It’s war and both sides know how to play this game of funds.
Teachers initiate rotating strikes; employers, in turn, plan to lock them out and reduce pay by 10 per cent for the work loss. Media coverage is thick, on-screen blasts and visible displays of protest butt-up against government officials and talking heads. The students, well they collectively fall in behind, awaiting a verdict on when normalcy in the broken system will return.
And the system is indeed broken. If the opportunity to leverage the educational needs of children with increased wage demands exists, there’s something wrong. Worst, there appears no way to shave the billion dollar costs currently associated with the K-12 public school system as the only way forward is to increase and fatten what’s already there.
The government recently pitched a 7.3 per cent wage increase over six years. The B.C. teachers returned with a 13.7 per cent wage increase demand over a four-year period. According to Peter Cameron, the government’s lead negotiator, this would amount to four times more than any other union agreement currently in place.
The government most recently shelled out $4.5 billion to the K-12 system. But aside from economic demands, control and support to manage class size and composition are additional points of contention. These points, while valid, only add to the cost and while teachers’ demands have merit, in the current economic conditions, they aren’t realistic.
It’s the entitlement that strikes me, and without any context or full consideration provided. The teachers—BCTF—point to salary grids that place B.C. in the lower-third within a national pay scale of teachers. If you were to view the document you would note that Category 5 teachers in B.C. make, at minimum, $48,083 (in Vancouver), up to a maximum of $74,535. Category 6 teachers would start at $52,823 (in Vancouver) and top out at $81,488. Not too shabby.
But, what locations round out the top four? Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yellowknife and Yukon, respectively. Lets ponder why? Beauty comes at a price. B.C. is a nice place to hunker down in, especially in the summer so this makes the job market that much more attractive for teachers than the aforementioned arctic locales.
Further down the list at the fifth, sixth and seventh spots are three Alberta cities with wages in the $61,000 range. This is a critical point of comparison made by teachers and the BCTF, but without any context.
Alberta, even with its vast oil resources, ran a deficit for six consecutive years only just reporting a consolidated $1.1 billion surplus for this year. And even still, out of control spending on programs and public sector compensation (Read: Fraser Institute Report), accompanied by the recent bitumen bubble, has put the West’s wealthiest province into an accumulated $14.5 billion debt, and critics fear this hole will only deepen by 2017. In such an economic environment, heavy cutbacks will ensue.
Flip to B.C. and the situation isn’t any prettier, in fact it’s worse. According to the B.C. Fiscal and Debt Summary for 2014/15 to 2016/17, the projected provincial debt is expect to rise to $68.9 billion. Granted the same document states the rate of growth on the debt is projected to decline, the debt load is daunting to think, especially as a young taxpayer.
So how is there room for a nearly 14 per cent wage increase to teachers, plus additional support staff and proposed class size reductions (which will certainly result in more teachers being employed)? There isn’t, and the BCTF know this, or ought to. Quite simply, the aim eye, land on the clouds approach is unrealistic and comes off as greedy.
Furthermore, you cannot point to provincial sphere’s of fiscal responsibility and demand similar benefits. Provincial economies function and react differently. The strength of provincial budgets depends on a myriad of factors, some common, others unique. In short, it’s difficult to have a uniform pay scale in a federalist country, so vast and varied.
Another condition high on the BCTF agenda, especially with the recent ruling, is class size. There’s no question reduced class sizes will result in a better, more manageable, environment for teachers and for some students. But aside from the logistical nightmare of creating additional space and staff, there is a paradox to this argument that is bothersome.
Teachers are often first to state that a student’s educational outcome is indeterminate. Extraneous factors such as home life, personal learning disabilities, motivation, character are just some examples of challenges that can affect a student’s ability to achieve academic success. No one can disagree with this.
Teachers thus argue in favour of a professional growth model over punitive measures based on student success. So if this is the case, then a reduction in class size shouldn’t really matter. Some students will succeed and others still won’t—the subjectivity of life.
What’s clear is the teachers strive for a better working environment along with a 13.7 per cent wage increase and additional support for those oddly composited classes. Even meeting these demands in the middle would still place a greater burden on an increasing debt-load and the bitter distaste from all of this isn’t just from the spin coming from both ends, but that any sort of economic gain to the public union is footed by society’s hard-earned dollars. And the people on the other side of the negotiating table, well, it’s no different there. That’s what’s most annoying about this seemingly relentless dispute. It’s a game of funds and the taxpayers are made to play and pick sides when in the end it’s taxpayer money on the line.
Surrey’s Sullivan Heights Secondary opens new expansion for incoming students
Students at Sullivan Heights Secondary will be learning in 28 new classrooms this school year. Construction on a four-storey, $34.3-million expansion has finished and is ready to welcome students for the fall semester.
