BC Teachers’ Federation President Glen Hansman on Friday welcomed the news that the provincial government plans to invest in more teacher education spaces to help address the province’s teacher shortage.
Hansman said: “New investment in teacher education programs is an important component of a larger strategy to ensure our schools have all of the classroom teachers, specialists, and teachers teaching on call our students need. The teacher shortage, created and left behind by the previous government’s legal fight against BC teachers, is bigger than this announcement will fix, but the focus on increasing Indigenous teachers and specialist teachers is very welcome. The BCTF will continue to work with the government to implement more of the task force’s recommendations.”
Hansman explained that increasing spaces in teacher education programs is only one part of a broader strategy that is badly needed.
He noted: “Increasing teacher education will help once those individuals complete the programs and get certified, but we need the provincial government to keep moving forward on a strategy to get more teachers and resources into classrooms now.
“British Columbia’s current teacher shortage was a long time in the making and made worse by the previous government’s inaction and legal fight against BC teachers. We know that 16 years of underfunding can’t be fixed overnight, but parents and teachers are increasingly worried that the shortage is negatively affecting students’ learning right now.”
Hansman called on the government to address all the other important recommendations of the task force on teacher recruitment and retention by putting more funding into the education system when the new budget is announced on February 20. The government will also have to address the challenges created by the affordability and housing crisis in this province and the impact that is having on attempts to recruit certified teachers from out of province.
He added: “Right now, across BC, we have school districts hiring uncertified adults to fill teaching vacancies and students with special needs who are losing out on important support because their specialist teachers are getting re-assigned to cover classroom teacher absences. BC needs more qualified specialists, teachers teaching on call, and classroom teachers in our schools right now.
“Some of the proposals the BCTF has been putting forward to the government include housing and moving allowances, mentorship programs, as well as a shortened salary grid to make teachers’ starting wages more competitive with other provinces. Right now, new teachers in BC are the second lowest paid in the country. Recruiting teachers from other provinces will be a tough task as long as wages stay low and the cost of living continues to increase.”