Appreciating the Excellence….

Opinion piece by Doug Clovechok
President BC Liberal Columbia River Revelstoke Riding Association

Voltaire wrote that “appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well” and it is in the spirit of these words that I offer my appreciation to our teachers; recognizing that the excellence they offer belongs to us all through the achievements of our children.

Teaching is a job that demands great responsibility but produces amazing reward and satisfaction. It is a job that requires its members to have skill sets too long to list in this conversation, skills that help young people navigate towards whatever it is they may dream.

It is a job filled with both laughter and tears and it is hard. It is a job that changes lives and it does so often. These observations come from the over two decades I spent either teaching kids or working with teachers and school districts; and for all it gave to me I am grateful.

The world of teaching in BC is in upheaval as the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the Province continue to negotiate in good faith. These are tough negotiations as the current BCTF proposals for increased benefits alone would cost the province $2.1 billion to fulfill and the Minister of Education remains consistent in saying that the government must stick to the net zero mandate meaning no salary increases.

Contrary to this good faith, the NDP continue with their tactics of criticisizing the BC Liberal government without ever offering a constructive or realistic solution to anything. NDP leader Adrian Dix consistently dodges questions as to whether his party would support higher wages for teachers while MLA Norm Macdonald cites the province as, “not listening or talking to teachers”, “approaching bargaining with teachers with threats and conflict” and says “government is just trying to pick a fight”. This is nothing but partisan conjecture without substance, meaning that none of this rhetoric could be further from the truth.

The BC Liberal government has worked and continues to work with teachers.

In 2006 a first time ever negotiated five year agreement was achieved with the BCTF providing teachers with a 16% wage increase.

Today, Minister Abbott remains committed to working with teachers to improve our public education system and meet s regularly to discuss issues of mutual concern.

Since March he has met with teachers in thirteen different districts and will visit an additional six in September alone.

In a recent interview with The Vancouver Sun, Minister Abbott stated “teachers are professionals, respectful and constructive; these words are far from combative. Minister Abbott also spoke at the last BCTF convention where he received a standing ovation.

The BC Liberals remain committed supporters of teachers and public education and recognizing that two-thirds of British Columbia’s public sector has already signed net-zero contracts; and, given these financially challenging times, wage increases for our teachers is just not an option.

I will always be a staunch “cheerleader” for teachers and I am confident that hard work and mutual appreciation will continue to produce educational excellence that is focussed on our classrooms and most importantly our kids.

Doug Clovechok

President BC Liberal Columbia River Revelstoke Riding Association