and she hits the floor, then they pick her up and escort her out.

“Our families were in there, our people were in there, people who we love and interact with every day, and I think she was wanting somebody to say something,” said Singer.

She said the air of silence mixed with confusion captured the essence of the announcement about changes to the First Nations Education Act that day.

“We didn’t develop it, or have a referendum on it, we were left out of the loop,” she said.

Lacking consultation

The Blood Tribe and Kainai Board of Education also put out a press release on the day of the announcement that said the proposed act “has not met the Crown’s legal duty to consult and accommodate.”

The release said the “proposed legislation is being forced on the Blood Tribe and it is similar to how the government assimilated Blood children through Indian residential schools.”

But consultation is something the engineers of the proposed First Nations control of First Nations education act tout. According to the official website, the agreement is the result of “intensive consultations, discussions, dialogue and studies.”

It stated that “the first phase included eight consultation sessions across Canada, more than 30 video and teleconference sessions, and online consultation activities, was completed in May 2013.”

Arnell Tailfeathers, who was at the announcement as an invited guest in a media capacity tweeted to @CBC_Aboriginal, “Treaty 7 chiefs had a teleconference with Valcourt in Calgary. Valcourt hung up on them after he was done speaking.”

For Saddle Lake councillor Shannon Houle, the federal government’s assertion of consultation could not be further from the truth.

Read More:  CBC News

BC Liberals $$ going to court cases rather than #bced #bcpoli #ubc #ubced #yteubc

On February 4, 2014 BCTF President Jim Iker issued the following statement about the BC Government’s decision to appeal Justice Griffin’s Bills 28 and 22 ruling. Please check against delivery at http://new.livestream.com/BCTF/Feb042014 

Good morning, Today marks the one year anniversary since BC teachers started negotiations on the latest round of bargaining. The first session was February 4, 2013.

And today, we learned Premier Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender are not serious about stability in BC’s education system. By announcing their intent to appeal BC teachers’ important and historic court victory, Christy Clark’s government has shown they think they are above the law.

The government has broken the law, the constitution, twice. But, they continue to put their own political agenda before students. This government has been told five times they were wrong.

First, by teachers in 2002 when Bill 28 came in. We knew the damage it would do, but government ignored our concerns and an entire generation of students have been short-changed as a result.

In 2004, the International Labour Organization of the United Nations told the BC Liberal government they were breaking international law.

In 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled this government had acted unconstitutionally in Health Services.

In 2011, the BC Supreme Court ruled that Bill 28 was unconstitutional.

And now in 2014, the same court has said they violated the Charter twice. Christy Clark has been told time and time again that they cannot trample people’s rights, that they must respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 2

In the last round, Justice Griffin said Christy Clark’s government negotiated in bad faith.

Given their bad faith approach and the last 12 years of cuts, how can teachers trust this government? Today, with this appeal, Clark and Fassbender have shown we cannot trust them… as much I want to.

By trying to hold on to Bill 28, which illegally stripped teachers’ working conditions, Christy Clark is saying no to smaller classes, no to increased support for students with special needs, and no to extra help for all kids. It’s sad, disappointing, but entirely predictable from a government that cannot be trusted to put education before politics.

BCTF President Iker calls Liberals Minister on letter and inaccuracies #bced #bcpoli #ubced #yteubc

Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun, February 7, 2014– Education minister Peter Fassbender sent an email directly to teachers on Friday, in an attempt to explain the government’s perspective on their rocky relationship.

Teachers from across the province responded with frustration on social media, in interviews and with letters to Fassbender copied to The Vancouver Sun.

Fassbender’s email comes after the announcement Tuesday that the government intends to appeal a court case it lost to B.C. teachers last month.

In the court ruling, Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin said legislation passed in 2012 was virtually identical to a 2002 bill she had previously ruled as unconstitutional because it violated teachers’ rights to bargain class size and composition clauses. Fassbender said Tuesday that the ruling could cost as much as $1 billion to implement because it forces the province to retroactively restore class size and composition language that was removed from teachers’ contracts in 2002.

