Christy Clarke….but can she see Russia from her Back Door?


February 27, 2011 by readlisaread

How about with 2 flashlights and a mirror?  Oh no…that’s a different question….. For anyone reading this from outside of BC, this is what I’m referencing: This is who is going to run our province.  I’d like to say I am speechless, but I guess I’m not, and really, on some level not actually surprised.  I mean, this is the same party that elected Gordon Campbell as their leader. But I really, honestly, didn’t think that even Liberals (now, there is a misnomer!) could ever sink to these depths, but clearly I was wrong….again.

What follows is an open letter to the Premier Delegate, the New Leader, the Reinvented Ms. Clarke.

Dear Christy

I feel like I can address you by your first name, since we’ve been through so much together.  Working moms, just wanting to do the best for our families.  Of course, while you were the Minister of Education, I was just a lowly teacher.  Well, that is to say, I didn’t feel like a Lowly Teacher until the Liberals really got rolling, and totally decimated public education, declaring us an essential service and giving the Fraser Institute open license to sodomize us on a yearly basis.  It’s funny, because many of you Cabinet Ministers had your kids in private school at the time.  In fact, I believe you yourself only ever attended Private School. And yet, you were the Provincial Expert, you were the one who was going to chart a course for all the children in BC, seeing to all their educational needs……are you proud of the job you did in that position?  Because I have to be honest with you, Chris, I wasn’t feeling the love back then.

So, now you are (almost) the Big Cheese, the Grande Fromage of this amazing, resource-rich, breath-takingly beautiful piece of Western North America.  So, I’m going to lay it out for you, Clarke-o-Rama.  This is how I see it. I’d like to think that you learned from your past arrogance, that you did some voice-coaching to tame that shrill note, and that you have a New Attitude towards BC and the people who live here.   I’d like to think that you left politics because you were heartily sickened by what you saw happening, and vowed to only come back if you saw the opportunity to right past wrongs, and effect Good change.  I’d like to believe that you are going to lead the fight against privatizing all of our services– like Education, and Health care–that you are going to think to yourself: “You know, most of the teachers and nurses in this province have more education and experience in their jobs than I do….maybe I should trust them, instead of revile them.”

I’d like to believe all that, CC, just like I’d like to believe you are an honest, church-going Hockey mom who only wants to do the right thing. I’ll tell you what–if you want to come hang out for a day in a normal public Middle School, see how the common folk are getting on with their lives….why don’t you swing by?  I’m only an hour from Victoria and the Legislature.   That reminds me of something else you and I have in common, Christy-darling–I’ve been in the Assembly too!  I was a teacher delegate on 2 occasions to the Parliamentary Democracy Institute, and we got to tour the buildings, and sit in the house, and all sorts.  We also got a real education for a week on how democracy is supposed to work in this province.  I still have my notes if you want to come over and study, sometime.

Anyway, Clarkinator, I guess I better sign off. You are going to be pretty busy, and I know you won’t have tonnes of time for me for awhile.  But don’t you worry, I’ll be watching.  And remembering.  Oh yes, I will be remembering.



PS– on the plus side, at least you beat Kevin Falcon!


  1. andrew says:


    Please try and grasp the following phrases:

    1. Teachers are no more important than anyone else.

    2. Teachers should be rewarded based on their actual performance, just like everyone in the real world.

    3. Privatization might be a good idea, and it also might lead to children that could be better-prepared for their venture into this amazing world of ours. This would be based on accurate testing and reporting structures resisted today.

    4. And Lisa, we remember too. We remember too.

    Good Luck, I hope the gravy train lasts for a little while longer. And mocking someones’ voice? Really?

  2. readlisaread says:

    You, of course, are entitled to your opinion, Andrew, and just to show you that I don’t fear dissension, I am not going to take down your comment. Incidentally, “voice” does not always refer to the sound that is emitted from one’s larynx– sometimes voice is a completely different sort of noise.

