Strike not about pay

Having been a carpenter since 1954 and a high school teacher for 37 years I feel qualified to comment on the June 3 edition of The NEWS.

Having been a carpenter since 1954 and a high school teacher for 37 years I feel qualified to comment on the Tuesday, June 3 edition of The NEWS.

First, to Grade 10 student Robert Filmer: when I quit the regular Composite High School in Edmonton it was because of classroom composition, not wages.

When a vice principal insisted on placing students, who could not do basic mathematics, in my carpentry framing class two years in a row, I could not stand the pain of seeing them sit there, day after day, for the whole year without understanding what was going on, so I quit.

I then taught at the Young Offenders Centre where I was actually able to teach again. When I retired, at age 65, a carpenter, in his mid-40s, came to take my place. His wage that year was $75,000 and mine was $68,000. Was I being greedy, Robert, because I quit?

Thank you to superintendent Rollie Koop for pointing out that I did not get paid for coaching Monday, Wednesday, Friday after school and Saturday mornings as well as weekend trips to competitions.

Second, I would like to thank Grade 10 student Ginny Lefeaux for a very impressive letter to the editor. For me, she has nailed down the problem extremely well — please hire her for a committee for the next two years she is in school. She sums up my experience over the 37 years.

At one point I had 38 students in a Sociology 20 class and had no problems, aside from the horrendous marking load, because all the students had a similar academic background.

I always told parents they were welcome to spend a day with me to see what I did for all the money they were paying me. I actually had one parent come and spend a morning with me; when we broke for lunch he said: “I would not trade you jobs for all the tea in China — I’ll stick to being an electrician.”

Who is making the decisions that students do not need basic math, cannot be given a ‘zero’ for work they do not do, do not learn to write and spell correctly, etc.? Let’s put some common sense people in these positions. In the past I often had occasion to ask: “Did someone just come back from the U.S.A. with a Masters or Ph.D?

Ed Fergusson