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Chilliwack teachers angered by 'propaganda' sent home with students

Chilliwack Teachers' Association is fuming over a letter sent home with students Monday afternoon.

The letter from the B.C. Education Ministry, entitled Information for parents during BCTF strike action, was a combined backgrounder on how the strike unfolded and a Q&A as to how the partial lockout will affect education.

But when CTA president Clint Johnston saw the letter, which was also posted on school websites, he was infuriated.

"It is the most biased propaganda that I've ever seen," Johnston said, unable to hide his anger.

"It completely lays out [the B.C. Public School Employers' Association's] position and vilifies BCTF."

Johnston said the bulletin is full of inaccuracies and omissions.

"It omits the part where the employer has locked us out," he said. "They purposely avoid stating that we are locked out."

Johnston also noted the line that states teachers are not to start work more than 45 minutes before or after their classes. Yet, in the original letter from BCPSEA that outlined the partial lockout, teachers were "directed" not to attend their workplace during those times.

The direction was clear, said Johnston.

"That's not equivocal, that's not up for interpretation, our employer directed us not to attend the site," said Johnston.

"None of this makes sense. None of it works. I believe it's deliberately made to be confusing and incoherent."

The fact it was sent home with students, not sealed in an envelope, also disappointed Johnston.

While he recognizes both the union and the employer's rights to send letters home with students, he said the union follows a protocol where letters are sealed in envelopes for the protection of students.

"Children, especially young children who can't understand the issues at hand, should not be subjected to the disagreements of the two parties," said Johnston.

"But this was sent home open for any student to read."

A Chilliwack school district official told The Progress that it was just background information, and that it could be viewed publicly, regardless, on all school and district websites province wide.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

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