B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker said Fassbender’s letter is not historically accurate and he doesn’t think the government should be directly approaching BCTF members.

“We have a government that seems to be in denial about the decision, the facts of the decision and what their responsibility is,” Iker said. “What we should be getting from Christy Clark is an apology — to teachers, to students, to parents, to all British Columbians — for not upholding the constitution.”

Iker noted that the facts of the case were not disputed by either the BCTF or the government during the court case.

Fassbender’s letter says in 2011, “the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that government had not followed a proper process in with the BCTF in removing those sections. Government accepted that decision and spent the following year in consultation with the BCTF attempting to fix the problem.

“But last week, the court ruled that the government’s efforts fell short.”

The judge’s decision said, “The Court has concluded that the government did not negotiate in good faith with the union after the Bill 28 Decision.” Further, the judge found that the legislation introduced after the 2011 decision was “identical to that first branch of what was previously declared unconstitutional, namely, the deletion and prohibition of hundreds of collective agreement terms on working conditions.”

Fassbender’s letter said what he finds most disappointing is the judge’s characterization that government sought to provoke a strike.

Griffin based her finding that the government wanted to provoke a strike on confidential government documents, specifically notes from Paul Straszak, the former CEO of the government’s bargaining agent, the Public Sector Employers’ Council. The government has declined to release these internal documents.

Vancouver music teacher Mark Reid said that the minister has a right to disagree with Griffin’s ruling.

“You’d more easily persuade me and, in fact, all citizens of the province if you released these so-called contentious cabinet documents for public review,” Reid said in an email to Fassbender that he shared with The Sun. “The fact is that a Supreme Court Justice ruled on fact and law. Your appeal of the law is within the rights of any individual or group who have stood before the court and received its ruling. The finding of facts cannot be disputed. I sincerely hope that the choice to appeal was cemented in principle, not in pride, economics, or the policy objectives you so highly hold.”

Maple Ridge teacher Erin Smeed told The Sun that she was annoyed when she read the letter.

“I was frustrated with the inaccuracies in it, specifically implying that we didn’t have class size and composition language before provincial bargaining, which is flatly untrue. We had that language in our district,” said Smeed, who teaches English to adults in continuing education.

Fassbender’s note says: “Through several years at the bargaining table, elected school trustees consistently resisted efforts to entrench any local teacher-student ratios and formulas into the provincial contract.”

Smeed, whose parents were a teacher and a school administrator, said she feels Fassbender is trying to circumvent the proper bargaining process.

“Sit down at the table and talk to our democratically elected leadership instead of wasting time trying to talk directly to the masses,” Smeed said.

Read more: Vancouver Sun

BC teachers’ resolve unmoved as gov dumps more $ into court #bced #bced #ubc #yteubc

British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, January 27, 2014: An historic day for public education and labour rights in BC. The BC Supreme Court reaffirmed that provincial legislation limiting teachers’ bargaining rights is unconstitutional, restored collective agreement provisions stripped in 2002, and ordered the province to pay $2 million in damages plus court costs.

The Court’s Judgment indicates the depths to which the BC Liberals descended in undermining collective bargaining in the province:

