For a very long time now, teachers in BC have longed for some respect and support from the government.  Every time when the  government changes, we hope for better.  As we realized that nothing is different this time around, my husband has voiced our concerns in an e-mail sent to Christy Clark.  Here is what happened so far.

The first e-mail sent to the premier.

"Dear Madam Premier,

I write today as a British Columbia taxpayer and a parent with 2 elementary school children. I am disgusted with the methods being used by the British Columbia Government in its negotiations with the teachers. I am at a loss as to how the government can refuse to improve the education system for our children who are after all the true future of this beautiful province. I see the teachers of both my sons attempting to teach under very trying circumstances, with learning disabled students and insufficient assistance, they come in early, stay late, work at home, use their own supplies but are treated like leaches by the Minister of Education. I don't know of a teacher that I have ever had or who is now teaching my children that has worked less than a 60 hour week. I know a music teacher who just spent $450 of her own money purchasing music for her students. The teachers of British Columbia are hardworking, dedicated, caring professionals who deserve much better treatment than your government has seen fit to provide. Please give the teachers a decent wage increase not the paltry pittance they have been offered, reduce the class sizes, put more Teaching Assistants and Aids in the classroom. Invest in our future, invest in our children they are far more important than any oil or gas project could ever be and they most certainly cause no harm to the environment.

As a taxpayer and parent I also ask myself the question "Why does the Premier not send her own son to a public school?" The only answer I can reasonably conclude is that you as Premier and ultimately responsible for the school system realize that it is lacking, that it simply isn't as good as it should be. I of course then ask the next logical question "Why doesn't she fix it?"

Please Madam Premier, invest in our children, raise taxes if you must but let's make the British Columbia education system better, let's make it the best in Canada and if at all possible let's make it the finest education system in the world. It is after all my money you're spending and I am hereby giving you permission to spend more of it on education."

Here is a response from her office.

"Thank you for your email. We appreciate the time you have taken to share your concerns with us about issues surrounding teachers’ bargaining.

We all want this dispute resolved by the end of the school year, which is why we’re taking significant measures to get to an agreement. Parents and students don't deserve this disruption, and our government believes we should be resolving this dispute at the negotiating table, not the classroom. Our goal has always been long term stability and a negotiated settlement. That’s why we’ve tabled a fair package, with incentives to reach an agreement.

We recognize how difficult the bargaining process can be for parents and students, and we need to stop recurring labour disputes from distracting us from important public discussions about the future of our education system. We owe it to our children to not repeatedly compromise their learning due to our inability to come to an agreement.

We believe teachers should have the opportunity to sign a wage package that is similar to all other public sector unions - it must be fair for all, and it must be affordable for taxpayers. We have a duty to make sure that there is stability in the classroom, and will continue to work diligently at the bargaining table to get to an agreement. 

Again, thank you for writing. We have noted your concerns and will be sure to include your comments in any related discussions moving forward."

And, finally - second e-mail sent to Premier's office.  

"Dear Madam Premier,

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to respond to my email of this morning. I am rather astounded that you mention that you wish the negotiations to come to a conclusion by the end of the school year. Might I remind you that we are only 3 weeks away from that point. The children right now are missing out on their sports days, on their end of the year activities and the way your government is negotiating I doubt that I will see a report card for them until sometime next school year. I also disagree that you have tabled a fair package. The class sizes are too large, the number of children who require additional attention and assistance but are left wanting is far too many, the teachers work long and hard and put in extra unpaid hours for everything from class planning to sports activities, music events, drama events and other significant areas of our children's education, they spend their own funds on supplies because the government does not provide a reasonable budget for them to get the job done. They deserve a fair wage increase over a reasonable time frame and let's be realistic here, no one in their right mind would agree to a 6 year contract given the unstable economic situation.

I definitely agree with your paragraph with respect to the need to put an end to the disruption of the children due to these labour disputes. I don't believe however, that you fully understand that it is the intransigence of the government negotiators that escalates these disputes to a point where the teachers feel they have no choice but to withdraw their services. The Government of British Columbia needs to understand that the very future of British Columbia lives and breathes in the schools of this province and that without a top-quality education system our province will never rise to the top.

I believe that you missed most of the points in my original email most especially the part that as a taxpayer I am more than prepared to pay for the education that my children deserve. I do not however, have pockets to waste money on the lunches at expensive restaurants and other frivolous expenditures. It is high time that your government stopped wasting my hard earned money on showing off to other governments and business leaders. I might suggest here that you show them what a responsible government does with the hard earned money of its taxpayers by treating visitors to budget conscious choices in place of the grandeur of the best. The taxpayers of this province ask only that you use our money in responsible ways such as improving the education system, the health system and the social safety net."

Please, please, please - voice your opinion and concerns.  Our family did.

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