For weeks now teachers have been receiving newsletters from the Ministry of Education that tell us in one way or another how important schools are for students. After the first few I started to get a visceral reaction whenever I saw one in my Inbox. I couldn’t quite articulate why until the latest newsletter stated:
Global research tells us that school closures disrupt the learning process and long-term outcomes of students. The adverse effects can go beyond learning loss and include implications like food insecurity or loss of access to health services that can be potentially harmful for students. As educators, you play a significant role that reaches beyond the classroom in children’s lives …
This one was the last straw.
To explain the impact of these newsletters, we need a second definition for the term ‘gaslighting’.
The original meaning refers to emotional abuse where the victim is made to question their sense of reality.
What the Ministry of Education is doing is more like political gaslighting.
It’s as though teachers have not struggled for decades to get the attention of governments about the needs of students in schools.
As though we did not forgo salary increases in order to ensure there was class size and composition language in our contracts so that students would get the supports they needed.
As though we did not spend 14 years in a legal battle with the government to regain the class size and composition language that was stripped from us.
As though we have not decried the uselessness and emotional cost of the Foundational Skills Assessments that the BCNDP promised, while in Opposition, to end.
As though our hearts don’t break every day we are told there are no Education Assistants for our students who desperately need them.
As though we don’t keep food in our classrooms for our hungry students.
As though we have not been spending hundreds of dollars each year on classroom supplies.
As though teachers have not held fundraising campaigns to provide what students need.
As though we don’t know that the shortage of counsellors leads to more suffering for our students.
As though we don’t know about the years of waiting for our students to see a School Psychologist.
As though we did not have to mount media campaign after media campaign for the past 20 years pointing out the needs of students in schools.
As if we have not been begging for years for our students to be funded at least to the Canadian average.
And now it’s someone’s job at the Ministry of Education to create newsletters telling us how important schools are for students?
We’ve been saying this for decades!
The Ministry of Education needs to stop politically gaslighting teachers and instead prioritize funding in schools.
If public schools in B.C. are important for:
- the economy
- the mental health of children
- the social-emotional needs of children
- the education of children
why are they funded like this:
Instead of publishing newsletters about the importance of schools, fund public education as though students’ well-being truly matters.
And stop gaslighting us.