The Alberni District Teachers’ Union hopes a groundswell will start from a small meeting about the future of public education, president Ken Zydyk said.
A crowd of approximately 30 people attended a public forum on education last Thursday night at the Best Western Barclay Hotel.
Most of those in attendance were teachers, but others hailed from unions such as CUPE, as well as trustee Rosemarie Buchanan from School District 70.
The meeting was a start, Zydyk said resolutely. “This is our first meeting and I feel that it went well.
“We’ve accomplished something when we can get people out,” he said. “Larger movements always start with a small interested group of people.”
The meeting was to ostensibly educate the public about the pending fallout from the labour dispute between teachers and the provincial government.
Bill 22 chokes collective bargaining and worsens learning conditions, he said. The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has started a court action regarding the bill. “But that can take years,” Zydyk said.
The aftershocks are already being felt in the Alberni Valley School District. Teacher Nick Seredick teaches English to a class of 30 and often can’t help all of the students who come to his desk with questions, he said.
Teachers attempted job action last spring but were legislated back to work and have to adhere to strict conditions with stiff fines if they don’t comply.
The ADTU will assess where things are in September when fallout from the legislation will likely start. “There may yet be some programs that will be saved,” Zydyk said.
Such a forum wasn’t held sooner because teachers had explored other options first. Recent reports on staffing numbers and program cuts prompted the call for public action.
The ADTU wants the public to write the provincial government, their MLA and education critic, as well as letters to the editor about the issue. “We need the public’s voice right now,” Zydyk said. Another forum may be scheduled for the fall.