BCTF self-policing ineffective

In hindsight, it was only a matter of time before a B.C. government moved to curb the power of teachers.

In hindsight, it was only a matter of time before a B.C. government moved to curb the power of teachers in a body that regulates their conduct.

The Teachers Act, introduced last week by Education Minister George Abbott, repeals the former Teaching Profession Act and dissolves the BC College of Teachers.

Under Bill 12, it would be replaced by a new council that would set standards for teacher certification and adjudicate serious disciplinary matters.

A report last year by then-deputy minister Don Avison cited three examples of teachers permitted to continue teaching in spite of serious misconduct of which the College of Teachers was aware.

As reported by Vancouver Sun education reporter Janet Steffenhagen:

• A former teacher, convicted of a series of sexual assaults on his students, applied to have his teaching certificate returned. A panel of College members, minimizing the severity of his offences, certified him fit to return to the classroom.

• A convicted drug trafficker, having served six years on narcotics charges, received a teaching certificate from the College.

• The College decided an ex-lawyer, who resigned from the profession after forging court documents to mislead his own client, met the necessary professional standard to begin his new career as a teacher.

Just as the RCMP has proved repeatedly that it does a poor job of policing its own, a BCTF-dominated College of Teachers has likewise not inspired confidence.

By comparison, the BC Press council has an equal number of journalists and non-journalists to rule on complaints against B.C. newspapers.

and BCTF president Susan Lambert has denied the union used its influence on the College to protect unethical teachers.

Nonetheless, although Bill 12 provocatively appeared during a BCTF labour dispute, allowing only one BCTF member on future disciplinary panels would go a long way to ensuring that and restoring public trust in the process.


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