In 3 ½ minutes it dramatizes what has transpired between
government and B.C. teachers for the past twelve years.The same actor plays each role. It has comic
value. It also sympathizes with justice. Regardless of whether you may agree or disagree
with the BCFT salary demands or other contractual requests, this video address
the crux of the issue in failed negotiation historically and presently. It
tells the truth.
First the good news. Ayn is home and happy. I’ll get to the
stupid news soon enough.
Amie and Derek, Ayn’s mom and dad, are no longer a couple,
yet there is mutual cooperation with respect to Ayn, and they will each enjoy
having Ayn live with them at agreed upon times. Recently when she was with
Derek, Ayn ran to the computer and logged on to YouTube to find the concluding
theme song from Stuart Little, “Home.” She played it over and over as she
smiled continuously and hugged her two brothers and her daddy.
A family is happy now. So is everyone in her immediate
family and extended family as well and almost 4,000 people who have been her
supporters on her three-year-old Facebook page entitled, ‘Help Bring Little
Autistic Girl Back to Daddy.” Three years, that’s how long she was gone.
Neither she nor her family did anything wrong in terms of violation or
negligence or abandonment. In June 2011 it would have been imprudent to even
accuse Derek of carelessness, because he surrounded her by a tall back yard
fence and was watchful as a parent can be, and she playfully scaled the barrier
and wandered down the street to a neighbour’s home. He couldn’t leave his two
other children, sons, one of whom is also autistic. His call to 911 led to an
alert that put an RCMP eye-in-the-sky and on the ground searchers. Three hours
later Ayn was found in a nearby neighbour’s yards, unharmed and content. The
father daughter reunion lasted only hours before the Ministry of Children
social workers showed up. Rather than offering authentic assistance to a dad
whom they deemed was overwhelmed by his parental responsibility, this officious
crew removed her from her daddy and brothers and threw her confused spirit and
mind into a distressing whirlwind of confusion and fear controlled for too long
thereafter by a surplus of anti-psychotic drugs.
She had seven caseworkers during these past three years. This
family waited for a social worker with a keen sense of what was right to at
last make her return happen. Thrilled, delightful, overjoyed are words that
understate their states of mind, so try euphoric and rapturous. Try FIFA world
cup crazy as a descriptor of this family’s emotions. They deserve to be happy.
Okay, I promised you stupid news. MCFD returned Ayn to her
mom and dad with three sets of clothing after three years. After the tens of
thousands of dollars expended to retain Ayn in a Foster environment, this girl,
ostensibly removed to help a dad overwhelmed with parental duties, gives her
back with a depleted wardrobe. They could have written a check for $1000.00 to
replenish a growing young woman’s clothing. That would be ‘assistance.’
Written by Ray Ferris. Ray Ferris is a retired child-protection worker and the author of The Art of Child Protection and occasional contributor to this GPS blog.
Let me tell you about a recent case in Victoria family court. A parental capacity assessment was done under contract to the director. This document completely dominated all the judge’s decisions. The PCA was full of serious flaws and I list them below.
1. The psychologist took five months to do the report, claiming it was necessary to read thousands of pages of legal documents. He did no such thing. He read reams of ministry records that he had no business doing because it made him clearly partial and he is supposed to be impartial.
2. He stated he followed standard guidelines, but he failed to state whose guidelines.
3. He stated he was an expert witness before the court. He was not. An expert witness has to be qualified at a court hearing and his expertise can be challenged. His testimony has to stand up to examination and cross-examination under due process.
4. Under section 64 (2) b of the CF&CSA the judge may consider any written submission or documents he considers relevant. So legally a PCA has no more standing than say a school report or a letter of support for a parent.
5. In soliciting input from other professionals such as psychologists and registered counsellors he misrepresented himself. He said he was doing a court ordered assessment. He was under contract to the director.
