Court rules teachers have right to grieve but still not to negotiate

Grievances have not been addressed in the past. Will court ruling change anything on the ground? IMHO unlikely.

BC Teachers(BCTF) are harassed as being an evil monopoly but I hear little about this when the government unilaterally ripped valid binding contracts, or implements impactful policy with essentially no public discourse, no legislative debate and certainly no collective bargaining. Public service used to be honoured. Now it is viewed by so many as some kind of servitude. They should get what they get- period. This is a shortsighted view.

There is a historical and social reasons why public institution workers had collective bargaining. Private employees have a chance to negotiate their working conditions and compensation.  Attracting and keeping skilled professional and motivated teachers in BC is already very very hard. The eventual and gradual erosion of another institution that serves BC well to our students will occur if the conditions that made public school in BC strong are not re-addressed.  I do not want to see BC go the way of California or Wisconsin. Wide open ‘choice’ and privatization ( BC taxpayers already subsidize $217mil for independent schools ) will not ensure a better social policy or eduation achievement.

The wave of union bashing is sure to be a sunami now that Premier Clark is leading a government into another season with the government imposed expired teachers contract.

Court rules teachers have right to grieve changes to working and learning conditions

Teachers are applauding a decision by the BC Court of Appeal that requires principals and superintendents to ensure that any oversize classes are appropriate for student learning throughout the school year, not just on a particular day at the beginning of the year.

“This is an extremely important decision because it means that the legal obligation to ensure a class is appropriate for student learning continues beyond September 30,” said BCTF President Susan Lambert. “Principals and superintendents must reconsider their determination of appropriateness if the classroom conditions change, or if promised resources or assistance are not provided or are withdrawn during the school year.”

Since 2002, when the BC Liberals stripped class-size and composition language from the teachers’ collective agreements, thousands of teachers have filed grievances in an effort to ensure the teaching and learning conditions in their classrooms are workable. About 15,000 outstanding grievances for 2006–11 remain unresolved.

This case began in 2009, when a teacher in Alberni filed a grievance regarding her Grade 5 class, which had more than the legally allowed number of students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs). Recognizing that the class was not appropriate for student learning, the teacher was provided with an integration support aide. However, the frequent and prolonged absence of the aide made providing appropriate education much more difficult and breached a promise made at the beginning of the school year.

“We’re gratified that the Court of Appeal has upheld our position that teachers have the right to grieve unacceptable class-size and composition, and that appropriate learning conditions must be upheld throughout the school year,” said Lambert. “We are determined to restore these stripped provisions because we know that contractual guarantees are the best way to ensure that students’ needs can be met in classes that are manageable. Both teachers and the public expect changes.”

BCTF public opinion research released last week shows strong public support for restoring contractual language to limit class sizes. Nine out of ten British Columbians believe it is important that BC teachers have a contract that protects learning conditions, and 84% believe that restoration of the right to negotiate learning and working conditions is important. In addition, 70% believe funding for public schools is too low.

Grants include:

Operating Grant (Independent Schools Act (ISA), section 12)
This is the primary grant given to Group 1 and 2 independent schools. The grant is determined by the number of FTE equivalent and partially eligible students enrolled in the school. It is to be used solely for operational expenditures. Distributed Learning (DL) Schools receive operating grants in accordance with their group classification and only with a signed agreement with the Minister.

Special Purpose Grant (ISA, section 13)
From time to time the Minister of Education may issue Special Purpose Grants. When the grant is available to all school districts for operational expenditures, Group 1 and 2 independent schools will be included at their respective percentages.( BCgov)

“..School trustees from across the province are calling on the B.C. Liberal government to take the funding it gives to private schools and put it into the public school system.Today (April 24), at the B.C. School Trustees Association’s annual general meeting in Victoria, trustees voted to “request the Ministry of Education to redirect to the public education system the public money spent on independent schools, other than band schools“. The Cowichan Valley school board had submitted the motion. For the 2008-09 school year, the B.C. government provided $217 million in operating grants to independent schools, according to an overview on the ministry’s Web site. ( Straight)

“..Ms. Clark, as education minister, made “history in 2003 when she attended the 25th Annual Catholic Educators’ Conference organized by the Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese. Clark was the first education minister to visit the conference since its inception in 1978, they ear after independent schools first received funding from the provincial government. At the event she recognized the quality of Catholic schools and pledged her support of independent schools.” (Public Eye)

Dawn comments,

” In a 21st century secular society, I’m quite sure I’m not the only taxpayer appalled at the thought of scarce tax dollars being diverted to subsidize the brainwashing of children by any religious group or private schools that exist to serve private interests. It might be tolerable if taxpayers were volunteering to pay extra to do this, but this funding has been taken directly from the public education budget, forcing the closure of local public schools in communities from North Van to Prince George and the gutting of vital support programs — cuts that are directly linked to the failure of thousands of vulnerable kids — students with autism, Aboriginal kids, inner city kids growing up in poverty, etc., etc. (all of which will cost the weary taxpayer far more in the long run. I totally respect people’s freedom to make private choices, but when did the taxpayer become liable for supporting those private personal choices and/or private enterprises? So if I prefer to send my mail by Fedex instead of Canada Post, to work out in a private club instead of the local community centre, or to buy a condo instead of applying for social housing, I should expect BC taxpayers to subsidise those choices too?” (Public Eye)



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