“Our board is so excited to welcome Sullivan Heights students into this new addition,” said Laurie Larsen, chair of the Surrey Board of Education, in a press release. “Students and families in the community have been waiting patiently for this additional space, which will allow staff and students to move out of a portable and into a bright, open, and engaging learning space.”
The expansion includes a new outdoor basketball court alongside a gym and a connector to the existing building, so there is a shared main entry and admin workplace. There are also additions to align with 21st-century learning objectives like breakout spaces, education preparation areas, lifestyle labs, a science super lab, large multi-purpose spaces that can be used by the community after hours, and a group of computer labs organized to maximize collaboration and innovation.
This new space brings the total number of classrooms at Sullivan up to 68, the most of any school in the district, and will provide seating for up to 1,700 students.
The expansion has been needed for a while—the school had a capacity of 1,000 students but enrolled 1,646 students in October 2021.
The high school was using 14 portables to accommodate all the students, but those will now be removed.
This expansion will also allow Sullivan to move away from the staggered scheduling system it was forced to adopt to accommodate the growing number of students.
In the same press release, principal David Baldasso said, “This 700-seat addition means that we are no longer on an extended day, students and staff will more easily be able to collaborate, and extracurricular activities are no longer impacted by the length of the day. These new modern learning spaces such as the tech lab, maker spaces and foods labs will also allow us to offer more choice and opportunities to students for years to come.”
Surrey Libraries Offers Access to O’Reilly eBooks and Videos
Surrey Libraries is excited to announce the addition of O’Reilly eBooks to its list of online resources. This platform offers over 35,000 eBooks and 30,000 hours of video courses on technology, business, design, science, engineering, travel, hobbies, health and more, all free with a Surrey Libraries card!
O’Reilly has books and videos for makers, gamers and tinkerers. There are more than 100 hobbyist titles including a STEAM Lab for Kids and The Lego Build-It Book, Volumes 1 & 2. More than 900 books from the “For Dummies” series are included, as well as over 150 titles on job-seeking and career development.
The resource also has technology learning paths like SQL Fundamentals – SQL for Data Analysis and Database Design, case studies like “Pinterest’s Journey to the Cloud,” and countless hours of video instruction on topics like Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Linux Fundamentals, or Amazon Web Services.
We’re excited to welcome you back to our branches! Check our website for information on hours and available services and what we’re doing to keep everyone safe.
Canada’s Top Digital Marketing School Partners with MNBC to Launch Scholarships
Métis Nation BC and Jelly Academy collaborated in order to provide growth within New Collar Employment for Indigenous people and together provided 20 scholarships to Jelly Academy’s digital marketing course. Thanks to this partnership, there will be more Indigenous people with the skills and know-how when it comes to online and digital marketing.
The Indigenous skills training that have previously been available have typically focused on great blue collar jobs such as construction and trades, but this collaboration provides a chance to diversify the available training for Indigenous people with a new focus within varying industries.
Increased demand for digital marketing
Online marketing has had a huge rise in demand especially since COVID-19 and the increased job opportunities opening up in Canada. Indeed reports that by February 2021, jobs in media, marketing, and communications jobs had clicks higher than the economy average per posting, which is why having the necessary skills and training will give job seekers an advantage. Additionally, Indeed reported 28.9% job growth for digital advertising during a forecast period of 2019-2024.
Jelly Academy has been operating for 5 years with over 600 grads with a successful hiring rate. Over 82% of grads who come with an existing employment get a raise or promotion within 6 months of graduating the course and over 94% of grads who are students or without employment get a job within 4 months of graduation. This is due to in-depth training within the course as well as the additional skill-enhancing certifications provided through Jelly Academy.
The program focuses on equipping students with the certificates that hiring managers from agencies and individual brands are looking for. Jelly Academy grads will leave the course with evergreen Hootsuite, Google, SEMRush and Facebook certifications that each have transferable skills.
While these additional certifications can be taken online through providers such as Udemy; data shows about 96% of Udemy students don’t finish a course whereas an official curriculum from Jelly Academy will aid students in completing relevant courses.
By providing these new scholarships for a course that has a successful hiring rate, it allows for further career opportunities for Indigenous members of Métis Nation BC.
Jelly Academy was created by industry expert, Darian Kovacs, in order to have a course that provided the foundation in digital marketing. The course is taught by other industry professionals who provide clear understanding in online marketing topics such as social media, PR, SEO, Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Facebook Ads. Learn more about Jelly Academy here.
Surrey Students Awarded Scholarships, New Scholarship Created By Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation.
CLOVERDALE, BC: In June 2020, while the world came to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair postponed, one of the things that didn’t stop was the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation annual scholarship. Seven grade 12 students from across the city of Surrey were awarded $1000.00 scholarships for post-secondary education by the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation.
