It’s not about the money. Really?


When John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States he suggested his people stop asking what the country could do for them and ask instead what they could do for their country. It’s advice the BC Teacher’s Federation should heed.

Like a catechism recited by rote, the words remembered but never understood, the BCTF continues to repeat its demands are not about money. It, and its sheep-like members, insist the main target they are aiming for is reduced class size. But apart from suggesting a piddling one per cent reduction in wage demands, money – big money –  remains high on the negotiation table.

I wonder what would happen if the BCTF said “because we sincerely believe class size is of prime importance we will withdraw all monetary demands – if you, the government, will agree to use the savings to reduce class size by a set percentage every year for the next few years until we reach an agreed to, acceptable student-teacher ratio?”

What the best acceptable class size would be I leave to educators – and the people charged with collecting our tax dollars and spending them wisely on affordable programs and projects. I’ll be among the first to admit wise spending is not always high on the credit list for governments, but a legal class-size reduction formula could surely be locked into a binding collective agreement.

In the process the BCTF might see fit to advance the argument that smaller class sizes should mean better education for our children. Not “would” just “should” if the BCTF accepts that many members need to improve their classroom skills if public school graduates are to emerge from Grade 12 ready to face university, or with adequate skills for the work place.

Teachers have a tough job, made tougher by many former students, now parents, who don’t really give a damn about “education” as long as for ten months a year their children have somewhere to go during the work week.

But having made that concession to the oft repeated claim of “pressures in the crowded classroom” let me hasten to add there are many jobs in the world with far greater pressures. I’m sure every reader of this piece will have his or her own list of jobs where mental pressures far exceed those of a crowded class room and are often accompanied with potential threats to the workers own life and limb – or the lives of others.

Hydro line workers in mid-winter storm; bus drivers threading their way through rush hour traffic; doctors trying to track down what’s wrong inside out bodies and surgeons trying to remove or repair what ails us; commercial airline pilots flying on local or mass passenger aircraft; aircraft controllers who guide those aircraft in and out of airports.

The list is endless and the quickly made claim that they all make more money, much more money, than teachers is true.

But then, as the BCTF stresses, it isn’t about the money, is it?



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