6.Because of this misrepresentation others felt obliged to share information, which they would otherwise not have done. One of them stated that had he known, he would have not considered him to be impartial and would have been reluctant to help him. ( In one Vancouver case, the judge did not trust the PCA ordered by the ministry, nor the one contracted by the parent and so he ordered his own to be done. Speaks for itself. )
7. The parent sent relevant sections of the PCA to all the professionals who were quoted. They all provided letters confirming that he had misrepresented himself and made a number of changes to their information so that it was skewed in favour of the director. Some of them specifically asked him if he was audio recording the telephone interviews He said he was not, so they took careful notes of what they said. He presented their input as verbatim in his report and so misled the court.
Conclusion. I could go on, but that is enough for a blog. I write this for those readers who may be suffering from a surfeit of parental capacity assessments. I hope this information is of help to you in instructing your lawyers how to deal with these reports, because most lawyers swallow the psychobabble and do not know how to challenge it. Do not hesitate to contact me if you need help with this sort of problem, firstname.lastname@example.org
Parental Capacity assessments (1st of 2 parts) Written by Ray Ferris. Ray Ferris is a retired child-protection worker and the author of The Art of Child Protection and occasional contributor to this GPS blog.
Parental capacity assessments, or PCAs are the sacred cows of the family courts. Neither the courts, nor the lawyers nor the social workers understand the parameters and limitations of these assessments. So for the benefit of any readers who may be at the mercy of the MCF I will give you the basics.
PCAs are one of a related group of family studies, which require the same skills to accomplish. These are adoption home studies, foster home studies, custody and access reports, general social assessments and risk assessments. All these studies should be carefully compiled and factual family histories done with the emphasis on normal social functioning. Families who have normal educational achievements, good work records and stable housing do not suddenly change their natures and haul off and injure kids or become negligent. One needs to know the risk factors such as parents, who have poor education, poor work records, poor financial histories, serial marital relationships, histories of alcohol and drug abuse, family violence and so on.
I am grateful to Zabeth Bayne for digging up good guidelines for me. These are not issued by the professions of psychology or social work. Neither the college of psychologists nor their association has guidelines for parental capacity assessments and the same goes for social work. The guidelines come from the Law Society in its online education program. They clearly state that psychologists are not qualified to do PCAs without further mentored training. Yet psychologists are hired all the time to do them and they follow no firm guidelines. Guidelines also only recommend psychometric testing in special cases. Also that any psychometric testing should not be done be the same person who does the parental capacity assessment.
Now we have the courts leaving it all to psychologists to determine the outcome of cases. Judges abandon their judicial responsibilities and leave it all on the shoulders of untrained psychologists. Usually the ministry pays for these assessments, and it is well known that so-called expert opinion favours the hand that pays. Repeat business may be in mind. (contact me if you have a question, email@example.com.)
$2 billion. I am disgusted. Government negotiators claim teachers’ demands will cost that additional amount. I’m not disgusted by the number itself but by the spin. What is missing from this self-serving BCPSCA assertion is the truth that over the past decade $2 billion was channeled out of public education. Yes. Public education was reduced by $2 billion. School children were dispossessed of $2 billion that had been servicing their classroom experience. So, in fact, teachers are asking for funding that students and their teachers used to have. They are asking the BC Liberal government to return the money that they took away and spend elsewhere. Where and when was
this money withdrawn? It is unrelated to their salaries. Salary is not all that teachers talking about. They also speak of class size and composition with regards to their contract. For several years teachers took zero percent increases in order to sign contracts which included size and composition components because these affect working and learning conditions. The greater the class size, the less individual attention per student. Simple. Class composition considers educational and emotional needs of students and some students require assistance to achieve outcomes comparable to their peers. Some students need IEPs, Individual Education Plans which provide behavioural and or academic approaches and goals for success. Again simple. The more IEPs in a class, the greater the complexity of the learning environment for the entire class and the greater the burden on a teacher to effectively manage and instruct all his or her students. So, I repeat, teachers gave up salary raises in order to bargain for limits to class size and the number of IEPs per class. Then in 2002 the government destroyed those negotiated terms by removing class size and composition language. The Supreme Court of B.C. on two occasions now, has told the Liberal government that it’s dissolution of the negotiated contract was illegal. It has been told to fund BC public education to accommodate that earlier contract language. By the government’s own calculation that will cost how much? Yes, $2 billion. Teachers are asking this government for that which it is legally required to pay by the Supreme Court. They are asking the government to respect the rule of law.
