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It is regrettable that the voice of teachers will be diminished on the new BC Teachers’ Council, but a new clarity on the body’s mandate is welcome, BC Teachers’ Federation President Susan Lambert said today.

Bill 12, The Teachers Act, repeals the former Teaching Profession Act and dissolves the BC College of Teachers. It will be replaced with a new council with a more focused mandate, including setting standards for certification of teachers, approval of teacher education programs at universities, and adjudication of serious disciplinary matters.

“This new clarity on the mandate of the council is welcomed by the BCTF, although its structures do not address all of the concerns we raised in meetings with Education Minister George Abbott,” Lambert said.

Today’s legislation was prompted by a fact-finder’s report that cited cases of individuals with criminal records being allowed to begin teaching or continue working in the classroom. “The allegation by some that the Federation used its influence on the college to protect unethical teachers is completely unfounded,” Lambert said.

She noted that in a series of meetings with the former and current ministers of education, the BCTF called upon them to investigate the cases cited. This request was turned down each and every time.

“Although the BCTF doesn’t have the ability to investigate these cases ourselves, we do know that at least one was adjudicated during the period when the college was comprised entirely of government-appointed councillors, not BCTF-endorsed ones,” Lambert said.

Teachers hope that the new council and its structures within the Ministry of Education will be able to put these issues in the past and earn public confidence.

“Teachers, more than anyone, are invested in maintaining high standards of professional practice and ethical conduct. It’s in all of our interests for there to be fair, transparent and effective processes to discipline and, if necessary, decertify any teacher who violates the trust that society places in us to safeguard and teach the next generation,” Lambert said.

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For more information, contact Nancy Knickerbocker, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).