Reluctantly, I will be voting yes, but yes nonetheless.

Tomorrow our union votes.  This may be the most important union vote I have taken in my 10 year career, and is most definitely the most difficult.  Voting to stand up for fully funded public education and lose many weeks of pay was easy. This is hard.  Through marathon bargaining session the BCTF and BCPSEA (i.e. BC Liberals) came to tentative agreement.  But does it give teachers and students what they deserve? Not even close. Does it really address the issues that we went out for? Hardly. Most of what it does is prevent further cuts to the system. Yet with a government that seems intent on dismantling public education, not losing might just be winning.

Being realistic, I think this is the best we were going to do.  All the stars eventually aligned and we had the best mediator in the business, tremendous public support, moral and financial support from unions across the country and internationally, pressure from international students and a Premier that needed to save face after causing this mess–before she leaves on a trade mission to India.

There are many reasons to vote no (http://goo.gl/GDAq6h, http://goo.gl/ccsh7n, http://goo.gl/a5BkYr), but then what? What’s the plan to move forward? Will the stars stay aligned? I doubt it.  Voting no will alienate the parents who have stood by teachers throughout this. They are the basis for public support.  Vince Ready is gone.  Finances can only hold out so long.  Union leadership will come into question.

There are also many reasons to vote yes, (http://goo.gl/qSwlVZ, http://goo.gl/TL6Pzt) and I think we need to look long term here.  We have brought the issues of class size and composition to the forefront.  More people than ever before are beginning to understand the complexity of teaching and the environments we do it in, and they are supportive of making public education better.  By voting yes we can leverage that support for continued positive change.  We can activate apathetic voters for bigger change. We can keep education a key public policy.  In the short term, we can get kids back into classes to learn.  We can do what we are passionate about, and collect a modest paycheque while doing so.

Reluctantly, I will be voting yes, but yes nonetheless.  I encourage my colleagues to do so as well.

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4 thoughts on “Reluctantly, I will be voting yes, but yes nonetheless.

  1. I am a parent of three elementary school kids and I will stand by teachers regardless of the choice they make. I believe we parents and other concerned people are going to have to stand up and make ourselves heard in the next wave of government edicts with regards to class size and composition, whether the teachers stay out or not. Organising will be like herding cats, I fear, but parents cover a lot of potential for making a real mark in the economy: management and workers, unionized people and non.

    I worry deeply about the bitterness that I’ve watched grow in schools over the years. I am sure that the best teachers probably feel quite bruised and battered by the process of being marginalized (like health care workers and others) and chronically underfunded in times that are not recession.

    But I know. A legislated back to school is no better than this.

    So I stand beside teachers, whatever the choice may be tomorrow.

    • Thank you for your enduring support, Karen. Yes, it is very frustrating being continually marginalized and disrespected by government but you’re right; parents will need to mobilize to really change the system. Teachers can only do so much without being accused of just being in it for the money, but together I can imagine significant change for the better.

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