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.
8 thoughts on “What a lie!”
I feel just the same, Lizanne.
I understand Henry and Tam not recommending masks at first given the SARS based evidence available at the beginning. But by the time schools went back in September, we knew better. And they knew better.
I am a retired teacher now, but I did not return to my work supervising student teachers for the Kootenay programs in September because I did not believe the schools were safe. My husband is retired, too, but Has also relinquished his TTOC work this year for safety’s sake. Our niece teaches in Surrey and had to return to work during this year when her medical leave expired. She is frightened and I hold my breath for her. Our daughter is a teacher who will return to work in September following her maternity leave. I am holding my breath for things to be better by then. Holding my breath for all the teachers on the frontlines this year. Waiting to exhale.
I have been a BCTF activist throughout my 40+ year career. And an NDP member all my adult life. But I refused to help with the election this time around and made very clear my reasons. I don’t know what to tell you about how to deal with the depth of the NDPs betrayal. I cannot comprehend it. It baffles me into depression every time I think about. But I rely on an old piece of wisdom: we can’t let the bastards grind us down. Even our own bastards.
I have been inspired by your strong, articulate voice many times. I hope you will not let it fall silent. But certainly we may take a pause sometimes to gather our strength. Please take care. We are never alone, never defeated, no matter how disheartened.
With sincere regard, Kate Noakes
Thank you so very much for this Kate. It feels like a warm hug. I needed that.
“Now I just want to curl into a fetal position and hide.”
Thank you for speaking our words out loud. I am fighting this feeling everyday.
We are not alone.
Husband is immunocompromised and on immunosuppressants. He’s on indefinite unpaid leave, no salary indemnity, no access to ei, no access to anything because he’s seen as “refusing ” to work be ause school gas been deemed safe. Now we will have to refuse to pay gas and electric to feed our family.
I m aldo a teacher but wirh credentials not accepted by the BC, best i can hope for is shelf stocking. But can’t find anything, trying so hard to find ANYTHING. And when i do i ll have to live in a tent in the yard to protect him and our kids.
THIS is how much BC values teachers and all school staff. We know 3 families where both parents are teachers. Both parents are immunocompromised they have to risk their lives or risk their homes.
We will be all out of savings in 2 months. Noone cares. We’ve been abandoned. We’ll only be noticed when we are homeless and they come for the kids.
This is heartbreaking. I’m so sorry. Have you tried appealing to your MLA?
Noone cares. We get the standard form letter. And bctf, local, useless. All we get is ” bonnie henry says it’s safe, nothong we can do ” bern fighting for soooooo long, just can’t do it anymore.
He’s worked for VLN before and asked to transfer there for a year was told no.
Now it looks like he may have cancer. If its the kind they think, he wont be alive for next school year. First time ive ever thought of terminal cancer as a good thing. At least we’ll have access to his salary indemnity then.
His school has multiple letters since christmas. Staff have been calling saying don’t come back. They are terrified.
Noone cares, and noone will because we are just another statistic. Another check mark on the homeless count. Another check mark on the list of kids in care. Another deatj sattostic from.wither cancer, or if he has to go back likely another covid statistic
Lizanne, I saved this to read when I had the time and focus. That was just now. My heart is breaking for you, and your disappointment, and your fear, and your exhaustion, and on and on. I continue to hold you in my mind and heart as this unfolds.
with care, Carole Ames