  • The freedom of workers to associate has long been recognized internationally and in Canada as an important aspect of a fair and democratic society. Collective action by workers helps protect individuals from unfairness in one of the most fundamental aspects of their lives, their employment. [Summary, p.2]
  • The Court has concluded that the government did not negotiate in good faith with the union after the Bill 28 Decision. One of the problems was that the government representatives were pre-occupied by another strategy. Their strategy was to put such pressure on the union that it would provoke a strike by the union. The government representatives thought this would give government the opportunity to gain political support for imposing legislation on the union. [Summary, p. 3]
  • When legislation is struck down as unconstitutional, it means it was never valid, from the date of its enactment. This means that the legislatively deleted terms in the teachers’ collective agreement have been restored retroactively and can also be the subject of future bargaining. [Summary, p.4]
  • Collective bargaining was seen as fulfilling an important social purpose, by providing a means to promote the common well-being. Collective bargaining is a means of providing equality in the workplace, diminishing the arbitrary power of the employer and allowing workers a means to protect themselves from unfair or unsafe work conditions. [para. 46]
  • Just as it is hard to imagine a law that is otherwise an interference with a Charter right being found not to interfere because of pre-legislative consultation, it is even harder to imagine a situation where legislation is found to be unconstitutional as amounting to substantial interference with s. 2(d) rights, but then this unconstitutionality could be “cured” by the government “consulting” with the union after the fact of the legislation. This is essentially the unusual position the government takes in this case. [para. 91]
  • As a matter of principle I am of the view that it would be rare that the government could rely on its “consultation” conduct after the fact of legislation declared invalid based on its breach of a s. 2(d) Charter right, to cure the unconstitutionality of the legislation, and to then pass virtually identical legislation. Such a process would encourage state actors to ignore s. 2(d) rights with impunity as there would be no practical consequences for a breach. [para. 92]
  • But since the government insisted on starting from an extreme position, linking the two aspects of the unconstitutional legislation together, and insisting that all that was needed to fix the unconstitutional legislation was government consultation, the BCTF response position was rather predictable. If one side starts from an extreme position, it should not be surprised if the other side does not immediately compromise all that is important to it. [para. 356]
  • From before collective bargaining began in 2011, the government expected that the round of collective bargaining would likely fail to result in an agreement between the BCTF and BCPSEA. This is because the collective bargaining mandates government had issued to BCPSEA, combined with a continued prohibition on negotiation Working Conditions, were predicted by the government to be so unacceptable to the BCTF.[para. 380] The government thus expected from even before collective bargaining began in March 2011 that it would lead to the BCTF calling a strike. [para. 381]
  • The government saw that the failure of the two negotiating tables could be a useful political opportunity for it. As early as June 2011, the government was considering a strategy of a combined legislative response to an expected teachers’ strike and to Bill 28. [para. 383]
  • The government thought that a teachers strike would give the government a political advantage in imposing legislation that the public might otherwise not support. It felt that the timing of legislation to deal with a teachers strike and failure of collective bargaining could fit conveniently with the timing of legislation to address the Bill 28 Decision repercussions. The government planned its strategy accordingly so that it could have one legislative initiative at the end of the one year suspension granted in the Bill 28 Decision.[para. 384]
  • Rather than taking full strike action, instead the teachers withdrew some administrative, non-essential services, such as preparing report cards. Teachers continued to provide all teaching and classroom services. [para. 385]. When a full strike did not materialize, so important was a strike to the government strategy that in September 2011, Mr. Straszak planned a government strategy of increasing the pressure on the union so as to provoke a strike. [para. 386]

Academic job market decimated, crashing #highered #edstudies #criticaled #caut #aaup #bced #bcpoli

Oftentimes, the academic job market for full-time (FT) faculty is inversely related to economic recessions. Not anymore. In this prolonged Great Recession, turned Great Depression II in parts of North America and across the world, youth have been particularly hard hit, more pronounced by race. The most common description for this current economy for youth is “a precipitous decline in employment and a corresponding increase in unemployment.” In Canada and the US, unemployment rates for the 16-19 year olds exceed 25%. At the same time, one of the most common descriptions for postsecondary enrollment and participation in Canada and the US is “tremendous growth at the undergraduate level… the number of graduate students has grown significantly faster than the number of undergraduate students over the last 30 years.” With “school-to-work” and “youth employment” oxymoronic, corporate academia and the education industry are capitalizing on masses of students returning to desperately secure advanced credentials in hard times, but no longer does this matter to the professoriate.

