Ten Hours a Year

Well, the news coverage about this week’s Supreme Court decision continues, and although I don’t really want to get political here, I have to. Just a little.

So stay with me.

This was twenty-five minutes of my day today:


Yep, that’s a hole punch. And those are French workbooks.

And this has to do with politics.

Part of the ruling from this week stated that:

“One of the problems was that the government representatives were preoccupied by another strategy,” [the judge] wrote. “Their strategy was to put such pressure on the union that it would provoke a strike by the union. The government representatives thought this would give government the opportunity to gain political support for imposing legislation on the union.” (Source)

One of the ways the government tried to gain public support leading up to and during the eventual work stoppage? By citing tests results showing that BC students were ranking among the top students in Canada and the world. The message this sent? Everything’s fine. Teachers are whining.

The BCTF, however, remained firm that BC students were (and are) excelling despite government cuts, a sentiment that Jim Iker, BCTF President, echoed in a recent Vancouver Sun opinion piece. He stated that “it is because of the support of parents and the hard work of teachers, who are doing more with less, that B.C.’s public education system is still as strong as it is.” (Source)

But of course, it’s an opinion piece.

It’s not fact.

But those workbooks? Those are fact. Those are me doing more with less.

Back when I was in high school, we had French workbooks too. They were pretty books, with a spine and all, ordered from the textbook publisher. We paid a $15 or so course fee for them.

But we can’t charge for course materials anymore. A number of years ago, a court case decided that school districts are required to provide the necessary items for the courses they offer. But the province wasn’t required to increase funding in order to pay for them. So they didn’t.

Instead, funding progressively decreased in relation to inflation.

So schools can’t pay for the real books that we used to have. Instead, each school has a set of reproducible masters that get sent out for photocopying. But it costs more to hole punch them. More than the schools can afford.

This leaves me with two options. I can either spend a half-hour of my own time before or after school hole-punching roughly 100 cahiers, three times a semester (that’s six hours, when I don’t have a prep block), or I can waste 20-30 minutes of class time while students hole-punch their own books. And I’m not even exaggerating about how long it takes for a class to punch their own books. I’ve tried it.

So really, I only have one option.

I spend ten hours a year hole-punching workbooks.

I spend more than one full workday hole-punching because the schools can’t afford to buy books. And they can’t afford to hole-punch copies. And my students can’t afford wasted learning time.

So yeah, Jim Iker’s opinion piece is just that: his opinion. And it’s biased. It’s pro-teacher.

But those workbooks? They’re just work. For me. So my students get the best education I can give them. And that, folks, is a fact.