Gaslighting teachers

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: 

Funding 2

Instead of publishing newsletters about the importance of schools, fund public education as though students’ well-being truly matters.

And stop gaslighting us.

7 thoughts on “Gaslighting teachers”

  1. Omg, this is exactly how I’ve been feeling! How dare the govt decide that now when it’s convenient, teachers and the schools they work in, provide valuable services such as emotional support to entire families, food, supplies, a safe haven, and on and on… beyond political gaslighting, we’ve also been convenient ‘tools’ for the NDP to hang their superhero-aspiration hats on. Although we continue to do exactly as we’ve done, supporting students with whatever their needs are, the government will insist that it was they who created the safety net for our students. Great post encapsulating the intentions of these all too frequent ministry emails.

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  2. Our role as a teacher requires us to know how important school and its gaps are, to an involved and informed citizen. This article spells out the underestimation that our govt has for teachers and it’s political manipulation to hang us out to dry if there are issues. Nasty!

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  3. I don’t get it. I really don’t get it. Why is it that the government and a good part of the citizenry aren’t screaming out that education is the answer to a great part of what is ailing society ? Our present government in BC has been doing some great work but why put the brakes on when it comes to education ? Talking the talk gets us nowhere. We need to start walking the walk.

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  4. That is an excellent article. As a retired teacher, I understand your frustration. Throughout my 35 years as a teacher in two provinces, gaslighting is what we grew to expect. Throughout my career, all I hard was the austerity message, when it cameo departmental spending, but a generosity message when it came to what I should be prepared to do. Not one cost-cutting measure worked to bring about anything better for children. Not one, regardless of the party in power. Public schools primary role has changed from educating children, to providing a baby-sitting service for their parents.

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