November 26, 2015

Poverty report card points to lack of action and caring

First Call








It comes as no surprise to many teachers, especially those working in schools with students from low-income families, that one in five BC children are hungry, growing up in poverty and living in precarious housing. On November 24, First Call, a child and youth advocacy coalition, released their annual report on child poverty in BC. The news wasn't good. First Call has tracked child poverty in our province for over two decades and the poverty rate has remained disturbingly high.

At 20.4% (1 in 5 children), BC's child poverty rate is higher than the Canadian average of 19% and represents 167,810 children, using the most recent data from 2013. More than half (50.3%) of all children living in lone-parent families, the vast majority of them single-mother families, are living in poverty, compared to 13% for children in couple families.

Reversing widespread poverty requires policy changes and social investments from our provincial and federal governments. The BC Child Poverty Report Card includes a list of recommendations that will make a real difference to the size and depth of BC's child and family poverty problem. They are also asking that the public send Christy Clark this action email urging her and the Liberal government to move on these recommendations now. Kids and their families simply can't wait any longer for a poverty-reduction strategy.

MyEd BC shutdown prompts Twitter storm

MyEd BC was shut down from November 6-12 for system maintenance. The timing could not have been worse as teachers were scrambling to complete report cards. Some teachers took to the Twittersphere to share their experiences with this temperamental and unreliable technology. The BCTF is collecting teachers' stories and will once again raise this matter and push for permanent solutions when Federation leaders meet with the Minister of Education next week.

Join the global climate march

Climate MarchAlong with many other unions, as well as civic, justice, and faith organizations, the BCTF has endorsed the Global Climate March taking place in communities and cities throughout the world on November 29. The marches will take place in conjunction with the critically important United Nations summit on climate change in Paris. The objective is to show world leaders that they must find fair solutions to climate change and ever increasing carbon emissions. After the terror attacks, French authorities have prohibited organizers from staging the march in Paris, so it's all the more important that people turn out in massive numbers everywhere else. Find out what events are taking place in your community and consider adding your voice to this growing international movement. 

BC Auditor General identifies continued problems with supports for Aboriginal students

ReportA couple of weeks ago, the BC Auditor General released a comprehensive report on whether the Ministry of Education led the school system to meet government's commitment to close the gaps in education outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. While the Auditor General noted some improvements and recognized the collaboration between the province and various stakeholder groups in this area, she found significant problems-many of which have been persistent for decades, including a “racism of low expectations” in many school districts around the province.

In particular, the Auditor General confirmed a very serious problem that the BCTF, the BC School Trustees Association and the First Nations Education Steering Committee raised with the Ministry last spring-that is, the disproportionate number of Evergreen Certificates being given to Aboriginal students every year, despite the fact that they do not qualify for such a certificate unless they have a special education designation.

Here is the recommendation carried at the 2015 BCTF Annual General Meeting:

“That the Federation demand that the Ministry investigate the increasing number of students (including a disproportionate number of Aboriginal students) without special education designations who are provided Evergreen Certificates from school districts, contrary to Section 3 of the Student Credentials Order.”  Correspondence was sent to the previous Minister of Education in the spring.

The Federation is pleased to see not only that the Auditor General has looked specifically at this issue and made some strongly worded recommendations, but also that the Ministry has already committed to addressing the problem.

The Federation will continue to work with the other education partner groups to address the system's failure to address the education needs of all Aboriginal students, and to do our part as a union in supporting our members in this area. 

BCTF signs on to national blueprint to address violence against women

white dayNovember 25 began the 16 Days of Action for Ending Violence Against Women. The Canadian Network of Women's Shelters and Transition Houses (CNWSTH) in collaboration with over 20 partners has developed a Blueprint for Canada's National Action Plan to actively and comprehensively address violence against women. The level of violence that women and girls experience in Canada has changed little over the past two decades, and current responses have failed to significantly lower the levels of violence. To date, the Blueprint has been endorsed by the BCTF as well as over 180 organizations across the country. 

Get active in your union, consider joining this committee

The Environmental Justice Action Group, a working group of the BCTF Committee for Action on Social Justice, has one vacancy for a one-year term. Consider applying for this committee by December 8, 2015, if you are interested in environmental justice issues.

Teachers required for classroom-based assessment committee

The BC Teachers' Federation is seeking 12 public school teacher representatives to serve on the Ministry of Education's Provincial Classroom Assessment Development Team. Find out more information here

Do you have cartoonists in your classroom?

cartoonistThe Scholastic Art and Writing awards (not the Scholastic book company), started in 1923, have added a new category for editorial cartoons/illustration/animation. Three students, including Canadians, can win a $1,000 scholarship. Check out criteria and deadlines here