Keeping it Real…

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The Trouble With Teachers ….

August 21st, 2014 · 124 Comments

It’s the teachers’ fault!

Their problem is … they really care about the kids. The bright students. The kids with extra needs. The kids with ESL challenges.The rest of the class. Oh, and they also care about the quality of education in BC.

Why should they?  Clearly, most of the parents don’t care so much: otherwise, they wouldn’t be so silent; they wouldn’t let the government get away with spending $1,000 a kid LESS than other provinces each year; crowding all kinds of kids into classes at levels already ruled illegal by the Courts (the government is appealing);  and a government that has reigned over sliding educational results year after year… showing BC students are faring poorly, compared to 2000 standards.

The Liberal government’s solution:  bribe parents with $40 a day payoffs per kid  … if they just go along with the government’s attack on the education levels of their children  … so the rest of us … people without kids in the school system, the wealthy and businesses can pay lower taxes and live higher.

And making it all easier … HIGHLY militant teachers’ union officials and activists who almost regularly wastes their own members’ resources and time and squander huge amounts of public sympathy pursuing ridiculous, outrageous demands … that I think NOT EVEN MOST OF THEIR OWN MEMBERS truly believe are affordable, realistic or tolerable.

Welcome to teacher/government negotiations in BC!

Let’s keep it real.  The dispute is EASILY solvable … if the teachers drop their dreamland proposals … like $3,000 a year for EACH teacher for massage therapy, full coverage for  fertility drugs, full benefits for those on long-term disability, EQUAL to all those teachers who are working and full benefits for an entire year for dependents of teachers who die,  topping up maternity benefits to FULL salary levels for the first 17 weeks and 60 per cent fror the remaining 35 weeks.   Oh, and give fathers FULL salaries for two weeks leave and then to top up to 60 per cent if they too want to take another 35 weeks leave.   And, on top all this ….  a $5,000 bonus to each teacher, just for agreeing to a new contract.

In my limited past union service (Vice-President of CEP Local M-814) I NEVER heard of such expansive … and expensive … demands ever being proposed in any of our negotiations. Or in any other private sector negotiations.

Of course, if the teachers won these benefits, other public sector unions would surely demand the same coverages …not just from the provincial government, but regional and municipal authorities as well … not to mention Crown corporations, BC Hydro, various police and fire forces etc. etc.

The cost to the public would be BILLIONS!  So let’s drop those unrealistic demands right away … this time around  and until the economy is doing MUCH better (maybe after all those liquid LNG plants are built!).

The teachers need to concentrate on fair wage increases … for now and hopefully the next three or four years. Period!

And forget the kids.

The teachers should continue to fight the government’s appeal against staffing levels previously agreed to and then abandoned by the Liberals … but let the parents carry the fight against our lowering educational standards as a result of larger classes,  extra time/resources taken up by ESL and special needs kids and cancelled/cut extracurricular activities. They should STOP spending their own money on classroom resources and materials if school boards have been squeezed so hard they can’t provide needed items.

Let parents fight that battle with the government … and THEY WILL once they see how stressed and how dumb their kids are turning out as a result of the government’s cheapskate funding levels for education.

I dare say the politicians will respond faster …and more agreeably to angry voters …  oops, parents …  than to teachers making all kinds of excessive demands.

And parents should start that fight NOW … not by concentrating their frustrations and anger against the teachers … but in the direction of  government MLAs, Education Minister Peter Fassbender and Premier Christy Clark.

If THE Liberals have the money to pay parents $40 a day for EVERY kid in EVERY class (do the math!)  … they HAVE the money to come up with a fair wage increase and agreement to get the teachers back into classrooms and the kids  back into school for the next four years and maybe even longer.

Harv Oberfeld

→ 124 CommentsTags: British Columbia

Mount Polley: There MUST Be a FULL Judicial Inquiry!

August 17th, 2014 · 31 Comments

I am not normally a big fan of judicial inquiries.

They often tend to do little more than provide soapboxes for opposing political factions; are exploited by community groups and activists more interested in advancing their own agendas than getting to any truth; and,  take so long to carry out that, by the time any recommendations are published, most of the public rarely remember or care anymore what it was really all about, so governments and agencies feel little real pressure to pay attention to any costly recommendations.

Too many judicial enquiries do is ENRICH the dozens of lawyers who work on them, provide many man-years  (or women-years) of work for legal staffs, bureaucrats, court staff, community activists … and generous payouts for expenses (including hotels, meals, travel)  … often for their supporters and relations … all of it at public expense, of course.

And they give the media exactly what too many of them want these days … hours of easy stories and Canadian content filler delivered up on a platter, for not just  days or weeks, but for months …even years.  Easy clips from people  going in, coming out and lots of quotes …. again dished out by lawyers, politicians and advocacy groups … all pushing their particular positions.  Sure easier than doing any REAL investigative research or stories.

Meanwhile, the victims and the real issues get lost in the shuffle.

It all costs MILLIONS … again paid for by YOU … but often yielding nothing but MOUNTAINS  of paper  … most of which will just gather dust.

Who needs it!

Well, in the case of Mount Polley … I hate to admit it …but I believe WE do.

Whenever such a HUGE environmental breach takes place  (and don’t let the corporate and government spin doctors minimize it) I believe the primary objective of most of those responsible is NOT to find out what happened, but to cover ass!

Cover the ass of the company; cover the asses of engineers and designers who screwed up; cover the asses of the executives who may have ignored warnings or failed to implement recommendations; cover the asses of provincial bureaucrats who  slipped up; and cover the asses of politicians who may have failed in their responsibilities to adequately enforce rules, failed to adequately fund inspection operations; or, failed to adequately pursue actions against any company involved, because of party donations.

We just don’t know what REALLY happened that led at the Mount Polley mine/tailing spill … and ONLY a Judicial Inquiry ..where people are FORCED TO TESTIFY UNDER OATH on penalty of possible imprisonment for COVER-UPS and PERJURY will get to the truth.

Any other kind of investigation, internal inquiry, questioning … especially behind closed doors, but even in the open …will see nothing more, I believe, than a whole lot of cover-our-asses interpretations, explanations and rationalizations.

Let’s keep it real: put yourself in the position of any mine official or government bureaucrat, with a well-paying job, a sizeable home mortgage, kids to raise etc. etc.  Would YOU really stick your neck out in any kind of informal questioning or investigation and POINT THE FINGER at YOUR boss and say “He (or She) did it!”

But on the stand, in a judicial inquiry, under penalty of heavy fines, imprisonment or even loss of licences … you would NO DOUBT be much more inclined to tell the truth …the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

It’s the ONLY way to go … if the WHOLE RUTH about what caused the disaster at Mount Polley and what the REAL IMPACT will be on the environment is to ever come out.

Harv Oberfeld

→ 31 CommentsTags: British Columbia · Media