B.C. teachers’ union defends anti-pipeline teaching materials
Calling itself a “social justice union,” the B.C. Teachers’ Federation defended its promotion of anti-pipeline teaching resources on Wednesday, fueling a national debate about whether teachers should tout their own views in the classroom.
The poster features wildlife — a soaring eagle, a bear, seals and killer whales — enjoying a pristine ocean scene, but the bottom-right corner shows a wide-eyed fish lying dead amid black oily sludge along with the faint image of a skull and crossbones. The headline for the poster, published on the federation’s website as part of its “social justice” resources for teachers, is this: “What we stand to lose with pipelines and oil tankers.”
As the controversy percolated on Twitter, Canada’s Natural Resources minister, Joe Oliver, told reporters Wednesday he is concerned that B.C. youth are being subjected to just one side of a critical public issue.
“My understanding is [the education resource is] somewhat unbalanced and I think that’s regrettable,” he said.
Vancouver School Board trustee Ken Denicke likened the poster, which comes amid debate over the Northern Gateway Pipeline, to propaganda; he called it “very much one-sided” and deemed it “totally inappropriate to present to young kids.”
The teachers’ union sought to clarify the poster is not part of a lesson plan — as was initially reported and discussed on Twitter — but the teachers’ federation’s website appears murkier on that question: The site has a page dedicated to “‘What We Stand to Lose’ poster resources,’” and among them is a downloadable document containing links to a dozen lesson plans that teachers can choose to use in their classrooms. That document, called “‘What We Stand to Lose’ Poster Lesson Plans,’” lists plans that hinge on the importance of protecting ocean ecosystems, the impacts of a pipeline, information about the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill and an exercise described as a “short lesson” that “illustrates the effects of mixing oil, water and bird feathers.”
“We have to start thinking about the environment, and that means that you have to start thinking about the consequences,” federation president Susan Lambert said Wednesday, adding that the resources are optional, promote critical thinking and can be paired with any number of other lesson plans at a teacher’s behest.
“There’s a probability of an oil spill if you increase tanker traffic. That’s a question that these students, and very shortly as adults, will be grappling with. It’s our responsibility in schools to give them the tools they need to grapple with that issue.”
She said the teaching resources include a link to the official Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline website, but that link is not listed in the “‘What We Stand to Lose’ Poster Lesson Plans” and is instead found in an entirely separate document called “Quick Facts” — a one-page explainer that highlights Enbridges “60 spills a year” and says “a spill could cause irreversible harm to the livelihoods of many coastal and aboriginal communities and the area’s unique marine ecosystems.”
Jordan Bateman, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s B.C. director, took to Twitter to square off against the teachers’ union, accusing it of promoting anti-pipeline materials without similarly promoting pro-pipeline materials.
“A web link isn’t balance,” Mr. Bateman tweeted in response to a union tweet pointing to the Enbridge link.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Bateman said “pipeline education is not a curriculum target” set by the province’s education ministry, and said the federation is “flexing its muscles in individual classrooms, trying to get its point of view across.”
The federation did not craft the actual lessons plans, but the union’s Environmental Justice Action Group — comprised of teachers — determined which plans would be listed as part of its social justice resources. It also decided to promote the poster on its website and on the federation’s Facebook page.
“I ordered one for my classroom and it was delivered in 2 days,” Sue Brown, who according to her Facebook page is a Greater Victoria School District teacher, commented beneath the image of the poster. “The kids like looking at it.”
Annie Kidder, executive director of Ontario’s People for Education, said if teachers portray only one side of a debate in the classroom, they risk leaving students with the impression that a different perspective is erroneous.
“I don’t think it’s wrong for teachers to tell kids what their views are, but the danger comes when those views are presented as fact,” she said.
I see one of our favourite Public Sector unions aka BCTF ” Its for the Kids ” (?!?) are finding another way to divert attention from their job description….the 3 R’s etc.etc.
It’s like going to the Dentist….but the Dentist diverts your attention to reclining furniture…very loosely connected ?…but you would probably walk out, and get a new dentist, whereas our Public Sector is like a Mafia….imbedded bullies.
For those that do study History and Politics …… this is simply another sham being perpetuated on us by Big Brother. Gov’t is usurping and undermining the role of parents with this “cultural marxism”, and concurrently avoiding their job description and accountability. I saw this Bullshit with our childrens education….and Thank God we are in a countdown where our youngest graduates this year…bye bye BCTF.
Of course….this is all set up in “touchy -feely” way….like trying to argue over quasi ” motherhood ” issues. I think the majority of people are inherently good, and upon receiving a good solid well- grounded education can develop good critical thinking skills to weight most ” Cost versus Benefit ” situations / scenarios. However, instead of teaching students to reach this aforementioned point…they are prejudicing the debate and indoctrinating the students with a mindset. This is no different than a “cult”…..
People have choices in their childs education…..they can send them to a variety of Private Schools …and within that Parochial schools if it is faith – based.These Private schools tend to lay out what you are paying for and thus should expect. The Public School system should then provide the same level of quality of education and keep politics ….etc. which is a form of religion….. out of it. They can’t deny religion in Public Schools and then deny what they are preaching isn’t an example of hypocrisy.
However, if one does research the Public School system, it was founded by Socialists/Marxists who felt that children should be moulded by the Big Brother state, and I think this is more prevalent now and increasing, as I was once a student in the public system, and can compare THEN versus NOW . Or…do we want Big Brother to become Big Mother and Big Daddy ? I don’t !!!
In other words…are we getting what we paid for…..our children already have parents and don’t need another set…that is redundant. We parents have expectations that our children get a good solid grounded education , but are they ? You can’t have both…its one or the other….thus each parent should decide what we and our children ARE actually getting.