If higher education enrollment has been significant, increases in online or e-learning enrollment have been phenomenal. Postsecondary institutions in North America commonly realized 100% increases in online course enrollment from the early 2000s to the present with the percentage of total registrations increasing to 25% for some universities. In Canada, this translates to about 250,000 postsecondary students currently taking online courses but has not translated into FT faculty appointments. More pointedly, it has eroded the FT faculty job market and fueled the part-time (PT) job economy of higher education. About 50% of all faculty in North America are PT but this seems to jump to about 85%-90% for those teaching online courses. For example, in the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Master of Educational Technology (MET), where there are nearly 1,000 registrations per year, 85% of all sections are taught by PT faculty. In its decade of existence, not a single FT faculty member has been hired for this revenue generating program. Mirroring trends across North America, support staff doubling as adjunct or sessional teach about 45% of MET courses in addition to their 8:30-4:30 job functions in the service units. These indicators are of a larger scope of trends in the automation of intellectual work.

Given these practices across Canada, in the field of Education for example, there has been a precipitous decline in employment of FT faculty, which corresponds with the precipitous decline in employment of youth (Figure 1). Education is fairly reflective of the overall academic job market for doctorates in Canada. Except for short-term trends in certain disciplines, the market for PhDs is bleak. Trends and an expansion of the Great Recession predict that the market will worsen for graduates looking for FT academic jobs in all disciplines. A postdoctoral appointment market is very unlikely to materialize at any scale to offset trends. For instance, Education at UBC currently employs just a handful (i.e., 4-5) of postdocs.

To put it in mild, simple terms: Universities changed their priorities and values by devaluing academic budget lines. Now in inverse relationship to the increases in revenue realized by universities through the 2000s, academic budgets were progressively reduced from 40% or more to just around 20% for many of these institutions. One indicator of this trend is the expansion of adjunct labor or PT academics. In some colleges or faculties, such as Education at UBC, the number of PT faculty, which approached twice that of FT in 2008, teach from 33% to 85% of all sections, depending on the program.

Another indicator is the displacement of tenure track research faculty by non-tenure track, teaching-intensive positions. For example, in Education at UBC, about 18 of the last 25 FT faculty hires were for non-tenure track teaching-intensive positions (i.e., 10 courses per year for Instructor, Lecturer, etc.). This was partially to offset a trend of PT faculty hires pushing Education well over its faculty salary budget (e.g., 240 PT appointments in 2008). Measures in North America have been so draconian that the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) was compelled to report in 2010 that “the tenure system has all but collapsed…. the proportion of teaching-intensive to research-intensive appointments has risen sharply. However, the majority of teaching-intensive positions have been shunted outside of the tenure system.” What is faculty governance, other than an oligarchy, with a handful of faculty governing or to govern?

Read More: Petrina, S. & Ross, E. W. (2014). Critical University Studies: Workplace, Milestones, Crossroads, Respect, TruthWorkplace, 23, 62-71.

Equity, Governance, Economics and Critical University Studies #criticaled #edstudies #ubc #ubced #bced #yteubc

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
Equity, Governance, Economics and Critical University Studies
No 23 (2014)

As we state in our Commentary, “This Issue marks a couple of milestones and crossroads for Workplace. We are celebrating fifteen years of dynamic, insightful, if not inciting, critical university studies (CUS). Perhaps more than anything, and perhaps closer to the ground than any CUS publication of this era, Workplace documents changes, crossroads, and the hard won struggles to maintain academic dignity, freedom, justice, and integrity in this volatile occupation we call higher education.” Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies (ICES).

