Putting children first means supporting the teachers

A hundred North Vancouver elementary school parents are patting themselves on the back today because they volunteered to ensure an end-of-year track meet took place at Swangard Stadium.


Normally run by teachers, the event almost didn’t happen today due to rotating strikes across the province.

While this track meet could have been rescheduled, the school district opted to cancel it outright, making it look like striking teachers were big mean villains who didn’t want students to enjoy a day of athleticism for which they’d trained for months.

In an interview with the CBC, parent Mathew Young, who rounding up volunteers for the event, said, “We're not here to make a political statement at all. We're here to say it's unacceptable to us as parents that the kids are not being put first."

If this is really about putting kids first, like Young said, every single parent in this province should be supporting the teachers 100 percent.

A parent stepped up and found a solution to the problem, and it was a lot of work, right?

Now think about it from a teacher’s perspective: they do this all year long. Hours upon hours are spent coaching sports teams, providing school trips, marking your child’s homework, drafting lesson plans, supervising recess, running track meets, conducting after-class music programs, ensuring school plays takes place, et cetera, ad nauseum.

And they do this for free.

If parents want to put kids first, they wouldn’t be blaming the teachers for striking.

No, they would be joining them on the picket lines—and they would be demanding that Premier Christy Clark give the teachers a fair wage increase as well as increasing education funding in general.

The 2014/2015 budget froze K-12 spending for three years, while last year’s budget only increased education funding by $22 million—which was a whole .44 percent of the province’s $5 billion budget.

To be clear: I’m not a parent. I am not a student. I graduated from high school 15 years ago, so it’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with the day to day experience of public education.

However, I started elementary school in 1987—the same year that B.C. teachers gained the right to strike and full collective bargaining abilities. There were 48 strikes in B.C. between then and 1994, which was the year the NDP government imposed provincial bargaining legislation on teachers. By the time I graduated high school in 1999, I had been through so many teachers’ strikes I couldn’t count them all.

Through all that, my teachers worked hard to make sure their students had a positive educational experience and graduated on time, even when class sizes were growing and wages were frozen.

Teachers are moulding a new generation of people—your children. Why wouldn’t you want the absolute best possible education for your kids? Don’t you care about them? So, why wouldn’t you want teachers paid a reasonable wage for the hours they work?

Students from Rockridge secondary in West Vancouver stand in solidarity with teachers.

You know what else teachers are? Free childcare so you can go to work. If you don’t want teachers to make more money, why aren’t you lobbying the provincial government for universal daycare?

Yes, there are problems, and not every teacher is a saint. It can be difficult to get rid of problematic teachers. But do you think that if maybe you compensated teachers better, you would attract better quality candidates? Did you ever consider that highly educated people don’t want to work for shit pay and contribute unpaid hours on top of that? And do you suppose that maybe if class sizes were a little smaller, teachers wouldn’t be so burnt out?

Let’s be clear: the average minimum salary for a B.C. teacher is $48,000, while the average maximum salary is $74,000. That works out to $23 to $35 an hour—provided a teacher only works 40 hours a week. If they work even 20 more hours a week than that, that turns into $15 to $23 an hour before taxes.

Teachers are not getting fat off the provincial teat. They are getting by just like the rest of us in this province.

According to Stats Canada, B.C. spends less than $12,000 per student per year. Maybe if education was funded the way it needs to be, adequate numbers of teachers and support staff could be hired, which would lead to healthier, happier teachers, staff members, and students.

Why aren’t you mad at your MLA? Why not stop calling teachers lazy and hold your elected officials accountable? When you have to take a day off work because you can’t find childcare (because, hey, B.C. doesn’t have a universal childcare program), you should march them down to your MLA’s office and ask them to baby sit. An MLA’s base salary is $101,859. Why aren’t you mad about that?

Christy Clark—who makes over $193,000 a year—and her government are bullying teachers and they are bullying you. By locking teachers out from their workplaces, the government is the one that is causing your scheduling headaches, sporting event cancellations, and inconveniencing students.

It’s great that the 100 parents from North Vancouver found enough community spirit to come through for their children today, but what about the other 364 days of the year? Why do parents let these sorts of events fall solely on the shoulders of these damn lazy teachers you keep moaning about?

In 2001, the B.C. Liberal government declared teachers to be an essential service, but nothing the government has done since then reflects that classification. If teachers are essential to the operation of the province, treat them as such.

Support the teachers. Right now, they’re the only ones putting your children first.

Comments (69) Add New Comment
Thank you!!!
Rating: -16
"If this is really about putting kids first, like Young said, every single parent in this province should be supporting the teachers 100 percent."

As a parent who volunteers many, many hours every year, I find this statement to be pretty offensive. If I don't support teachers 100%, I'm not putting kids first?

It's fine if you think the teachers deserve your complete support, but for you to diminish the efforts of others because they don't see things the same way as you seems pretty narrow-minded. Some of your points are good, and I agree that the fantastic teachers in this province need more support from government. But that doesn't mean we can't at the same time find some fault on the BCTF side of things for the constant disruption to classrooms.

