By Rodney A. Clifton
Like many unions, the Manitoba Teachers’ Society publishes a newsletter–The Manitoba Teacher.
In the June edition, there is an article containing two letters, one from Colin Craig, the prairie director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and one from Pat Isaak, the President of the teachers’ union.
Earlier in May, Colin Craig published an op-ed in the Winnipeg Free Press in which he noted that while the number of students enrolled in public schools was decreasing, the costs of educating them were increasing substantially.
The op-ed was not disrespectful and Colin Craig’s claim is true as anyone who has looked at the FRAME Reports published by the provincial government knows.
Pat Isaak then invited Colin to visit a school to see what was going on. I suppose she was convinced that he would change his mind about the cost of education if he saw all the good things taking place in classrooms.
In return, Colin Craig invited Ms. Isaak to spend a morning talking with taxpayers and then they would go to a school for the afternoon.
Surprisingly, in response, Ms. Isaak said:
“… I revoke my invitation to you to visit a school. Students should not be subjected to someone with such a negative attitude about Manitoba schools and the work teachers do to prepare young people to be future citizens and taxpayers.”
Obviously, this statement is designed to close off debate, something that an excellent teacher would not want to do.
Can you believe that the president of the MTS would say that Mr. Craig has such negative attitudes that he is unteachable? Has she said such things about students, their parents, or other citizens?
Frankly, I see nothing wrong with Mr. Craig’s claim or his proposal. It seems like a good idea for Ms. Isaak to meet some taxpayers and for Mr. Craig to talk with students and teachers.
I don’t see any disrespectful attitudes coming from Mr. Craig, and I don’t think that he was demeaning towards students, teachers, or the MTS.
In What’s Wrong with Our Schools and How we can Fix Them, we have a chapter titled “Teachers’ unions don’t always put students first”.
This shameful “put-down” by a union president provides more evidence that teachers’ unions often forget that they are educators, and that they must engage in fair debate with critical citizens and parents. After all, taxpayers pay their salaries.
I hope Ms. Isaak changes her mind and listens to taxpayers for half a day and Mr. Craig goes to a school and talks with students and teachers for half a day.
Then, I hope each of them publishes an op-ed telling all us what they learned from their experiences. Then, maybe both Mr. Craig and Ms. Isaak will change their minds.
Isn’t that what we want from our education system which is supported by taxpayers?