Commentary

  • Critical University Studies: Workplace, Milestones, Crossroads, Respect, Truth
    • Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross

Articles

  • Differences in Black Faculty Rank in 4-Year Texas Public Universities: A Multi-Year Analysis
    • Brandolyn E Jones & John R Slate
  • Academic Work Revised: From Dichotomies to a Typology
    • Elias Pekkola
  • No Free Set of Steak Knives: One Long, Unfinished Struggle to Build Education College Faculty Governance
    • Ishmael Munene & Guy B Senese
  • Year One as an Education Activist
    • Shaun Johnson
  • Rethinking Economics Education: Challenges and Opportunities
    • Sandra Ximena Delgado-Betancourth
  • Review of Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think
    • C. A. Bowers

to blog or not to blog?

The International Studies Association (political science folks) is discussing a proposal to ban Association journal editors, editorial board members and anyone associated with its journals from blogging. Here is the language:

“No editor of any ISA journal or member of any editorial team of an ISA journal can create or actively manage a blog unless it is an official blog of the editor’s journal or the editorial team’s journal,” the proposal reads. “This policy requires that all editors and members of editorial teams to apply this aspect of the Code of Conduct to their ISA journal commitments. All editorial members, both the Editor in Chief(s) and the board of editors/editorial teams, should maintain a complete separation of their journal responsibilities and their blog associations.”

Singling out blogs, but no other social media or letters to the editor or op eds, the ISA asserts that blogging is some how unseemly, that it is a kind of discourse that is not proper professional behavior, and that if one blogs one is likely to sink into some abyss losing a grasp on one’s dignity and respectability.

At best this proposal is quaint, a desire for a past when professors stayed in their offices and wrote for and engaged with their peers through narrow publication channels (like the ISA journals). At worst, this is a draconian effort to challenge academic freedom, to squelch professors’ engagement in public life, and to control access to knowledge. The silliness of this proposal does little to obviate its threat to civic engagement of scholars, both the activist minded and those who understand the world is bigger than the university campus.

Nelson Mandela | Pete Seeger | champions and guardians of education

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013 | 1919-2014 Pete Seeger

Champions and Guardians of Education

Thank you

BC schools class composition worse than ever #bced #bcpoli #ubc #yteubc #edstudies

BCTF New Release, January 8, 2014– Data on BC’s education system released by the government shows our province’s class composition is worse than ever before, said BCTF President Jim Iker. There are over 16,000 classes with four or more children with special needs.

“BC teachers fully support including all students, like those with special needs, in our classrooms, but 12 years of cutbacks have meant those kids are not getting the support they need,” said Iker. “Ever since the BC Liberal government stripped our collective agreement in 2002, learning conditions for all students have deteriorated. We see the results today because more teachers than ever before are dealing with overly complex classrooms without the support of specialist teachers to support students.”

The data released by the Ministry of Education shows there are 16,163 classes with four or more students with special needs. That represents one in four of all classes in BC. In addition, a staggering 3,875 classes have seven or more children with special needs in them. The data also highlights concerns with the support available for English Language Learners (ELL) formerly known as ESL in BC. There are 4,636 classes with seven or more English Language Learners (ELL). Within that total are 1,956 Kindergarten to Grade 3 classes with seven or more English Language Learners.

“Class composition is one of the most important aspects in education,” said Iker. “An overly complex class puts immense pressure on the teacher to meet the needs of all students. As teachers, we fully support and embrace diversity in learning styles and needs in our classrooms, but we can only do so much without extra support before students lose out.”

Iker also pointed out that the worsening of class composition year-over-year has coincided with dramatic cuts to learning specialist teachers. For example, since 2002 BC has lost approximately 700 special education teachers and over 300 English Language Learner teachers. Furthermore, BC has the worst student-educator ratio in Canada and funds education $1,000 less per student than the national average.

“BC teachers are among the best in the world, but this government is making it harder for them to do their jobs and harder for students to get the education they deserve,” said Iker. “It’s time for government to step up, correct their past mistakes, and address BC’s worsening class composition.”

Click here to view the Class composition chart.

