The following letter penned to B.C. Premier Christy Clark has gone viral on social media. It’s written by Christine Adams, a Grade 7 teacher:
Ok, Christy Clark, I’m going to need some help understanding this one.
Starting Monday, you will not let me help my students at recess and lunch? It is rare that a day goes by that I don’t have students in during that time who desperately need help. With all the cutbacks with student support and with no regard to my class composition and the needs of the students in my class, how will they learn if I can’t go over concepts with them during my break? And if I do help them, I will be disciplined?
In fact, starting Monday, you insist that we all leave the school property at recess and lunch? Do you have any idea what happens in a school when that bell goes? You want the building to be free of teachers while hundreds of children are transitioning in the hallway? Have you considered the safety factor in that one? So I’m not allowed to use the washroom on my breaks? If I can’t leave my students during class, and I’m not allowed to be in the building during my breaks, are you suggesting that I must go the entire day without using the washroom?
Starting Monday, you’re also telling me that I am only allowed to work 45 minutes prior to the bell and 45 minutes after. I can’t take my work home, I can’t mark at home, I can’t do my report cards at home and I can’t prepare my lessons at home yet you still insist that I do all of these things? Does that mean you will be giving us money finally to buy resources so I don’t have to build all my units from scratch? For every hour in my class, I’m putting in an hour outside of it developing lessons, making resources, planning units and writing report cards. I have no idea how I am supposed to do all of that in 90 minutes a day outside of direct teaching time. Perhaps you want me to do that while the students are in my class? I just can’t, Christy. I want them to learn.
Starting Monday, you will not let me help organize students into classes for next year? So if I know that a child is intimidated by another in my class, or does not work well with someone, I am not able to do anything about that? Have you been in a classroom? There’s a very fine art to separating children who simply are unable to get along, and yet another art to finding children to put together to build new friendships and find a sense of belonging. At my school alone, our teachers invested at least 15 hours last year fine tuning the classrooms, making sure we could make the best of our situation of kids with learning disabilities, with behaviour problems, with IEPs, with social difficulties. I know our school administrators are capable individuals, but they simply do not know how best to place my students, and are not aware of the specifics of the 11 students I have this year who have higher needs.
And, Christy, I’m absolutely crushed that you won’t let me go to my daughter’s grade 7 leaving ceremony at her school. I don’t even work at her school, but you refuse to let me on public school property. Funny thing is, the teacher that is spending countless hours organizing that ‘grad’ also has a child in that class, and she won’t be able to attend it either. I expect we will both be standing outside of school grounds trying to maintain composure. Right now, not that you care, I’m not maintaining composure. I didn’t very well in class today when I told my own grade 7s that I wasn’t allowed to attend their grade 7 leaving. They saw the tears in my eyes.
I know that you will tell me BC teachers started this strike business. We could argue about the logistics of that for quite some time. Do you realize that we chose rotating strikes so we could still volunteer our time on the other days of the week? We were still going on field trips, organizing grad ceremonies, doing extra-curricular, and giving whatever we could to the students in our schools. And now you won’t let us? I look forward to my year end activities with my students. I am not looking forward to telling them that you won’t let me take them.
Do I need a raise? Yes, I truly do. I believe I deserve the 18% you gave your administration, but I’d be happy with keeping up with the cost of living. 4 straight years of 0% is catching up with me. 2 more years of 0% just might break me. Everything is going up, and my paycheque is actually getting smaller. That just doesn’t seem right to me. I just don’t understand why I don’t deserve the cost of living.
Oh and as long as I’m trying to understand all of this, why is privatization so important to you? You are starving education and healthcare. It seems your plan is to continue to do this so you can say to the public, “Look. The school system is not working! We need to do something different!” At that point, I expect you’ll push your two-tiered education system a little harder, and your next course of business will be a two-tiered health care system. That might work well for you and your well-paid staff, but not for the majority of us. What will most of us do in a two-tiered health care system? Do you just not care because it just does not affect you?
By the way, we DO need to do something different; we need you to start funding education again. I was thinking that in my children’s neighbourhood high school, if you funded just to the national average, they would have $1 000 000 more each year. My own children and I had fun mentally spending that for their school. It was kind of like going through the Sears Wishbook when we were kids, but, like the Wishbook, when someone else is holding the chequebook, it’s all just a dream.
By the way, why is your chequebook out for the private school system? I’m a little confused why you were able to increase funding for those schools but not public schools. Is that because your son attends a private school?
On your Facebook page, you recently said that you are “acknowledging historical wrongs,” but do you realize you’re creating one right now? And you’re right, we can’t undo the past. Take some time to do some research in what investing in our children now will do for our future. And look into what happens if we don’t. It will cost us all a great deal more in the generations to come. I also know you are aware that BC has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, and yet you still have no plan for those children either. All of this is so incomprehensible to me.
You broke the law. Twice. You’ve been told that your tactics with BC Teachers are unconstitutional. To me, that’s not much different than your predecessor who thought it okay to drink and drive and that saying sorry made it all better.
I have so many more questions, Christy, but I expect you’ve long stopped reading. Just on another note, I have to tell you that my 16 year old said to me today that he thought maybe people had to be hurt in some way to be able to really empathize with others. How profound. On that wisdom, I assume you’ve had a brilliant life, as you have no empathy for those you perceive to be below you. I wish all of our citizens of BC could have the same opportunity.
I have never been afraid of a politician before, Christy, but I am afraid of you. I love my province. I’m proud of my province. But I’m afraid there won’t be much left of it when you’re done.