Teachers Stronger Together: Building the power to serve students through unity, solidarity, and compassion

Teachers Stronger Together Principles

  1. Power and energy from the grassroots-up, not the top-down, builds a more inclusive, stronger, and more energized union.
  2. Achieving results for teachers and public education requires accountability, transparency, fair and democratic structures, unity, solidarity, and compassion.
  3. Uniting around common values, universal justice, inclusion and fairness, and democratic engagement builds our power to defend the integrity of public education together.

Teachers Stronger Together Platform

#1 – Raise the status of the profession for all members.

  • Develop effective and continuous bargaining and political action strategies to end the salary gap between B.C. and other provinces – during and between rounds of collective bargaining
  • Provide members and locals with grassroots training on political action, building power and solidarity, and achieving significant gains through effective collective bargaining
  • Achieve gains in recruitment and retention of B.C. teachers – because every child deserves a teacher
  • Increase funding for teacher-led professional development

#2 – Strengthen teachers’ professional autonomy for all members.

  • Increase union representation in education policy and decision making at all levels of the public school system
  • Continue to work to put teachers in charge of how to use educational technology in our classrooms and schools, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Provide increased support for local efforts to advance professional development, mentorship, and member engagement processes that strengthen teachers’ professional autonomy

#3 – Achieve reasonable workloads and adequate resources for all members.

  • Raise public awareness on how needless interruptions to instructional time and increasing pressure to waste teachers’ time ends up harming the quality of education for too many students
  • Secure superior provisions on class size and class composition language for all locals
  • Push back on any teacher automotion agenda, such as increases in the use of top-down approaches to digital instructional platforms (advocate to put teachers in charge of the appropriate use of instructional technology in their own practice)
  • Insist on having the tools and resources needed to do our jobs as professionals
  • During COVID-19, insist that the education system not adopt any new models or platforms (no hybrid, no blended, no dual-track, etc.), and instead:
    • Call for adaptations to the existing public education system (so that students and educators are safe during COVID-19)
    • Call for the provision of individual accommodations to students – based on need (so that every student continues to have access to public education during COVID-19)

#4 – Protect teachers’ health and safety, especially during COVID-19.

  • Secure PPE, including face shields and N95 respirator masks, for all teachers and educators
  • Develop professional guidelines for schools, ensuring safety for students and educators alike
  • Prioritize securing accomodations for teachers, other occupational health and safety rights for all members, providing locals with grants and other supports to advocate on behalf of members who require accommodations

#5 – Defend the integrity of universal and equitable public education for all students and communities.

  • Advocate for truly safe and inclusive schools during COVID-19 by working with government on plans and preparations, developing professional guidelines for schools during the pandemic, and prioritizing meeting the needs of vulnerable, disabled, marginalized, and equity-seeking students during all phases/stages of the pandemic
  • Push back on experiments, Trojan Horses, and new models for public education during the pandemic – instead call for adapting schools and, other existing programs, for COVID-19 and then providing students with individual accommodations – based on need
  • Continue to defend and strengthen inclusive education for all students, especially for equity-seeking, vulnerable, marginalized, and disabled student
  • Make it a priority to end ableism in public education and support fully inclusive schools with adequate resources, provided on an equitable basis, in support of meeting each student’s needs (work to achieve increased funding and better assessment for students with complex needs and continue to push back on the prevalence model)
  • Continue to raise issues of language barriers and the need for language supports for students and families, and adequate funding for supporting students learning English as an additional language
  • Support economic justice for students and families in systemic poverty and ensure that public education addresses barriers for students living in poverty
  • Continue to pushback on the FSA and keep advancing meaningful, teacher-led, fully resourced, and educationally sound assessment, evaluation, and reporting of student progress
  • Prioritize advancing sexual health education, gender equality, LGBTQ2S+ equity and education, and a culture of consent in public education and our union

#6 – Speak up for universal, equitable, inclusive, and fully funded public education for all.

  • Engage with the broader community, families, students, and advocates of public education to launch a broad, grassroots, province-wide discussion on the values of public education
  • Support popular movements for the values of public education – through face-to-face, community-based, and deeply engaging forms of community organizing that build power
  • Work in alliance with the broader community and shift the discussion and politics around public education, widening support and making fully investing in equity and public education a top-of-mind election issue (on a continual and growing basis) for a sizable and committed bloc of the voting public

#7 – Advance racial justice and reconciliation in public education.

  • Commit to ending racism and advancing reconciliation through listening, responding, and acting in solidarity with BIPOC teachers and communities
  • Continue to prioritize advancing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the human rights of all students
  • Increase efforts to increase affirmative action in teacher education for BIPOC teachers, recruitment of BIPOC teachers, and retention of BIPOC teachers (includes increasing spaces for dialogue to recognize and end all barriers to inclusion of BIPOC teachers and perspectives in public education)
  • Advocate for recognition of First Nations land title, working on a government-to-government basis with First Nations on education for all, ending the funding gap between First Nations and other public schools, and developing deeper understanding of how we can all continue to work together, and in support of each other, through mutual respect and reciprocity in our relationships with each other
  • Continue to advocate for more funding to develop resources with First Nation teachers and programs and to encourage the development of curricular supports to help teachers learn about Indigenous perspectives, content, and histories
  • Help develop curriculum and resources for supporting BIPOC students, anti-racist education for all students, and BIPOC content, history, role models, and curriculum for all students
  • Prioritize achieving gains in teacher-counselors for students, trauma-informed teaching and learning, and arts, mental health, student-leadership and cultural programs for students

#8 – Expand inclusion, engagement, accountability, and transparency in the BCTF.

  • To help achieve salary increases and other improvements, develop new approaches to collective bargaining:
    • Adopt a multi-bargaining cycle and strategy
    • Set and achieve specific, measurable, and meaningful improvements across multiple rounds of collective bargaining
    • While continuing democratic and member-led approaches to collective bargaining
    • Build power and lay the groundwork – between rounds of collective bargaining
  • End systemic racism and all other forms of marginalization within the teaching profession, union, and public education system
  • Include and engage all union members in union decisions and actions, from the grassroots up, and support and sustain an even stronger union – fully responsive to meeting the needs of students, families, communities, and teachers throughout B.C.
  • Increase the number of participants from large locals who can attend Zone meetings, forums, issue sessions, and other member-engagement activities in order to increase engagement, represent more viewpoints, and reflect the relative size differences between locals
  • Support increased regional networks and connections between remote and rural locals, to increase engagement, reduce isolation, and help raise issues and priorities that are unique to remote and rural locals
  • Continue to prioritize mentorship of early career professionals, providing equity-seeking teachers with pathways to inclusion and representation at all levels of the union and profession, and removing all barriers to a fully engaged membership and energized profession
  • Bring more members into union activism and leadership, increase accountability and transparency, and broaden engagement at all levels of the union
  • Provide locals with inclusion and engagement grants, provide locals with tools to support accountability and transparency, and develop leadership (at all levels) around the principles of all four of these principles (inclusion, engagement, accountability, and transparency)

Twitter: @tomkertes

About Tom Kertes

Tom is a founding organizer of the Critical Education Project.

Read more about Tom Kertes.

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