The B.C. teachers union is slamming a provincial government proposal to pay individual teachers more if they have larger classes.
The idea is contained in Bill 22, the legislation the government has brought in to force an end to the long-running teachers contract dispute.
It calls for teachers of Grade 4 to Grade 7 to receive $2,500 a year for every extra child beyond the usual 30 to a classroom that they have to teach, starting next year.
Teachers who teach several courses a day would receive an extra $312 per year for every extra student beyond the standard 30 to a class in their courses.
B.C. Teachers Federation president Susan Lambert calls the plan appalling and unethical, saying it treats students as a commodity to be traded or bartered.
She says teachers have been trying for years to reduce class size to help children, and paying more money to instructors with more students wouldn't improve learning conditions.
Lambert says Education Minister George Abbott is reported as saying paying teachers extra if they have more than 30 students would encourage school boards to reduce large classes.
She says that would be using students as pawns to put pressure on school boards to rob funds from somewhere else to keep class sizes down.
Lambert and Abbott also locked horns over the issue of report cards and whether or not parents would receive any indication of how their children had performed earlier in the school year, or whether the next report cards would be the only ones filled out by teachers this year.
Legislation passage delayed
Bill 22 is still being debated in the B.C. legislature, and indications are that the NDP will use procedural tactics to extend debate as long as it can.
It could still pass by March 16, the Friday before March Break.
The bill would outlaw any further job action by teachers until Aug. 31 and calls for the appointment of a mediator, although wage demands would not be dealt with in the mediation.
Teachers are asking for a 15-per-cent increase over three years, but the government has steadfastly refused to consider any increases in the cost of a teachers’ contract.
B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said last week that any wage increase for teachers would trigger stipulations in other public sector agreements that would allow government employee unions to re-open the issue of wages, potentially costing taxpayers billions of dollars.
Some 41,000 teachers staged a high-profile three-day strike Monday through Wednesday, marked by rallies throughout the province, but the government has not budged from its intention to see Bill 22 passed.
A map showing the average starting salary for teachers in Canada is given below.
With files from The Canadian Press
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