Teachers across BC are shocked and disappointed to read the report released by the Ministry of Education on the current state of the College of Teachers.
The report, entitled A College Divided and written by government appointee Don Avison, is highly biased and politicized, said Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation. “It’s laced with unsubstantiated allegations and continues a sorry history of friction within the College of Teachers.” Lambert said that teachers have always been committed to rigorous criteria for the self-regulation of their profession and take their responsibilities for the safety and well-being of students extremely seriously.
“Teachers care about kids. That’s why we go into the profession, and that’s why we must do everything possible to ensure that the high standards parents and teachers expect can be upheld in our schools,” she said. Lambert pointed out that the report was sparked by erroneous allegations that the BCTF had been interfering unduly in discipline matters before the college; specifically allegations that 271 “person complaints” had not been properly addressed. In fact, as the report states, “many of these complaints had been reviewed by the registrar and had been found to be either beyond the council’s jurisdiction or not sufficient to warrant ‘further action’.”
Lambert said that: “In a meeting with BCTF leaders, Don Avison clearly and emphatically told us he found no evidence to support the allegation that the BCTF interfered with proper discipline processes.”
There’s a long and fractious history behind this report, including then Education Minister Christy Clark’s unilateral firing of the entire elected college council in 2003, replacing them with hand-picked government appointees. “Teachers are committed to maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and quality in our public schools. We did it before the college ever came into being, and we continue to be committed to this principle,” Lambert said.
The report outlines four possible options for the college: the status quo, a substantial reorganization, creation of a new teacher certification board, or it being subsumed into the Ministry of Education. The BCTF does not favour one option over another.
If the college were to be disbanded, there are critical functions that would have to be maintained: approving teacher education programs, issuing teaching certificates, dealing with disciplinary matters, and revoking the right to teach when warranted. Lambert said that the BCTF remains open to full discussions with all partners towards creating a culture of respectful decision-making on these difficult issues.