Rally at School Board Inaugural Meeting

Press Release:
December 7, 2011

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On December 8th, at the inaugural meeting for the recently elected Surrey Board of Education trustees, Surrey teachers will be holding a rally and will attend the meeting to show the new Trustees that teachers expect them to take positive action to support public education.

“Trustees are commencing this term in the midst of several critical issues for teachers,” said Denise Moffatt, President of the Surrey Teachers’ Association, “stalled bargaining, a lack of resolution to class size and composition issues, the new Teachers Council and BC’s vague Education Plan.”

In dealing with these issues, relationships will matter. This new term is an opportunity for these elected officials to improve their relationship with teachers, the largest employee group.

“Many teachers feel like their contributions are not respected by our local school board,” said Moffatt. “Trustees are not just stewards. They must be advocates for what is right in public education. Where have their voices been on concession bargaining at the provincial table? What have they done to challenge the lack of consultation with teachers around educational reform? What action have they taken regarding the refusal of government to remedy 2002 legislation that stripped our collective agreement?”

Therefore, the Surrey Teachers’ Association is calling on trustees to address the following priority areas for our members:

• Advocate for the funding and services necessary to support student needs. This includes calling on government to reinstate the 346 teachers cut from Surrey schools and the collective agreement language that protects these service levels.
• Respect and value the contribution of teachers in Surrey by consulting before advocating for / implementing educational change initiatives, such as the government’s proposed “BC Ed Plan.”
• Find local solutions to local issues. Support teachers’ call for greater scope local negotiations, and accept our request to return to the Local Bargaining table which has been refused since June of last school year
• Demand that government provide BCPSEA with a new bargaining mandate that respects teachers and will move bargaining forward. Teachers deserve a fair deal and current BCPSEA demands are “sub zero” – no money and countless concessions.

Teachers are working hard to provide exceptional service to the students in their classrooms. They are persevering despite constant attacks, criticism, and funding cuts. “What we are seeing now is counterproductive. The most successful education systems in the world are built on strong relationships, where teachers are empowered and the profession is respected. Trustees more than anyone should know that,” said Moffatt. “Current government proposals are not supported by research in the field. They are not making evidence-based arguments for changing the education system.”

A strong public education system is the most important investment a society can make and teachers are at the front line of delivering that service. “ We know there is a direct benefit to a community when it invests in education because other costs such as health care, policing, and social services decrease,” said Moffatt.

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For more information media representatives can reach the Surrey Teachers’ Association by calling the office at 604.594.5353. You can also email Denise Moffatt at pres@surreyteachers.org


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