In a bold bid to spark a more creative problem-solving approach to the current dispute, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation is taking the unusual step of releasing publicly its proposals for a solution.
Federation President Jinny Sims said the BCTF is pleased that talks are continuing today with the assistance of Vince Ready, and she remains optimistic a settlement can be reached soon.
“We want to inform teachers, parents, and students of the BCTF’s willingness to seek common ground and find solutions that will work for teachers and students in our schools,” she said.
Below are the elements of settlement that teachers will be bringing to the process facilitated by Mr. Ready today.
Amendments to the School Act to include:
class-size limits for Grades 4 through 12 and limits for classes that have safety and exceptional learning issues, including the successful integration of students with special needs.
staffing ratios for specialist teachers, such as teacher-librarians, counsellors, and learning assistance teachers.
Funding and a process for support for students with special needs that will involve the school-based team (the professionals working with the student’s parent) and will protect the confidentiality of the student.
A three-year agreement that provides stability to the system and allows time for relationships to improve.
Reasonable improvements in salary and benefits in years 2 and 3 of the agreement.
“These elements reflect teachers’ continued willingness to reach a resolution,” Sims said. “We are determined to make improvements for students and teachers, but we are also problem-solvers.”
Sims called on the government representatives to work through the process with Mr. Ready in the same spirit of co-operation. “This is not the time for threats, inflexibility, or posturing,” she said.
Sims said teachers continue to be tremendously heartened by the strong public support they are receiving on the picket lines throughout B.C.
We are so grateful for the cards, cookies, coffee, and other expressions of support that have come from parents, students, and concerned citizens across the province,” Sims said.
“As well, our co-workers in CUPE have demonstrated outstanding solidarity, along with members of the BCGEU, and the IUOE. And of course, I also want to acknowledge all affiliates of the B.C. Federation of Labour for joining us in taking such a strong stand against Bill 12.”
Sims said teachers are also very encouraged by the fact that more than 40 school boards have urged the government to take actions including negotiating a settlement with teachers, repealing Bill 12, and even abolishing the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association.
Sims also spoke out to her own members, thanking them for their strength and courage. “Our teachers remain incredibly strong on the picket lines, and united in our determination to reach a settlement that meets the needs of students and teachers in this province,” Sims said. “We believe that this proposal is a solution.”