So the new education minister has said that he will scrap the BCPSEA, which bargained on behalf of government in contract talks with teachers. His aim is to settle a ten-year long contract with the BCTF and to, in the words quoted in the Vancouver Sun, ditch the toxic relationship between the province and the teachers. The BCPSEA was always a shell, an organization set up so that it could legitimately plead poverty in negotiations even when its parent seemed flush with cash for megaprojects, spectacle and ruinous IPP contracts. Good riddance to what was, essentially, a living lie. However, the idea that the BCTF would willingly sign an agreement with the province of the length proposed by Minister Fassbender (mouthpiece for Christy Clark, engineer herself of a large part of the legacy of bitterness between the province and teachers) without there being ironclad guarantees of stability in purchasing power and serious teeth in the implementation and enforcement of reasonable provisions for class size and composition, an end to meddling in professional development, and a more collegial decision-making process in which teachers, through their bargaining unit, would have a real say in how the school system functioned, is pure fantasy, and really points to more of the same vitriol. It would be, in effect, the imposition of a contract whose terms would be dictated largely by the Liberal Party bureaucrats through the Ministry of Education and would virtually guarantee that there would be no peace in the school system until a more balanced approach were found. It could be seen as an initiative to finally break the school system beyond repair as an excuse to turn the whole enterprise over to private interests, wherein the Province could take the costs off the books, they could cut teachers and their nuisance union loose and let them take their chances with aggressive capital. This would also, of course, further the Liberal dream of a province and world without unions, where capital and privilege reign supreme, where wealthy families can educate their young in the lap of luxury while the rest are forced to attend fact factories on their way to low-skill, low pay work, or pass directly into the penal system, where the work is the same and the pay even lower.
We have another four years of this kind of underhanded chicanery that does nothing to build a relationship of trust and everything to frustrate all other stakeholders. Parents are being held hostage, but it isn’t the BCTF that’s doing it.
Many thanks to Adrian Raeside for generously allowing the use of his work.