Kevin and I attended the BCTF Spring Rep Assembly on the weekend, and I thought I would pass on a few of the more notable items.
We spent the majority of Friday going over the budget for next year. Fortunately we are in a surplus situation which will allow us to rebuild some of our funds (particularly the Collective Bargaining Defence Fund). Although we have a projected surplus, I would not characterize is as being in good financial straights. A continued round of cuts to education mean fewer teachers, and our salaries have not kept pace with inflation. Though we are able to restore some services this year, we are not back to where we have been in the past.
We have agreed to restore the second Zone Meeting this year – this allows all the committee chairs to get training and meet with their colleagues in the other North Island locals. We have also committed to a Public Education Conference, which brings in parents and teachers to work together in defense of public education, and a provincial Social Justice conference.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the BCTF, each member will receive a membership card (something we have not done since the late 80’s).
The union mentorship grant (which we traditionally use to take the VP or other to the Federation Leadership Institute) has been increased to $3500 from $1000. This will allow our local to invest in training of activists that we would not otherwise be able to do. The grant has not seen an increase since 2002.
Next year, all 5 issues of Teacher Magazine will be printed for all members up from the 2 issues that had full circulation this year.
We passed a motion to donate $10,000 to the Red Cross for assistance to the Fort McMurray fire relief fund.
There was much discussion about the curriculum change for next year, with a motion being defeated that we withdraw completely from the process until the government commits to all the resources needed. Although there are compelling reasons for us to consider this move, the prevailing sentiment is that we need to honour the work of our colleagues that have been on the design teams, and stay at the table (so to speak) to make the necessary changes from within. I do believe at some point in the near future that we will be debating this again as there does not appear to be much appetite from the government to provide the resources (people as well as materials) to make the curriculum change truly successful.
There was a wonderful send off for Jim Iker on Friday evening, with a variety of speakers there to “roast” him.
We had a visit from Rob Fleming (NDP Education Critic) on Saturday; though he spoke well, there were only a few salient points I found useful:
– the BCLibs have increased the contingency fund from $500 Million to $1 Billion
– NDP are willing to look at the funding formula and fix it
– NDP are willing to review funding to the elite private schools (not religious ones)
All for now,
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association