    Finally, I have to respond to your “Gravy Train” comment. Really? Gravy Train? Is it the 1950’s again? But in any event, let me ask you how many years of post-sec schooling did you pay for? (I paid for 7). How many degrees do you hold? (I have 2) How many kids do you have in public school (again, I have 2). And yet you still welcome this Palin-esque harridan into office? Well, ok then…..I’ll be interested to see how that works out for you,

  3. andrew says:

    Many people don’t like change Lisa. Especially, a coddled workforce that has no concept of value for money, and resists real analysis of their contributions and work on a consistent basis, and not on their own terms.

    In case you’re wondering what workforce I’m referring to, that would be teachers in general. You and your friends, Lisa.

    Sorry for the gravy train reference. I was trying to make a point that was obviously lost on you. The gravy train refers to the fact that many of our teachers, and their sense of entitlement, empowered by the teachers union, (you know, the one that’s not a union really), have not jumped into the 90’s even, and realized that, regardless of their education – 7 years as stated for you – does not entitle them to getting whatever they want, or indeed anything at all. Education is a choice, and it’s one you’ve obviously enjoyed. Bravo. Good for you. As for how apt that education is in the real world is always the question.

    I seriously believe, that while many teachers can be inspirational, and help students succeed in whatever they choose to do, the standards are dropping and the threat of privatization might just be the thing that helps them understand that they need to step it up many, many notches. Privatization would enable us to hold someone accountable, which at this point cannot be done at all by the teachers federation, again, the non-union union.

    As a group, you’re hard not to revile, not necessarily by who encompasses the group, because for most of us, we thought it was just the federation talking, but now to me it’s clear, you also subscribe to the same belief system, that education entitles you to something. It doesn’t. Period.

    I, have only 4 years of education to your 7, but out here in the real world, that doesn’t entitle me to anything. Where I live, my business has to compete with all comers. That means lots of people with indeed no education at all that many times beat us competitively. What do we do? We learn from our mistakes and go forward from there.

    We need the same accountability in all of our public services, from teachers to health care and so on. That accountability can only make all of us better, and improve the chances of a better future for all.

  4. readlisaread says:

    Hey, Andrew, you can come spend a day with me, too. I teach in an inner-city Middle School, where drug problems, parents in jail, foster care, unemployment and alcoholism are the norm for a majority of our kids. We’ve had the police make arrests on campus several times already this year, and the ambulance visit almost as often. Our kids come coatless, lunchless and very often hopeless. You might think I’m telling you this because I’m trying to shock you into feeling bad for me and apologizing for being wrong about the whole Gravy Train thing. Again, you would be wrong in that assumption, Andy. I’m telling you all of this to set the context of my last comment to you on this topic–You are right, I do have it pretty good. I laugh, every day, on my job, with colleagues who are the smartest, funniest and most caring people around. And with my kids, who overcome adversity, who are dragging themselves up into adolescence, sometimes with very little help and guidance. When I see these same kids a few years down the road, I do, indeed, fell very well paid when I am faced with a successful, hard-working, well-scrubbed young adult who I remember as an awkward, hurt and lost 15 year old, heading down a bad path.

    Incidentally, Drewsky, where did you get the idea I was talking about money? I don’t need or want more money–I just want a little respect, like I’m sure you expect on your job, from your bosses and your clientele. And I’m not entitled to it, I earn it by doing my best every day, by nurturing and helping young people, by keeping up in research in the field, by engaging and challenging my students to be more.

    But like I said, we are never going to agree, clearly you have a big old chip on your shoulder about teachers. Too bad. But, maybe you will feel differently the first time you attend a Parent-Teacher conference with one of your own children.

  5. Sherry says:

    Hi Lisa!

    Andrew thanks for sharing!

