As retired teachers of School District #82 – an area encompassing Kitimat, Terrace and Upper Skeena – this letter is to express our professional concern regarding the education system in this area which we perceive to be in crisis.
There are 24 uncertified and unqualified adults ‘teaching’ in our schools – an unprecedented number (and please note the quotation marks).
It has become a very serious situation during a time of the great boom and expansion of LNG projects in the area.
How ironic that with all the building of camps and pipeline preparation and subsequent tax revenues for the government coffers, there is not enough money coming from the education ministry in Victoria to support a functioning education system here.
There is no incentive for ‘new’ teachers to come North when their wages are the second-lowest in Canada and accommodation in ‘the booming towns’ is exorbitant and beyond their means.
The local school board desperately needs more funding to be able to recruit and entice teachers to this area.
They must be able to provide reasonably priced housing – possibly investing in apartments or teacherages.
With beginning teachers, they must be able to offer some incentives to stay a few years by possibly helping to pay some of their student loans.
Whatever it takes, education minister Rob Fleming must work with this school board to get qualified teachers back in the classroom.
Parents and ‘all’ students in this region deserve better. They are entitled to as good an education as anywhere else in the province – this is not happening and it needs the ministry’s immediate attention.
Kitimat Retired Teachers’ Association