Front page of the poster raising the commotion. On a second page

Local teacher fires back at BCTF over ‘irresponsible’ publication

'Job fairs don’t just appear out of nowhere - teachers organize these things.' - Zoë Baker

  • Nov. 22, 2016 4:00 p.m.

Erin Haluschak

Record staff

A teacher in the Comox Valley is asking the BC Teachers’ Federation to retract a publication which advises teachers to watch for and report military recruiters in schools.

Not only does Zoë Baker call the documents “irresponsible,” she said the “insulting social justice publication” sets up teachers in direct opposition to the armed forces as though it were a menacing force determined to do ill.

As a result of first noticing the document on Remembrance Day as it made its rounds on social media, Baker, who is also a military spouse, created an online petition as a way to turn her anger into action.

“I felt because I come from both places, I should speak up and say something. I know (the BCTF) says it’s (an archived document), but no way on that page does it say (that).”

The poster is apparently designed for high school students, urging them to consider alternatives and ask their families questions such as “Are you going to be worried if I go away?”

A second page advises teachers to “let students know to inform teachers when they are approached by recruiters” and report any recruitment activity to “the union and/or your social justice committee.”

Teachers are advised to “help inform other teachers, parents, your communities and your labour council about this issue,” and encourages them to “call in to television and radio, and write to your local papers to counter military propaganda.”

Baker believes the document was originally created in reaction to a federal Conservative television ad.

“It’s fine to offer more information to an ad for discussion and thought. It’s not OK to produce your own propaganda to counter what you perceive as someone else’s propaganda.”

She notes the military is not aggressive in recruiting, and if recruiters come to schools, it’s because they were invited by staff.

“They’re not wandering around; you don’t need to report recruiters to parents or your union. Teachers are the ones inviting recruiters to the school because they’re the ones running the job fairs. I don’t know if people realize that. Job fairs don’t just appear out of nowhere – teachers organize these things.”

Last week, the official @BCTF Twitter account described the poster as “years old” and confirmed it was an archived document on its website and not in a current campaign.

The second page of the poster shows that it was revised December 2015.

Baker, who moved to the Valley one year ago and is not currently teaching, says she thinks about the stress her children are facing with their father being oversees.

“We can’t call him. My children are young enough that they can’t email with their own accounts. If they went to school and saw that (poster) and started to wonder if their father was doing something evil oversees, I can’t imagine what kind of effect that would have on the stress they already experience. I’m not championing the military … but what I’m saying is what the union did is wrong.”

While Baker doesn’t have a particular goal in mind for the amount of signatures she would like to raise for the petition, she hopes it opens an avenue for discussion. She is also writing a letter to BCTF president Glen Hansman.

Calls to the BCTF and the Comox District Teachers Association for comment were not returned by Record deadline.

– With files from Tom Fletcher

 

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