It's pretty disappointing that you've taken a great effort on the part of a lot of parents and tried to turn it into a negative.
Rating: +8
"Let’s be clear: the average minimum salary for a B.C. teacher is $48,000, while the average maximum salary is $74,000. That works out to $23 to $35 an hour—provided a teacher only works 40 hours a wee."

How many weeks per year does a teacher actually work? It appears your math is based on working 40 hours a week for 52 weeks per year.

Teachers have job security, benefits, pensions, and from what I can tell a decent amount of time off. Those things also have value.

What I find interesting is that I was in school long before they started diagnosing kids with ADD and handing out all kinds labels to children who are "problematic" or "struggling" in school. Maybe some of them are simply uninterested? I know I was at times and my grades suffered at times. My point is, somehow my graduating class got through school in classes with 25-30 kids with all our undiagnosed issues and most of us succeeded in life. I use the term success very broadly...decent hard working members of society.

On the subject of fair pay, and I realize the issue is more complex than this, this is (PARTLY) how this taxpayer without kids hears teachers demands:

1) Smaller class sizes (less work).
2) Different class composition (less work).
3) More money (for less work - points 1 and 2).

Again, that is PARTLY how I hear their demands. So, before anyone jumps all over me and assumes I don't understand the issues entirely let me be the first to say you're partly correct..partly. Regardless, I can't afford to give the education system more of my personal pay in the form of tax.

Healthcare has needs, public infrastructure has needs, police, fire, and so on...AND I HAVE NEEDS! I don't know what a fair wage for a teacher is, but I do know that cannot afford to pay more taxes. If education costs go up, healthcare costs go up, and everything else keeps going up more tax is what I will be paying.

Consequently, I am not in favour.

Rating: -30
Miranda, it's unfortunate that you missed so many Math classes because of BCTF strikes. But surely you realize that teachers work 38 weeks a year, not the 53 that your calculation suggests! So a typical $74,000 salary works out to $49 per hour for the teachers who work 40 hours a week. But wait, you repeat their claim that much of what they do is 'volunteer'! So let's make their official work week 30 hours, which gives them an hourly rate of $65.
Don't forget that what they held out for last time was the right to teach even if not competent. That's what you call 'putting the children first'!
Rating: -21
Martin Dunphy

A $74,000 salary for a teacher is not "typical". It is the maximum--as Miranda stated in the article above.
Back to math class with you (or remedial reading).
Rating: +5
As much as I'm not a Liberal fan, I don't think you can place the blame for today's education system solely on them. As you pointed out Miranda, there were numerous strikes under both the So-creds and NDP.

As far as teachers deserving more money, well, maybe when their bar is set a little higher. The majority of those pursuing teaching degrees are "C" students who fail to grapple their own subject area without a textbook in hand. Consider what an entry level reporter makes- that's at least as much education as a teacher. $30,000-$35,000. Or if you work at CKNW, $12/hr. Teachers' salaries are quite generous when you start comparing them to other industries.
Rating: -8
Sticky, whenever anyone talks about wages, benefits, pensions, etc. are not part of the calculation. Politicians, ferry workers, nurses, postal workers, et al. are contribute to pension programs & we don't hear some members of the public trot out that tired argument. As to your point about teachers doing "just fine" when you were in school, I can tell you because of my age and my job as one who is a specialist in working with learning disabled kids that it's a different world now. To compare classrooms in the 21st century to those of the 60s, 70s, and 80s is like comparing apples & oranges. Have you stepped in an average elementary, middle, or high school in the last 10 years? It's as vastly different as the t.v. programs we see now: Happy Days & Good Times it ain't for a good number of students. Teaching today means having to deal with many children whose behaviour and congenital learning problems are the product of family & societal dysfunction. Any serious discussion of teaching today cannot ignore this factor.
Rating: +22
Teachers get a failing grade.
Rating: -39
Curious, that teachers work 52 weeks per year, according to your calculations. I always thought that teachers get public and summer holidays amounting to almost 3 months each year free from work, yet still make a minimum of $48,000 per year. By this calculation the minimum salary starts at almost $31 per hour, while the top salary is a bit over $47 per hour, for a 40 hour work week.

Compare this to other professions, such as new PhDs that earn an average of $21 per hour in academia, where they might be researching new medical applications or important health conditions.

And I also thought that teachers only make the minimum salary during their first year, after which it increases every year for 12 years based on seniority.

