Like those Japanese soldiers who didn’t hear about the end of World War II, the militant fringe that controls the B.C. Teachers’ Federation is digging in for endless battle against the B.C. government.
Their nemesis, Premier Christy Clark, reiterated last week that seeking a 10-year agreement with the BCTF is a top priority when the legislature is recalled this summer.
The current one-year truce ends June 30. The BCTF grudgingly agreed to that extension last year, then ran TV ads calling for an NDP government that promised concessions and union bosses on both sides of the negotiating table.
“You know, I may be a lame duck,” outgoing BCTF president Susan Lambert crowed to cheering classroom-warfare radicals at the union’s convention in March, “but I think Christy’s goose is cooked.”
We’ll never know how much this sort of gloating contributed to the epic collapse of the NDP, champion of public sector union members whose pay and benefits make them the new upper class.
But I can tell you the prospects for sparing children from this ideological warfare are not good.
Last week the B.C. Court of Appeal handed down an ivory-tower decision that upheld the “right” of teachers to bring their union demands into the classroom in the form of posters, buttons and black armbands that to some self-absorbed teachers symbolize the “death” of education.
During the election campaign, The Globe and Mail carried a story on one of those mock elections held in schools around the province. An elementary-level student was quoted as saying she voted against the B.C. Liberals because Clark “caused a teachers’ strike.”
If this kid was talking about the most recent strike, I wonder where she got that idea. In a negotiating performance that was appalling even by BCTF standards, Lambert and her team conducted months of disruptive work-to-rule action before they could even articulate a wage and benefit demand. When they finally did, it was outrageously out of touch with reality.
An indication of how the union’s ruling class wants to conduct itself in the classroom can be found in the latest issue of the BCTF newsletter to its members. Joanna Larson, president of the Prince Rupert union local, contributes an article headlined: “What kind of citizen do we hope to graduate from our K-12 public schools?”
Larson first quotes the education ministry’s current goals. They include preparing citizens who are “creative, flexible, self-motivated, and who have a positive self-image.” Another goal is citizens who are “skilled and who can contribute to society generally, including the world of work.”
Larson then mocks these goals, as follows:
“Essentially, the Ministry of Education has a vision of citizens who will maintain the status quo, not rock the boat, and participate on a superficial level in aspects of political and societal change. It doesn’t challenge individuals to take direct action against exploitation, marginalization and violence.”
In case you missed the political message, Larson later asserts: “The educated citizens we graduate from our schools cannot just be content to wear a pink shirt once a year…. Educated, engaged citizens must be willing to take direct action to change and shape our society for the better.”
What is this ghastly “status quo” that must be challenged by “direct action”? In these campus-radical screeds, the final answer is generally the same: capitalism. This call to arms is a blend of the NDP election platform and a rant from the Occupy Vancouver squat of a couple of years ago.
It’s no wonder we hear of students making BCTF picket signs in art class.
Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com