Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Teacher News

Marathoner Extraordinaire

Teacher to run 22 marathons in 22 days in protest of Bill 22

Released by Ian Cunliffe, N Van


Ian Cunliffe seen here in his 200km Sahara Desert run to raise funds for famine in Darfur, Somalia.



is classroom may be closed for the summer but North Vancouver primary teacher Ian Cunliffe won’t be taking any time off.


This August Ian will be taking on the epic task of running over 11,000 kms across British Columbia – well over a marathon a day for 22 days in protest against the staggering cuts about to be implemented to public education here in BC.


In his 6 years of teaching Ian has witnessed the continued erosion of funding to schools across British Columbia and the results these cuts in funding are having on students. And now with the latest cuts to public education looming, Ian feels that he can no longer remain silent and has decided to take a stand.


“For years now we have been asked to do more with less. We’ve reached the point where the average teacher is spending over $1000 of their own take home pay trying to bridge the funding shortfall in order to meet the needs of their students, and with more cuts on the way the situation is no longer sustainable.”


“With class size limits, ratios of special needs students per class and guaranteed funding for special needs students all being the latest casualties from over a decade’s worth of Liberal cuts to public education we as teachers feel we can no longer remain silent.”


“Teachers are kind hearted and reasonable people but this government is refusing to listen to our very real concerns. Teachers are worried about overcrowded classrooms, inadequate supplies, closing school libraries, overburdened counselors and learning assistance teachers, unsupported special needs students and now a move to virtual classrooms where struggling students will be met with computer terminal instead of an actual teacher in the room.”


Ian is 43 years old and has over a decade’s worth of post-secondary education and even he acknowledges that he has a hard time with completing these online courses. “The idea that replacing a face to face teacher with a computer terminal and an instructor available via email will be suitable for the majority of students flies in the face of everything that we know as educators. Kids need actual face to face interaction with teachers – teachers to motivate and inspire them, to push them, challenge them and support them. Expecting a struggling student to support themselves through virtual learning just does not make sense and will end badly for many students.”


What the new BC Education Plan presents as ‘choice’ is really no more than a cynical sales pitch to continue to cut funding to our public system, shift provision of many services to third party service providers and push responsibility for succeeding without adequate resources onto students and parents.


“When your child is struggling for help, wouldn’t you want a learning specialist teacher with 20 years of experience instead of a much cheaper and less qualified homework help service? Unfortunately under the new system students and parents should be prepared for less of the former and more of the latter.”


The public needs to understand what’s going on. They need to start asking why private schools have continued to receive increased funding while public schools are having their funding hacked to the bone.


Despite $3,000,000,000 in cut funding over the last 10 years BC has been fortunate to have one of the top internationally ranked public school systems in the world due in large part to the commitment of its teachers, and Ian feels that’s it’s worth protecting.


“It’s time for people to demand that government commit to properly funding our public school system and treating students and teachers with respect.”


Ian is a primary school teacher and teacher librarian with the North Vancouver School District. He is a parent of two young children and has completed several ultra-marathons including the world’s toughest race, the Marathon Des Sables (a 240 km race across the Sahara). You can follow his journey at:



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