I'm all for teachers having smaller class sizes and less extra-curricular commitments, but the salaries are quite reasonable, and have kept up with inflation better than most other professions.
Rating: +6
Look at the Collective Agreement, not spin
The Collective agreement specifies 184 days/yr. Most people work 250 days/yr. The CA specifies a 30 hr week, of which only 20 are spent in direct classroom instruction. The article notes AVERAGE salaries. Teachers work half as much and are paid twice as much as the average BC taxpayer. Raises must be accompanied by increased productivity, but the union demands amount to feather-bedding and gold-bricking, not "fairness".
The first priority of BCTF, BCPSEA, CUPE and school boards is jobs for adults, not improving outcomes for students.
Rating: 0
Lenore Clemens
At this time, yes - no matter what other problems parents may have, and/or differences, with teachers and/or the union, this time it is imperative we all stand together. When the province finally agrees to fund supports properly and honour it's legal contract, repaying money owed, then parents & teachers can work on the finer print and other concerns. In most of the important requests/ demands it is the teachers who are onside of quality, fully-funded public education for all students.
Rating: +3
Sandra Deyes
Given that the academic average necessary to guarantee admission for a student hoping to be accepted into UBC or SFU's teaching programs is in the 80's (these are the only institutions that offer the BEd and PDP programs in the lower mainland, as I understand it) along with lots of experience with kids and reference letters, and given that there are many more qualified applicants than there are spots, I don't think those 'crap wages and awful working conditions' are quite as bad as this author believes - there is no shortage of smart, hardworking university grads who want to be teachers. Must be because despite all the BCTF propaganda, being a teacher is still a desirable occupation!
Rating: +11
cul de sac
sadly this article describes a facile false dichotomy along with an envious tall poppies attitude. i tire of the public shaming for anyone who dares to exceed the contours of canadian middle-classdom. as for the strikes, all i know is that if i pulled that in my job i would be out of a job.
Rating: -5
Jennifer Wong
I'm curious to know how people have figured out the amount of days a teacher works. I have friends that are teachers, they don't only work 8am till 4pm and are fra lala I'm done. Many have hours that are much longer then what I work.
Have any of them considered if we paid them hourly we would be paying them almost 1-3 hours a day of overtime. Lets break it down past days worked:
They get to work around 8am and leave around 4 to 5.
They eat their lunch then walk around the ground to supervise for any incidents or they are assisting a child with help during this time.
Then there is detention... Yes they deal with disciplining children for many reasons. Mind you not always but it happens.
Then they go home and mark what ever papers they didn't get done during school cause they were assisting students that need extra help during the time that other students are quietly working on assignments. So the more student the more need help, the more help during the work day means more work at night.
Then they prepare for the next days lessons (reading the chapter they are going to be covering and preparing questions and answers.)
Many teachers I know are marking mid terms and finals for a whole weekend.
That's if they haven't taken on an extra curricular (sports, debate, spelling bees, chess club, drama club etc...)
So lets break it down in what a normal person sees as a working day.
During the day they work 8 to 4 with no real breaks.
Then a couple of hours of overtime everyday for the 184 days a year (would be 46 extra days of work at overtime)
Then the occasion couple of hours on the weekends during finals, mid terms and major essay marking.
Compare their days of work with an average tax paying worker in not only ridiculous it down right ignorant of what they actually do. So I'm going to work my 8 hours 250 day a year, get my 3 weeks vacation and get paid time and a half for overtime plus double time and a half for extra days and not complain that teachers aren't working hard enough for their pay cause of the amount of calendar DAYS they are for sure going to work. While my friend marks assignments at the beach on a Saturday while the rest of us regular tax payers are relaxing, playing and swimming.
Nevermind that fact that none of us would be where we are with out teahers.
Rating: +42
The paradox about education is that it is worth exactly what you think it is; the attempt to "justify" teachers' salaries or the value of an education will never be won. If you believe education is a commodity that can be assigned a monetary value then you will almost certainly find teachers lazy and overpaid.

If, on the other hand, you believe education is about ideals such as citizenship, participation, if in essence you believe education is about what makes us human, you will see education as priceless. For those who see education as priceless teachers are doing work of far more value than what they are currently being paid.

The only question for you dear reader, is where do your priorities lie?
Rating: +22
No More Public Sector Unions
In my neighbourhood, from which I take the bus downtown (and return) everyday, I hear both teachers and students. The latter group seem far more mature than the former and for the first time in my life I understand the expression "those who can do, and whose who can't teach". I have friends who are very good teachers, but there are too many that should not be working in schools at all. They are terrible "teachers", and even worse role models, especially for young adults. The union protecting that group tarnishes the reputation of the good teachers and in the medium run will make itself wholly irrelevant.
Rating: -14
F12 Berlinetta
Some good points in the article but there's no need to use coarse language like the sh*t word to get your message across.

However, if teachers are making anywhere from $48,000 - $74,000 a year with two months off in the summer (assuming that most don't teach summer school or have a 2nd gig), they shouldn't complain too much. If they want a higher salary range, they should have entered a different profession and/or change careers.
Rating: -16
Hurt Zog
Putting your children first means taking them out of the Social Marxist indoctrination pits of the public school system and home-schooling them instead.
Rating: -24
Why is it the so many of you feel the need to bash teachers, put down their education and paint them all with the same brush. Why are the teachers in British Columbia worth paying less than the teachers in other provinces. I am sad to live in a province where so many feel the need to demean teachers so easily, yet expect them to volunteer their free time etc. I totally support and respect the teachers for the work that they do taking care of and teaching children no matter their challenges, even the children of ignoramuses.
Rating: +16
if you're making $30/hour you're making enough. i'm siding against this strike
Rating: -23


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