Generation of BC students short-changed by government #bced #bcpoli #ubc #yteubc #edstudies

BCTF News Release, January 27, 2014– Marking the 12th anniversary of Bill 28, the unconstitutional legislation that stripped teachers’ collective agreements, BCTF President Jim Iker said the result is that a generation of students in BC have been short-changed.

“Children who were in Kindergarten in 2002 when government illegally stripped class-size and class-composition language from our collective agreements are now in Grade 12,” said Iker. “The result is those students, an entire generation of BC kids, have spent their whole K–12 education in larger classes with less one-on-one-time and less support from specialist teachers like counsellors and special education teachers.”

Iker explained that stripping teachers’ working conditions from collective agreements actually enabled the government to underfund education, which has led to the deterioration of students’ learning conditions.

“It is because of the support of parents and the hard work of teachers, who are doing more with less, that BC’s public education system is still as strong as it is,” said Iker. “But more and more teachers are telling me that further cutbacks, or even the status quo, are unsustainable.”

Due to the government’s illegal actions in 2002 and subsequent underfunding, BC has fallen behind the rest of Canada in support for public education.

  • BC is last on seven key measures of education funding in Canada.
  • BC is second worst in terms of per-student funding at $1,000 less than the national average. Only PEI is doing worse.
  • BC has the country’s worst student-educator ratio. That means there are more students per educator than anywhere else in Canada.
  • There are over 16,000 classes, 25% of BC’s total, with four or more children with special needs in them. That is a staggering 70% since 2006. It means all kids are getting less one-on-one time with their teachers. And, it means kids who need extra help aren’t getting it.
  • BC has lost 1,400 specialist teachers since 2002 even as the need for their services has gone up significantly. Close to 700 special education teachers, over 100 counsellors, and 300 teacher-librarians have all been cut from the system.

“After 12 years, with 2002’s Kindergarten class now graduating, it’s time to recognize that government has not lived up to British Columbians’ expectations,” said Iker. “It’s unacceptable that BC is the second worst in Canada on per-student funding and has the worst student-educator ratio. It’s time to end the cuts and begin to bring BC’s education funding up to at least the national average. That will give teachers and students the resources they need to make our public education system even better.”

 Background

BC Teachers win collective bargaining rights case, $2 million in damages #bced #bcpoli #ubcte #yteubc #criticaled

British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, January 27, 2014– Teachers across BC are celebrating today’s ruling by the BC Supreme Court, reaffirming that provincial legislation limiting teachers’ bargaining rights is unconstitutional, restoring collective agreement provisions stripped in 2002, and ordering the province to pay $2 million in damages plus court costs.

“I’m very happy today,” said BCTF President Jim Iker. “This is the end of a long and costly legal battle for the teachers of BC. It’s a great day for democracy, and for all working people across BC and Canada.”

Iker noted that the legislation was already declared unconstitutional in 2011, and the judge gave government one year to rectify the situation. However, government simply reintroduced the same unconstitutional provisions.

By removing class-size limits and class-composition guarantees, the government did significant damage to learning conditions in schools across the province.

“Children who were in Kindergarten when those bills were passed are now in Grade 12, and have spent their entire school careers in larger classes with fewer resources,” he said.  “For the past 12 years, thousands of children couldn’t get the services they needed because government broke the law.”

The legislation removed provisions that guaranteed smaller classes, support for students with special needs, and services from teacher-librarians, counsellors, and other specialists. Government then cut hundreds of millions of dollars a year from public education budgets, forcing school boards to cut programs and close more than 200 public schools. More than 3,500 teaching positions, including 1,500 specialist teachers, were also cut.

“If government had respected the Charter, teachers would not have had to spend the past dozen years fighting for our rights,” Iker said. “Now we expect that government will do everything necessary to demonstrate respect for the court’s ruling and make the situation right. Restore our smaller classes, rehire our specialist colleagues, and help us rebuild the excellent public education system that British Columbians expect for their children.”

Download full BC Supreme Court

Background

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