Legislation left teachers with little choice

Recent editorial insulting to teachers who give so much for their students

I’d like to respond to the editorial in your paper (Western, March 16) in which there are several vitriolic statements. As well, I’d like to extend an invitation to both the author of the editorial and Mr. Thomsen, who wrote a letter published in your paper on the same date.

It is with an enormously heavy heart that teachers withdraw from extra-curricular activities. Many of these teachers have invested decades of volunteer time into countless activities. As well, many of these same teachers you accuse of “using kids” have children in the public school system.

Example: Two coaches, one with over 25 years experience and the other with 17, have been looking forward to coaching their own children for years and that will not happen. They have withdrawn. These coaches have spent thousands of hours before school, after school and on weekends away from their own families, for the love of the kids and the game.

Example: Phantom of the Opera, Once Upon A Mattress and countless other drama productions that take up ridiculous numbers of hours to run. All of this work, unpaid, but done for the joy of the kids and the work.

Why would we withdraw these activities? If anyone believes it is to leverage the government into agreeing to a raise in salary, then they’ve not only misunderstood teachers, but they’re insulting every one of us.

We’ve done this in protest to Bill 22 and what it will do to an already underfunded education system with countless students not receiving the support they need.

We have no other avenue. Perhaps the author of the editorial believes we should go on full strike and face the $475/day fines? That wouldn’t serve students’ educational needs. Isn’t the primary goal of public education an education?

I find it incredibly short-sighted that the author never makes mention that teachers will be working under very difficult conditions just to ensure that students get the best instruction that they can get.

But, instead of mentioning that, you smear these hard-working people because they are taking a stand. If someone isn’t happy about this decision, be assured, teachers are not happy that it has come to this either.

Provide an option that shows some respect for education, for students, the people, the professionals, the volunteers that teachers are and we will gladly co-operate.

In closing, an invitation: should either the editorial’s author or Mr. Thomsen care to go to work with a teacher and spend the day in the classroom, the gym, the playground and then sit with them as they mark and prepare for the next day, I would be happy to arrange such an opportunity. After that school day is done, and the marking and planning complete, I’ll provide each of you with a list of community groups that are in need of volunteers.

Walk a mile …

Kevin Epp, president


Okanagan-Skaha Teachers’ Union