I had an interesting conversation on Twitter this weekend, about the role of the BCTF in the teaching profession. I’ll let others speak for themselves, but the essential question seemed to be around what is the proper role for a union of professionals, like the BCTF? Should a teachers’ union function as a professional body? Or should it simply focus on the collective agreement, wages, working conditions, and occupational health and safety?
Key to getting public schools back on track is to focus on the integrity of teaching, learning, and reporting of student progress. If the curriculum is to be scaled back, then this must be made explicit and the costs to student learning should be known. Lost teaching and learning time for most students, especially students with limited resources available for at-home learning, should be clear and visible.
I wear a mask at school because I am a teacher. My first professional duty is to protect the health and safety of my students. Non-medical cloth masks help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. By wearing a mask, I can do my part to protect the students at my school (and other staff members as well).
Today is is the last day that the BCTF’s Executive Committee is planning to meet before the end of August. There will then be one final meeting of the Representative Assembly at the end of June. The Annual General Meeting met in late May. What this means is that soon all the critical decisions related to planning and preparing for a possible return to school in the fall must either be made today or at the end of the month, or that emergency meetings will need to be called before the end of August.
Our union already has the capacity to raise our voices as a profession, which is why the BCTF should be the one setting professional guidelines for schools during COVID-19. The BCTF’s Professional Issues Advisory Committee (PIAC) recently voted to recommend that the union develop its own guidelines, based on our knowledge as teaching professionals, for schools.
The teaching profession is in the midst of an historic moment – right now. Urgent action is called for in this time of crisis and opportunity. With back-to-school in September, coming sooner than most realize, now is the time to engage with BIPOC communities, reflect deeply as a profession on racial injustice, and to collaborate together, with government and other stakeholders, to prioritize making “we’re all in it together” a call for action, solidarity, and justice.
Today the Professional Issues Advisory Committee (PIAC), which provides advice to the Executive Committee of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, met to discuss its priorities, plan for the summer conference, and to consider urgent advice to the Executive Committee on matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Together, we have the power to work together – across colour lines and racial barriers – to help end racism and colonialism. Teachers, all teachers, have the power to transform public education to make public-schools a powerful force for ending all forms of oppression and domination, and that requires that white teachers stand and work with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) teachers to achieve this end together.
Under the “blended” dual-model approach, teachers are expected to teach using two (or more) platforms (i.e. in-person at school, remote-online at home) and to do this simultaneously. Moreover, for this to work at all, teachers must build both systems, essentially from scratch, at the same time as we are expected to teach using the two models. This is unworkable.
When it seemed like nearly everything in B.C. was shut down in response to COVID-19 we did this for two reasons: First, it was an emergency and we needed to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 to save lives. Second, we needed time to prepare the short-term and medium-term to adjust to…