Our Education, Our Future sign now

Are you a struggling Grade 12 student whoЇs been having a hard time keeping up with the normal progress while the teachers are out of school, so that u can finish the curriculum on time and not fail the provincial exams?

Are you a frustrated high school athlete in British Columbia whose practices and games have been cancelled indefinitely because of the ongoing strike?

Are you an infuriated and aggrieved teacher whoЇs least willing to see a job action occurring, but have no choice except to take a stand for a future quality education for your students?

Are you a concerned parent who cannot sufficiently attend to your childrenЇs needs, now that they are out of school and you still have to work as usual?

Better yet, are you a British Columbian (or a Canadian citizen) whoЇs tired of the bitter lies and broken promises of the BC government led by Premier Gordon Campbell?

If you fall under any of the aforementioned categories, youЇve hit the right place. Since the Liberals came into power in 2001, several unprecedented annual cut-backs in educational funding have resulted in 113 neighbourhood schools closed down, 14 000 students displaced, and 2 500 teaching positions lost, according to BC TeachersЇ Federation (BCTF). Not only a majority of the students have been the victim of bigger class sizes and limited teaching resources, but also ЁC and especially ЁC those students with special needs have significantly suffered from the loss of special education specialists. A period of less than 4 years saw the gradual elimination of the collective bargaining rights of our dedicated teachers gradually under the designation of education as an essential service ЁC an action that took away their rights to negotiate salary increase and working conditions.

A little more than 2 weeks ago, 88.4\% of the Lower Mainland teachers voted for an imminent job action, originally consisting of Phase 1, withdrawal from supervisory duties for the first 2 weeks; Phase 2, rotating strikes in BC school districts for the following 2 weeks; and Phase 3, (only if the atrocious dispute is still not settled) a full-scale strike across the province. However, barely 3 days before the end of Phase 1, the introduction of Bill 12 ЁC a legislature that imposed a 2-year contract with no salary raise nor improvement in working conditions on the teachers. Teachers were greatly outraged and an emergency meeting was called on Wednesday, Oct 05, 2005, where 90.5\% of the teachers in attendance voted in favor of a strike. The following day, students were asked to stay home from Friday, Oct 07, 2005 on until a solution emerges. On Sunday, Oct 10, 2005, the BC Supreme Court declared the strike illegal and found the teachers guilty of contempt of court, a charge threatening fine and potentially arrest of individual teachers.

Now it all comes down to one question: are teachers doing the right thing? Premier Gordon Campbell has pointed out that the teachers are being bad examples for disobeying the law. Madam Justice Brenda Brown has also made it clear that The issue before me is not whether the legislation is appropriate, or whether the teachers' position is correct. However, it is a common belief for those with a conscience that the teachers are allowed to exercise their limited rights to stand up for their students unconditionally, when the latter either lack the awareness about this issue or the courage to speak up, and that they have no intention whatsoever to contempt the court when challenging the mistreatment faced. And how dare Gordon Campbell accuses the teachers of breaking the law when he himself has been caught drunk-driving in Hawaii TWICE!!!

So the answer to the hithertofore asked questions is: yes, teachers ARE doing the right thing. Quoting a teacher from a local school, No teacher wants to strike. But us, the students, do not blame, and indeed are more than grateful of, the teachers for what theyЇve done. TheyЇve been pushed to the wall, by a provincial government who makes education a non-priority for the prominent posterity of the taxpayers.

LetЇs all be IN FRONT OF ЁC not BEHIND ЁC our teachers in the battle against injustice. It is time to claim our education, to claim our future.

We, the undersigned, urge the BC government to repeal Bill 12 and other relevant legislatures, and that it assumes the leadership role in bridging the gap of opinions and compromising, and paving the way out of the impasse through peaceful negotiations. We also would like to warn that further steps taken to violently force the teachers back to work will only intensify the current deadlock and render BC education a Petri dish to culture future havocs.

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Tom NortonBy:
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Government of British Columbia

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