I taught in South Africa during the Apartheid-era, in underfunded schools for ‘coloured’ people, with crowded classrooms and very few resources.
I never felt as dispirited, distressed, and disrespected as I do now, teaching in British Columbia under John Horgan’s government.
In South Africa, I had hope for a better tomorrow. I knew that democracy had to come one day and that I was on the right side of history in the fight for it.
For years I hoped that B.C. would elect a progressive, NDP government so that we could rehabilitate the deteriorating situations in schools. During the 2014 strike, while walking the picket line, and during endless hours in advocacy meetings and online, the dream of the BC NDP forming government kept me going.
In the 2017 election, I went all in during the election campaign, canvassing and contributing in many ways. I was thrilled when they won.
But, right from the start, when Fleming refused to hire more teachers while hundreds of students were without a classroom teacher for months, the signs were there that my hopes would be dashed.
I’ve written a few times about the many disappointments and don’t want to repeat them here. Frankly, I’m so tired of talking about the multiple betrayals, and about my shock at what turncoats the BC NDP turned out to be.
Now I just want to curl into a fetal position and hide.
There’ve been about 30 exposure letters in my school. Multiple classes have been ‘monitoring’ or ‘isolating’. Colleagues have had the virus.
And now there’s a new variant that is highly transmissible and potentially more dangerous and our Public Health Office has done nothing to increase the meagre protection measures in place. There’s been an increase in the number of cases of the new variants, and that they don’t know how they’re spreading.
I keep buying new kinds of masks that promise more protection. It feels futile.
I keep checking my “In case of Death” folder to ensure that all the information is clear for my daughter.
In South Africa we had no union to protect our rights as workers. There was no Workers’ Compensation Board for us.
But, even though now I am one of 44,000 teachers in a union, I feel helpless and powerless and at the mercy of a public health officer who denied for months that wearing masks was effective protection against being infected.
In the Rachel Maddow interview of Dr Fauci on Friday, 22nd January, it became glaringly obvious how out of alignment with the renowned epidemiologist the BC CDC is.
Dr. Fauci is an advocate of mass testing of asymptomatic people.
Dr. Bonnie Henry continues to resist that idea.
Fauci created a video to promote mask wearing everywhere. Because of Henry’s views on masks, not backed by any scientific research at all, teachers struggle to explain to students why they don’t have to wear a mask in a classroom, an indoor public place.
New research suggests that talking can spread the virus just as effectively as coughing does. Talking is what I do all day in the classroom and I encourage my students to talk to me, to each other. It’s what is done in a 21st century classroom. But the BC CDC K-12 guidelines are more suitable for a Dickensian classroom where students sit, unmasked, silently like statues, facing forward.
I’m constantly worrying that my ethical obligation to act as a prudent parent in the classroom is being handicapped by people who have no clue about how schools work today.
I am so done.
I resonate with the nurses who recently said that those of them who don’t die are going to quit.
Yes, that’s where I am, while teaching in one of the richest provinces in one of the richest countries in the world, under a democratically elected government formed by a political party that spent 16 years in Opposition promising better days for teachers.
What a colossal lie.