Editor: The BC Liberals’ have mounted a two-pronged attack on public education.
Over 1,300 delegates at the BC Federation of Labour convention last week supported an education report, vowing to fight for proper funding of public education and for the defeat the Liberal government.
Last March, we saw a three-day strike to oppose lack of funding and Bill 22, punitive legislation aimed at breaking the teachers’ union by imposing fines on them and individual members. B.C. Federation brothers and sisters stood alongside teachers, with 10,000 marching in Victoria.
Nonetheless, the bill was rammed through, despite a Supreme Court ruling finding the Liberals in violation of teachers’ charter rights to free collective bargaining.
Since then, teaching conditions have worsened, shortchanging our children. Many classrooms have five or more identified students who need but get limited support. Without a doubt, class size, composition and specialist ratios must be improved this spring after a decade of cuts.
In addition, the government’s New Education Plan, crafted without teacher representation from the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, must be halted. The plan’s mantra “personalized learning” at first glance sounds progressive. The parent, the classroom teacher and the child will formulate a plan which will take the child’s interests into account.
The reality is, since resources are limited, it is a daunting task and it opens the way for public education to be outsourced to private educational companies, who will take away the teaching from teachers, and replace it with educational software.
Children’s wellbeing will be jeopardized. Medical research has shown the negative effects of too much technology and at an early age. The plan is an underhanded scheme, allowing the ministry to minimally test and identify, so it can de-categorize special needs students.
Shamefully, this will limit targeted funding, special education, learning support teachers, psychologists, counsellors or smaller classrooms. These are cheaper solutions to ultimately sabotage education, not improve it.
We need leadership that cares about our most vulnerable students, equity in education and equity in society. That is what unions fight for. We need a new government to end this attack, bring in the right changes and invest in our future by funding public education.