Duncan – I support the B.C. teachers and I want a return to the class size and composition structure that was illegally stripped from the teachers’ contract in 2002. I think B.C. children deserve a well-funded public school system with small classes, well-maintained facilities, suitable classroom resources, and teachers who feel respected in their work and optimistic about education. I fear, however, that what Christy Clark and the BC Liberals want is something which I see as much more sinister. I don’t believe they have any intention to adequately fund the public education system. Instead, I believe they are trying to manipulate the current crisis in our education system to bring in legislation which would further support and entrench a two-tiered education system.
During the last round of bargaining (2011-2012), according to Justice Susan Griffin, the BC Liberal government did not bargain in good faith. It seemed to her that the government was trying to force a strike so that they could gain “a political advantage in imposing legislation that the public might otherwise not support.”
This finding was directly supported by Melanie Joy, the chair of BCPSEA during the negotiations. She said that the conditions the government set were so restrictive as to make a deal with the teachers almost impossible. When BCPSEA and the BCTF did manage to come to agreement the BC Liberal government reacted by “replac[ing] the elected school trustees on the BCPSEA board with its own public administrator, 2) appoint[ing] a government negotiator in the midstream of current BCTF bargaining, and 3) replac[ing] the senior staff at BCPSEA.”
Just as in 2012 Fassbender and Clark do not want a negotiated end to the strike. But I don’t think they want to legislate the teachers back to work either. They want to break the union and they want to use the strike as an opportunity to bring in legislation to expand private schooling in B.C. They may even, as some speculate, intend to introduce an education voucher system here, like many American states have.
I support the B.C. teachers but even more strongly I support what should be a right accorded to every child: guaranteed access to quality public education. Please don’t let Christy Clark and the BC Liberals dismantle our public education system. Support B.C. teachers. Let the government know that you think class size and composition are important. Our kids are worth it.