One Heck of a September: The Perfect Storm?

In his recent post Difference Between a Bureaucrat and a Teacher thirty-year educator and teacher-librarian extraordinaire, Al Smith, comments that the golden age of education in British Columbia is over. And I don’t think that he’s waxing poetic either. Teachers and more importantly, BC students and the education system, are in for a huge surprise (and not the kind that bring joy and delight either!) come this fall. We are all walking straight into the perfect storm.

The BC liberal government has (again) come late to the international educational discussion still tied up in its fight over the importance of standardized tests and government exams. Intentionally orchestrated or not, the government has dragged its feet into a discussion that has been going on for at least twelve years.

Throw-around terms like “21st century learning” and “personalized learning” seem to hold little meaning for a society when its government attempts to leverage such pedagogical speak for ourely political and capitalistic propaganda. Surely, this is what is unfolding in front of our very own eyes. I mean, isn’t this just the perfect storm for a government with a hidden corporate-supported agenda? Perfect you say? Some of the key elements to the ugly storm a brewin’ include a powerful drive towards a ‘new’ teaching and learning paradiagm; a collective bargaining with BC teachers on the backburner; edu cators voting whether or not to take job action in September (with the potential for an ‘illegal withdrawal of services’), and a looming provincial fall election (many political watchers forsee a move to the polls in early October). September will be the perfect storm. Ah yes, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle brough to bare.

The stress of the unknown educational landscape in British Columbia appears to be turning teachers on each other. A colleague recently made the comment (not sure whether it was to ruffle my feathers) that my “job [as teacher-librarian] probably won’t be aroud in 2 or 3 years, eh?” Now, I might agree with him in this time of fear and uncertainty, but I’m just not too sure if he even really knows (or cares) exactly what my “job” is…

And why my job and not the job of a colleague that really…well, doesn’t do his job all that effectively?

At any rate, I’m not sure how educators can ‘collectively’ negotiate with our employer if we can’t even find the cohesion and strength amongst our own rank and file. We are in trouble.

And what about the new teachers with fresh energy and inspiring ideas? All is not lost, you say. We have the younger generation, you say.

Here’s an excerpt of my reply to Smith’s ‘Bureaucrat’ blog post:

I’m afraid that the government is going after not just teachers in general, but like you mentioned, the professional culture that BC teachers have created is in great peril. Technicians-in-training for sure (unbeknownst to many of us)!
And as you mentioned most of the young teachers really have no idea of how the landscape is quickly tilting against the education profession. And quite honestly, most don’t seem to care or are indifferent. Many are prepared to jump ship when the weather gets rougher–and for several reasons (seniority rules, over-worked and undercompensated, effective government spins to make education issues murky, etc.)–because they are prepared to accept the fact that (unlike most of us) education is not a life-long calling. It’s commitment.

So, the question begs, “Are young teachers as committed to our students as previous generations of educators?”

Part of me can’t blame them for either looking the other way or making plans to hit the life-rafts.
Perhaps the really known ‘unknown’ is that it is going to be one heck of a September. Batten down the hatches, y’all!

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