In B.C. the Premier’s salary has risen from $117,000 in 2001, to Christy Clark’s 2014 annual salary of $194,000. That’s fair, she believes. Typically an MLA in 2001 earned an approximate base salary of $72,000 and today your MLA enjoys a 41.3% increase to $102,000 base. Is it similarly fair that a B.Ed grad in 2001 earned $60,000 as a teacher, and now receives the equivalent over these 13 years of a 26.8% increase to $76,000.
Nova Scotia’s teachers are the lowest pain teachers in Canada. Second to them are British Columbia’s teachers. When the cost of living in each of those provinces is compared, B.C. teachers are understandably experiencing the pain.
We are all waiting for word. BC teachers’ negotiators and government negotiators met throughout the weekend and Sunday night. Both sides would like to avoid the full-scale strike scheduled for Tuesday. As far as anyone knows now, the school year is over. Students and teachers removed their personal belongings from schools last week and bid one another hasty goodbyes.
If these two sides can agree on a formula that satisfies both, the school year could still finish out in an almost normal manner. Currently, both sides are quiet about the bargaining process. I hope for everyone’s sakes that this marathon can end.
While the strike officially begins tomorrow, schools are empty today as well because the BCTF called for an all day Monday Study Day, ostensibly purposed to either examine and settling on a contract proposal that might have come out of the weekend or working on a revised bargaining package.
It would be surprising that you have no opinion about the full-scale strike endorsed by 86% of 33,387 B.C. teachers who voted this week. Today may be the last day of school for the year, for teachers scheduled on the picket line of the current rotating strike action. Certainly Friday will be officially the last day of school for all students. You may have a parental opinion, a student opinion, a tax-paying citizen’s opinion and that opinion matters to teachers. Their livelihood and their own families, and their love for students and for teaching also matter to teachers. Notwithstanding the vote, teachers did not want the year to conclude this way. No teacher wants to be off work. No teacher wants to leave his or her students this way. No teacher wants to irritate parents. No teacher wants to abandon long anticipated student functions and events. No teacher wants to lose hundreds of dollars per day. No teacher wants to have twelve years of virtually unresolved contractual disrespect from an employer who should be honouring teachers. What some might deem to be lack of concern for students is entirely the reverse. Teachers know that particularly in elementary grades, a student thrives because of a teacher’s attention. If a class size limit is not implemented, students lose. It is because teachers want the best for your children and grandchildren that they have taken this stand. Our government honours all types of people from foster parents to sports heroes. When is the last time you remember in the past thirty years that teachers were honoured publicly for educating successive generations of public office holders, entrepreneurs, researchers, medical personnel, tradespeople of all kinds?
I have sympathy for teachers. I believe they have lost some
purchasing power in comparison to similarly educated people who are working in
the public sector. They deserve to be
heard. But the dollar is not even the chief issue is it?
No one seems to be listening.
Teachers surely do not want the public to perceive that
they are responsible for this continuing impasse. They aren’t – responsible for
this crippled negotiation. Are they asking too much? If all that you hear is
the monetary demand, then you will think so. That is not the most critical aspect
of their request for a new contract. Please
understand that teachers care about the children who sit in their classrooms.
With few exceptions, teachers are eager to be involved with parents in the
preparation of succeeding generations for their lives and careers ahead. That
is why class sizes and class composition matter to teachers. Both of these
factors impact your children either positively or negatively. A teacher who has a class of twenty children
spends more quality time with each student than a teacher with 35 pupils,
several of whom have personal special needs requiring specialized attention. Education is one of the noblest professions
extant, so it remains both an insult to teachers and an embarrassment to our BC
governance that teachers are not treated with honour that precludes this
The strike vote scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of this next week is crucial to people's perception and support. Teachers will want to think twice about this vote and whether they want to be the catalysts for escalating the rhetoric and aggression and causing a blowup. This will likely be a successful vote but what
will the motion be? Teachers surely do not want to shut down the entire system.