Because I feel that this is obviously an important part of my life and my goal for my blog has always been to present a real Mom's views on life, work, school (university), and everything else, I will write about this too. I will be honest in saying that I am using my blog as a platform to express some things that I feel very strongly about with respect to the value of teachers in the province of Saskatchewan. Moms of two young kids can and should be strong, active voices in their communities and for their professions, especially when it is education. I am very interested in seeing education being valued in this province for my own children's futures.
I have written a couple letters to the Government of Saskatchewan about the current contract negotiations between the Saskatchewan Teacher's Federation and the Government's Bargaining Committee. I would like to publicly acknowledge Mr. Ron Harper for being the only MLA that has sent a response thus far. I have posted a revised version as the original version became rather long. I will also include some relevant websites, photos, and videos.
To Premier Brad Wall and The Government of Saskatchewan,
I am writing with respect to the current efforts of teachers to achieve a fair and satisfactory agreement between Saskatchewan teachers, the Boards of Education and the Government of Saskatchewan. As you know, the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation held a rally in front of the Saskatchewan Legislature Building earlier this month to express our dissatisfaction with the government’s offer of 5.5% over three years. I was one of the teachers standing amongst my professional colleagues asking to be respected and valued by the government that day. We stood together again yesterday and were joined by teachers from all over Saskatchewan who again asked to be respected and valued and compensated for the important work that we do with Saskatchewan’s most valuable natural resource, our children.
At this time, I would like to share my own personal teaching experiences as they are quite different than most teachers in Saskatchewan. I began teaching English as a Foreign Language in Taiwan after I obtained my first degree in Human Kinetics from the University of British Columbia. I had the travel bug and decided to travel, teach and experience life in another country. I came to love Taiwan and, most importantly, I fell in love with teaching. Consequently, I lived in Taiwan for four years where I spent my time teaching English and learning Mandarin Chinese. Teachers in Chinese culture are well-respected and considered prominent members of society. Their value and status in society are undisputed and the teaching profession is among the most admired in China.
When I returned to Canada, my love for teaching led me to the University of Regina where I completed the Bachelor of Education (After Degree) program in 2005. I spent my first two years teaching in rural Saskatchewan elementary schools where I first discovered that teaching is certainly not an 8:00-3:30 job. I also quickly learned that teachers in Saskatchewan do not receive the same respect or status in our society as I had experienced in Taiwan. As a result, it makes our jobs even more difficult. I truly believe that the government can contribute to our perceived value in society by bringing appropriate resources to the bargaining table and showing that we are, in fact, worthy of the investment.
I currently teach in the English as an Additional Language program in Regina and my students come from several different countries. I recently returned to work after a maternity leave so I was just getting to know many of my students this month. During my first week, I asked them to write a letter about themselves to help me get to know them better. I provided them with some guiding questions, one of which was why their family had decided to move to Canada. My students from South Africa, The Philippines, China, Germany, Thailand, and Somalia all wrote the same thing. They wrote that they came to Canada for a better education. Our education system is world renowned. Students from all over the world are coming to Saskatchewan because their families believe we provide the best education. They respect and value the teachers in our province.
Clearly, teachers are providing children and communities across Saskatchewan with valuable services but this is not being recognized by the government in these current negotiations. This is not an issue of supply and demand. This is an issue of respect and value. I am disappointed that the government does not consider education a priority at a time when Saskatchewan is experiencing unprecedented wealth and prosperity. I urge you to bring more resources to the bargaining table so that teachers may continue to do what we love the best - teach the students of this great province. Perhaps we need to embrace the perception of my international students who truly believe that Saskatchewan’s teachers are providing the best education in the world. And perhaps we also need to embrace the Chinese cultural values where teachers are well-respected and considered prominent, revered members of society. So, I ask you, please Invest in Teachers…For our Students, For our Province, For our Future.
Video: Saskatchewan Teacher's March - May 26th
Video: John McGettigan's Address at the SK Teacher's Rally - May 26th
Video: Jim Gallagher's Address at the SK Teacher's Rally - May 26th
Video: Pat Maze's Address at the SK Teacher's Rally - May 26th
Some photos from the rally yesterday:
|Thousands of teachers and supporters at the steps of the Legislature in Regina, SK.|
|Thousands of teachers and supporters walking through Wascana Park on May 26, 2011.|