It must be so difficult being Premier of the province these days. What with having to deal with all the complaints about oil sands pipelines, and worrying about the changes in the LNG market, putting all your plans for our economy in jeopardy. It must give you many headaches to have to think about all that.
I can imagine also that you must be very busy and hardly getting any sleep as you fly around the province to the various fundraisers for your 2017 re-election campaign. It can never be too early to work on the next election campaign, can it?
But what I wanted to write to you about was this fight you’re having with the teachers and the BCTF. See, I’m not a politician but you may want to re-think your strategy with the teachers. Something happened when you locked them out of their classrooms in June….
Usually during lunch time they are too busy photocopying and working with kids and they don’t have much time to talk to each other but when the lockout forced them to eat their lunch out on the sidewalk, they suddenly discovered that they had lots of time on their hands and that they could have conversations in a way that is not possible in a busy school day or even on a Pro-D or in a staff meeting.
You see, normally in a typical secondary school that has a teaching staff of about 80 teachers, most teachers only ever talk to about 5 teachers daily and then perhaps about 10 others on other occasions but during the lockout, that changed. There was lots more conversation and, I’m sorry to say, those conversations were mostly about you and what your real agenda is when it comes to public education. Teachers shared information and experiences and built up relationships that had not existed before.
The other thing the lockout did was that it freed up time on weekends that would normally be used for marking and preparation of lessons but because you forbad teachers from doing any of that, they found it very difficult to break old habits. They were so used to the kinds of tasks they had done for years on weekends, they looked for outlets for all that pent-up energy and that’s how they discovered social media in a way that was unprecedented.
They started pages on Facebook, they joined pages on Facebook and they set up blogs and wrote and blogged and tweeted. They wrote letters to the media, they wrote letters to MLA’s. They commented on each other’s posts on the various pages set up to support teachers. They shared blog posts so much, they were noticed by alternative media like Huffington Post and Rabble.ca. They started Twitter tags like #thisismystrikepay that went viral across the world. Bit by bit they built up this network of connections and information that is proving to be quite resilient and resistant to anything that BCPSEA says or does.
I’m afraid that your lockout, the one they tagged #Christyclarkslockout on Twitter, has been the catalyst for the creation of a network focused on resisting any attempts to privatize public education in BC.
I’m sorry to have to tell you this but all the work you’ve been doing for the past 12 years to save taxpayers money by shifting money away from the education budget and toward other investments may be all for nought as this network continues to grow and strengthen.
You should see what they’re talking about on all the pages! They’ve dug up all kinds of facts and statistics and information that makes a compelling case for their assertion that a well-funded public education system is critical to a democracy. They are now also attacking your economic policies and are referring to studies that show that government austerity measures actually kill economies. This is dangerous information when you’ve been trying so hard to focus on balancing the budget. Do you know that they have the audacity to suggest that the whole concept of a balanced budget is just a myth and that there is enough money for schools if there is enough money for investments in mills and pipelines?
I think the best thing for you to do is to get teachers back into classrooms as soon as possible. Start the year early to make up for all the time that was lost in June! Get teachers busy with lesson preparation and teaching again so that they can stop talking to each other and to the public about public education. It’s actually quite scary the number of parents that are now talking to teachers!
Some of these parents are really very angry that they are only now realizing what has been happening in schools for the past 12 years! They have been talking about working on a recall campaign and they have started so many petitions!
Oh! I should not leave out the students! Have you seen the letters they’ve been writing in support of teachers? And all those videos on YouTube? Some of them are quite clever and funny. Sorry, but they are! And they’re getting lots of views too!
So you see, if you get teachers back into classrooms you may be able to stop this network from growing and getting stronger.
I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, I know it must be quite stressful, but I really do think that you poked a hornets’ nest when you attacked public school teachers and their union.
To save yourself and your party’s chances for re-election, you should do whatever it takes to get those hornets back into the nest. Give them whatever they say they need for their working conditions because you know they’ve argued quite successfully that their working conditions are students’ learning conditions and now parents agree with them. I don’t think you’d want to have thousands of parents angry with you when you promised to put their families first during your last election campaign. Best to do what you promised last time before you work on your promises for 2017.
I hope this helps and that you have a good rest before your next fundraiser!