Members of the BC Teacher’s Federation voted overwhelmingly in favour of withdrawing volunteer work they do at school in opposition to Bill 22, the Education Improvement Act.
During a vote conducted from April 17-19, 73 per cent of the more than 28,000 teachers who cast their ballot supported the move, which would include services such as coaching sports teams, working on after-hours drama or music performances and helping to facilitate graduation activities.
“Teachers struggle with this because these activities bring so much joy to our engagement with students. We know this will mean the loss of some highly-valued activities, and we sincerely regret that. But we have to look at the bigger picture and the longer term,” said BCTF president Susan Lambert in a statement.
“This vote sends a powerful message to government that they must rethink Bill 22, listen to the concerns of teachers, respect our rights, and invest in services to students. Teachers are united in opposition to this terrible piece of legislation, the twentieth bill passed by the BC Liberals since 2001 targeting teachers’ professional and labour rights. We simply have to take a strong stand.”
In Prince Rupert, superintendent Lynn Hauptman says the withdrawal of service will impact both students and parents.
“There are some community members who have stepped forward to help out where they can in terms of extra curricular activities, and grad have to be carried on by administration and parents. It means what used to be collaborative effort with lots and lots of staff, they will no longer be involved and it will fall on the parents and administration,” said Hauptman, who added that it will also impact what sports move forward as they require a school district sponsor.
“In BC School Sports, rugby, track and field, golf, tennis, badminton and girls soccer are the sports being affected. For many students, that is the sport where they excel and they may not have that opportunity this year…The sports need sponsors and the only sponsors available are administrators. They can only be so many places and still have to do their job, and as sponsor they would be expected to be at all practices and games.”
That being said, Hauptman did say they understand that all the extracurricular activities teachers do are voluntary, with teachers giving their own time to help out.
“I really hope we have some conclusion to this strife that we have within the system.
As well as withdrawing volunteer services, the BCTF says there is the possibility of a future vote to withdraw all services.
Look for more local reaction to this story as it becomes available.