    Lisa, I know you and I both can name at least 20 students who would give anything to play hockey and a devoted hockey mom cheering them on in the stands, but can’t afford it! Let’s hope our frenemy Christy Clark is able to put her money where her mouth is and end child poverty once and for all in this province. All we can do is wait – here we go again!

  6. readlisaread says:

    Thanks, Sherry! And hey, if Christy really does achieve half of what she promises, I’ll happily say “Wow….I was wrong!” Because wouldn’t the end of child poverty, the resurgence of BC as having the best public education program in the world, and a time of peace and prosperity be …… amazing.

  7. Doug says:

    Andrew, I think you are also carrying some mis-conceptions. I worked as an engineer for 15 years and now I’m a teacher, so my perspective might be a bit different from many people. FWIW I have taken a greater than 50% cut in pay.

    I think the idea that “in the real world” salaries are strongly linked to performance is not accurate. Many professions don’t have a review process which is tied to salary. I would argue that most salary increases across the board are accomplished through time at the job, increased responsibilities, job changes and marketing. Increased job responsibility is often a result of internal politicking, nepotism, opportunism (supply and demand, probably the biggest determinant), and friendships. Skill acquisition certainly comes into play too, but not necessarily performance. The fact that teachers have essentially a flat organizational structure to work within, increased job responsibility is very hard to incorporate. However, it is reasonable to assume that the first 5 years of teaching results in large gains in skill acquisition. Studies back this up I believe. I think the most prevalent method of increasing salary is through changing employers, and this often completely severs the link between performance and salary. No-one shows up at a job interview with a portfolio of work reviews. Supply and demand often plays the biggest role in salary for when companies hire new workers. At the upper echelon of salary we see a complete disconnect with performance (think Bank presidents).

    Merit pay has some pretty big problems most notably the increased costs to the province and a lack of a way to actually determine merit. Stephen Cowley, one of the main dudes behind the Fraser Institute’s rating of schools, is a proponent of merit pay. However, even he admits to the issues mentioned above. As far as I can tell, his main talking point for merit pay is that it is better than nothing. Oddly enough, he doesn’t explain how to put it into practice such that there is any “better.”—big-fat-diet—ethical-travel/

    The irony here is that there is a good chance that any teacher you encounter on a blog would actually qualify for merit pay. I have no doubt that I would get paid more if there was merit pay, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s a good idea. Actually, I don’t really mind merit pay other than the issue that there is no method of determine merit. But I get absolutely sick of the misconception that the average person in BC is paid according to merit. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I think one of the biggest problems with teacher’s unions is just how hard it is to remove the worst teachers. Obviously there are some bad ones out there, just like there are bad employees in all industries. I bet many companies in BC wishes they could get rid of the bottom 10% of their employees. But the fact that bad teachers are difficult to get rid of does not mean that the rest of the professionals are being coddled. The teachers I’ve met are mostly all very hard working and strive for excellence in both their performance and in their students. We do not have days where we can take it easy and phone it in. If we’re feeling sick or tired, too bad, we have to suck it up and delivery all day. I know very well how it works on both sides of the fence.

  8. readlisaread says:

    Doug, thank you for your comments (and for trying! I generally don’t engage in these arguments, because I find it fruitless….but you wrote everything I was thinking, and so well). I don’t know if you read my post on Merit Pay ( but, again, I agree with your points–never mind the logistics of setting something like that up.

    Finally, while I have served (in the past) in union local positions (mostly Pro-D and communications), I am terribly frustrated with the BCTF, for the reason you mention, especially, and also for the Trade Union mentality. All the teachers I know are better than that, and yet we are still locked in this model that is not positive, not progressing, and once we got into bed with Jim Sinclair just became embarrassing.

    Thanks again for visiting 🙂

  9. Carole says:

    Oh, so much to which I’d like to respond.

    First: the union doesn’t protect bad teachers (the very few who really exist. Really). The union ensures that everyone gets due process. You, me, and the bad teacher whose badness should be proven and not merely alleged. It’s a basic premise of our entire judicial system. Moreover, the union doesn’t hire them in the first place. And the union doesn’t fail to evaluate them.

