Perhaps the single most ridiculous stunt in the lead-up to this week’s teachers’ strike was pulled at an elementary school here in the capital.
A teacher gave her Grade 1 class an assignment for anti-bullying day: take crayons in hand and write to Education Minister George Abbott, demanding he stop bullying their teacher and address class size and composition. This North Korea-style political indoctrination of six-year-olds was a mistake, according to the local teachers’ union boss, who vaguely indicated that the unnamed teacher would apologize to parents.
Is this self-serving abuse of teacher authority an isolated incident? My experience as a parent and journalist suggests it is not, and recent events support that. By Friday, students across B.C. were skipping class in solidarity with their teachers, led by budding campus radicals suddenly conversant with B.C. Teachers’ Federation talking points about “Bill 22.”
This left-wing groupthink pervades the education system from public schools through taxpayer-supported colleges and universities.
After a couple of generations of this indoctrination, almost everyone “knows” that government under-funding is at the heart of every school problem, standardized testing is an assault on the fragile self-esteem of students, and reducing class size is the top priority for improving educational outcomes. All of this is glaringly false union propaganda, reinforced in classroom “current affairs” discussions.
Don’t believe me? Google “Study: Class size doesn’t matter” for the latest on a growing stack of scientific evidence that shows you and your children are being force-fed lies.
B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert announced the strike on live TV with a remarkable string of rhetoric about the “Orwellian” legislation that will soon put an end to this teacher tantrum. The government needs to negotiate “clearly, rationally and respectfully,” said the boss of union representatives who have spent the last year insulting the taxpayers’ negotiators by telling them to “go back to your masters” and get a couple of billion more.
Clearly? It was the BCTF that announced its work-to-rule plan for the fall and then took the summer off. It was the BCTF that didn’t even present its outrageous 16-per-cent wage demand until January, a full 10 months after formal negotiations began, and accompanied it with a false costing.
Orwellian? At a sparsely attended rally on the legislature lawn, local teachers’ unions marched out their most strident tame trustee to demand the government “come to the table” with billions. One teacher in the crowd held up a large sign adorned with three mug shots: Premier Christy Clark, ex-premier Gordon Campbell and Benito Mussolini, to illustrate a multiple-choice question about “fascism.”
This teacher should be assigned to write an essay about the Italian dictator’s formative years, and his schooling in particular.
In Vancouver, a protesting teacher got big media play, holding up a sign proclaiming that “it’s not about a wage increase, it’s about classroom conditions.”
This too is a lie. The BCTF trotted out its standard “children first” rhetoric, then tabled its breathtakingly out-of-touch benefit demands. It doesn’t take a math teacher to see what its $2 billion wage and benefit fantasy would actually do to classroom conditions.
For his part, Abbott started out pretty keen about students and parents heading down to occupy their local school and replace striking teachers with volunteers for a couple of days. But he changed his tune after the support staff union started grumbling about parents colouring too close to their craft lines.
One fight at a time, I guess. The next one will be over teacher performance assessment and the choke-hold of union seniority on school jobs.
Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com