“As a Board we collectively agreed to proceed with awarding scholarships during the pandemic, whether there was a rodeo or not, because people are in a time of financial need more than ever, and this is not a time to hold back, but to give and lend a helping hand”, says Foundation Chair Nicole Reader.”
The recipients, all of whom were part of the graduating class of 2020, will use their $1000.00 scholarships for a variety of post secondary institutions across British Columbia.
The 2020 Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Foundation recipients:
- Vincent Labador – Johnston Heights Secondary
- Nisha Niijar – Fleetwood Park Secondary
- Aashna Thapar – North Surrey Secondary
- Natasha Kalinic – Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
- Alexander Thornton – Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
- Taya Suttill – Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
- Skye Graham – Clayton Heights Secondary
“Each of these graduates are incredibly deserving of these awards,” says Foundation Chair Nicole Reader. “The entire community should be proud of these young people.”
The foundation adjusted its scholarship criteria, so applicants did not require having previous volunteer experience at the Cloverdale Rodeo in order to be eligible, as long as they had volunteer experience with another organization.
The Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation will also be awarding scholarships this year under its new criteria. The application deadline for the 2021 scholarships is Friday, May 21st, 2021.
Scholarship applications can be found here.
Not only has the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation continued to support the youth community throughout the pandemic, but the organization has also been provided the opportunity to establish an additional scholarship through its organization called The Isabella Olson Scholarship Award “Rising Above”.
The “Rising Above” scholarship was established in loving memory of a Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary student, Isabella Olson, on behalf of her loving family. Isabella was an extraordinary and inspirational young individual who strived to ‘Rise Above’ the various obstacles she faced while always remaining determined to succeed.
To honour Isabella’s legacy a $2,000.00 scholarship has been created to recognize an inspiring Lord Tweedsmuir grade 12 student who is “Rising Above” obstacles, whether personal, mental health, bullying, or family related complications.
A student who has the determination to continue doing well in school, who may participate in school activities community services and/or may have work experience.
“Isabella’s inspiring spirit was a source of strength to all who knew her, and it is our esteemed honour to be able to present this award and assisting inspiring students in achieving their dreams, says Foundation Chair Reader.”
The application deadline for the 2021 Isabella Olson Scholarship Award “Rising Above” is Friday, May 21st, 2021.
Scholarship application can be found here.
Fossil Discovery Deepens Snakefly Mystery
Fossil discoveries often help answer long-standing questions about how our modern world came to be. However, sometimes they only deepen the mystery—as a recent discovery of four new species of ancient insects in British Columbia and Washington state is proving.
The fossil species, recently discovered by paleontologists Bruce Archibald of Simon Fraser University and Vladimir Makarkin of the Russian Academy of Sciences, are from a group of insects known as snakeflies, now shown to have lived in the region some 50 million years ago.
The findings, published in Zootaxa, raise more questions about the evolutionary history of the distinctly elongated insects and why they live where they do today.
Snakeflies are slender, predatory insects that are native to the Northern Hemisphere and noticeably absent from tropical regions. Scientists have traditionally believed that they require cold winters to trigger development into adults, restricting them almost exclusively to regions that experience winter frost days or colder. However, the fossil sites where the ancient species were found experienced a climate that doesn’t fit with this explanation.
“The average yearly climate was moderate like Vancouver or Seattle today, but importantly, with very mild winters of few or no frost days,” says Archibald. “We can see this by the presence of frost intolerant plants like palms living in these forests along with more northerly plants like spruce.”
The fossil sites where the ancient species were discovered span 1,000 kilometers of an ancient upland from Driftwood Canyon in northwest B.C. to the McAbee fossil site in southern B.C., and all the way to the city of Republic in northern Washington.
According to Archibald, the paleontologists found species of two families of snakeflies in these fossil sites, both of which had previously been thought to require cold winters to survive. Each family appears to have independently adapted to cold winters after these fossil species lived.
“Now we know that earlier in their evolutionary history, snakeflies were living in climates with very mild winters and so the question becomes why didn’t they keep their ability to live in such regions? Why aren’t snakeflies found in the tropics today?”
Pervious fossil insect discoveries in these sites have shown connections with Europe, Pacific coastal Russia, and even Australia.
Archibald emphasizes that understanding how life adapts to climate by looking deep into the past helps explain why species are distributed across the globe today, and can perhaps help foresee how further change in climate may affect that pattern.
“Such discoveries are coming out of these fossil sites all the time,” says Archibald. “They’re an important part of our heritage.”
About Simon Fraser University
As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change.
We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems.
With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities—Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey—SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 37,000 students. The university now boasts more than 165,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.
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