School board not a place for teachers

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To the Editor:

On Nov. 2, I attended the school trustee candidates forum. As the evening progressed, I became increasingly concerned about what I was witnessing. Recently, the provincial government introduced steps that will end the stranglehold by the BC Teachers’ Federation on the BC College of Teachers. Now it appears that the BCTF is trying to seek power on local school boards. What a surprise to read, the next day, on the front page of the Advance that local teachers are working together to defeat the chair of our local school board. Further enquiries show that this pattern of behaviour is being repeated right across the province.

The teachers have a platform from which they can make their demands. It is their union, the BC Teachers’ Federation. The taxpayers, the parents and the students do not have a union; they only have trustees on the local school board to speak up for them. Of course, there will be differences of opinion on where to place the limited resources, but giving away the farm will not benefit the students.

Let us be clear what the function and responsibilities of the school trustees are. Using the analogy of a corporation, we, the taxpayers, are the shareholders. The trustees are the board of directors and the teachers, together with other support staff, are the employees. An employee collective does not establish policy nor does it oversee senior management, but is a partner in achieving the best bottom line possible. In the case of an education system, the bottom line is the breadth and depth of the level of education achieved by the students in its charge. Having to declare a conflict of interest and leaving the discussion to others because one is either an employee or related to one would leave the Town of Creston without representation.

The other concern that I have is some of the candidates declaring not just a willingness but a desire to “fight”, “lock horns”,” demand”, etc.  one partner does not achieve long-term success by beating another partner into an embarrassing submission. In government, in business and in life itself, success comes from situations that result in win-win-win outcomes. An ancient saying from the days of Helen of Troy comes to mind: “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”

Alan Burt