    Second: We aren’t in bed with Jim Sinclair. We are affiliated to the BC Federation of Labour, whose members include all other public sector workers in BC, which allows us to co-ordinate public sector bargaining among other strategies. It also means that we can share our experiences with the unionized workers of BC… many of whom are the parents of our students. It’s an opportunity to build alliances and shape the direction labour takes in this province. We are a real union — all aspects of the Labour Code apply to us and we benefit from the collective bargaining process (those class size and composition provisions whose loss has denigrated our students’ learning conditions so significantly) were achieved in collective bargaining — when we were acting like a union.

    The BCTF is the most consistent and vocal advocate for students and the public education system. Even my partner, a former vice principal, points out that in the early Liberal era, the BCTF was the only education partner group to consistently and publicly advocate for students. I often disagree with the BCTF’s chosen strategy or messaging, and find myself frustrated by the slowness of its democratic processes, but I almost always agree with its policy positions when it comes to the needs of students.

    Third: Andrew’s attack is the sort of material that makes teaching most disheartening. It’s important not to let his commentary define our discourse. Despite his hostility, the actual content of his attack is minimal, and, frankly, wrong. Teachers aren’t on a gravy train and we know that. $150 for glasses every two years! Ha! He might, however, be surprised to learn that almost always the most successful education jurisdictions on international rankings have the highest paid teachers and the strongest trade unions.

    More significantly, his suggestion that we oppose standardized testing because we fear it is simply incorrect. We oppose it because in every jurisdiction it has proven detrimental to students and to the strength of the public education system. Conversely, the most successful systems of public education have minimal standardized testing and do not attach it to high stakes school or teacher rankings. Look at Finland. Standardized testing narrows curriculum and limits student creativity. Every expert educator and researcher knows this. School rankings destabilize public schools and further weaken already marginalized student populations. Every education policy analyst and researcher knows this.

    And yes, I am absolutely afraid of privatization. For one thing, as a public school teacher, I couldn’t afford to send my kids to private school (so much for the gravy train). More importantly, I know that increased privatization will skim (or entirely gut) students, funds, and resources from the public system. Education is the key to generational change in standard of living, but a two-tired education system would instead entrench class differences. Again, in every jurisdiction that has such divisions, we see much greater disparity between rich and poor (look only to the US, and check trends there. Yet, these are the policies touted by Christy Clark and her acolyte, Andrew). As a society, we tend to be of a consensus that we are willing to sacrifice a degree of wealth to ensure equality of opportunity. A healthy public education system attended by the broadest possibly cross section of society is the first step doing so.

    So Christy Clark’s election is indeed of grave concern to me, and should be to all of us, especially those of us (all of us) with a vested interest in education. Her promises to increase support to private schools (in an era of unprecedented underfunding in the public system) and to continue the FSA regime (despite numerous comments from school districts that the resultant rankings are harmful and a statement from the principals’ association that the results are invalid) suggest that she continues to pander to the likes of Andrew whose rhetoric is appealing but baseless.

    Ah, that feels better. Thanks, Lisa!

  10. readlisaread says:

    Carole, thank you so much for your comments– and for reading! I’m not happy about being affiliated with Jim Sinclair– I still feel like he sold us out during the last strike. However….you are so right when you say that the BCTF is the only voice speaking loudly and clearly in support of Students, despite what the right-wing media would have people like Andrew believe. Truly, the only thing stopping our employer getting rid of those “bad” teachers is due process–it’s all in place, it only needs to be followed through on.

    We’ll see…..I’m so hopeful that the election of Ms Clark leads to a much, much more promising outcome in the next general election.

    Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  11. Doug says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I checked out your merit pay posts, they’re a good read!
    I did some similar posts over the past 6 months:

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