Addressing teacher conditions

I would like to clear up some issues that were printed in the letter from Joe Sawchuck originally published in your paper on March 7, 2012.

Editor:

I would like to clear up some issues that were printed in the letter from Joe Sawchuck originally published in your paper on March 7, 2012.

First of all, no teacher receives remuneration in return for unused sick days when retiring in this school district, I am unclear on how he assumes that they receive cheques of up to $44,000 upon retirement. I am guessing he has misread a recent article posted by CBC.ca.

He was right when he claimed that teachers are complaining about increasing class sizes in this province just like the teachers in Ontario.  The class size limit for primary classes B.C. is 24.  According to CBC News, the Ontario government is proposing to increase their primary class size limits to 22 or 23.

The real problem is found Bill 22, which will be passed in the provincial legislature by the time I have sent this letter.  Section 14 of the bill removes class size restrictions starting in grade 4.  It also removes restrictions to the number of special needs students in a class. With the net zero mandate (a policy that caps all funding to school districts regardless of uncontrollable rising costs, such as natural gas to heat the buildings) class sizes will inevitably rise.

Joe kept referring to people with regular jobs getting a raw deal in regards to benefits; I am not sure what he thinks regular jobs are.  I know a man who stocks shelves at Overwaitea here in town and he gets eight weeks of paid vacation every year.  My father also had 10 weeks of paid vacation by the time I was a teenager. His 18 year old pension from Alcan pays more than a teacher earns in his/her first five years teaching full time.  While he has passed away, my mother still receives his full pension, unlimited free medication, dental and extended health benefits. Working teachers do not have a benefit package this rich and many of these benefits disappear once they retire.

When I worked shift at Alcan, I got more days off than a teacher.  It is true that the taxpayers pay for the employers part of the teacher benefit package. But a Prince Rupert teacher with ten years seniority and 5 years of university contributes 15 per cent of his/her paycheck to income taxes and Employment Insurance, 14 per cent to pensions and three per cent to other medical benefits.

None of the privileges of working in the BC school system come for free.

Tamara Thomson

P.S. A lot of space in the news has been dedicated to teachers; they are only a small part of our education system. Most people in the system are children.

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