Defending teachers’ professionalism

Comparisons can be made between teachers and other professionals

Re: Fine line between teachers as professionals or labourers (Letters, March 7)

I, too, taught in the 1970s and then retired in 2011. The 70s were in another century in every sense of the word. If anyone thinks they know what is happening in the classrooms today from their experience back in the day, they are deluding themselves.

The educational landscape is extremely demanding (downloading of responsibilities: counselling students in crisis, endless paperwork, many after-school and evening events) and infinitely more complex.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation supports professional development. Union fees are used to provide many opportunities for teachers to improve and refine their skills. The BCTF supports teacher autonomy to self-select the focus of their professional development, just as doctors, lawyers, dentists, nurses or accountants do.

B.C. teachers’ salaries increased 12 per cent (four years at 2.5 per cent and two per cent last year) over the past five years.

This was the result of a mediated settlement between the teachers and the government, facilitated by Vince Reddy in 2005. This kept teachers’ salaries in line with inflation.

The public education system has deteriorated significantly during the past 10 years. Approximately $300 million per year has been removed from funding for special education students.

The largest corporations no longer pay a 16.5 per cent taxation rate, as they did in 2001, but rather 10 per cent. Who else gets this preferred tax rate?

Deputy Minister of Education James Gorman made $164,085 in 2006 and $228,942 in 2011, a 40 per cent increase, while his expenses over this five-year period totalled $136,616.

Let’s not have the middle class attack the middle class.

Finally, Bill 22 removes all limits of special education students in classrooms. This decision was made in complete contravention to the professional opinion of teachers. I am deeply troubled by this and so should be the parents of all students.

Deborah Nohr, trustee

Greater Victoria School District