Friday, March 2, 2012

Support your BC Teachers! Please Read!

This is not a food blog post- It's a letter written by Tiffany Wainwright, a teacher in BC. The new legislation of Bill 22 in British Columbia will affect the education of all students living in BC and I feel it's important to share this letter with as many parents and soon to be parents as possible. Please read and support your teachers!!

"I’m a BC teacher who’s concerned about the direction our province is taking with regards to public education. Media attention has been focused on teacher salaries, ignoring the fact that we are discussing a wide range of issues at the bargaining table. The issues being discussed in this round of negotiations will impact your children and the future of public education. Do we care to be informed of these issues, or just to accept the media’s oversimplified interpretation?

Do you care that the government has stripped away class size limits?
That means that children may be in classes of thirty-five, forty or higher. There are no class size limits. Currently 3,627 classes in B.C. have over 30 students in them. How much individual attention or individualized learning programs can teachers realistically provide to student in increasingly large classes?

Do you care that the government isn’t respecting their own School Act which stipulates a per class limit of three students who need special assistance?
Currently there are 12, 240 classes in B.C. with more than four children who need special assistance.  
What does this mean for our children?
If you’re a child who needs special assistance, you’re probably not getting the time you’re entitled to. If you’re a child who doesn’t need additional support, your class is being disrupted by students acting out because they aren’t getting the support they need to be successful. If you’re a teacher, you’re spending a lot of energy and resources managing your class’s behavior dynamics. This decreases the time you spend teaching curriculum. This is a lose/lose/lose situation.

The number of special needs students is growing while seven hundred and thirty-eight special education teachers have been cut in the last five years. Currently, there aren’t enough student assistants to support the children with special needs.

Do you care that the number of students who need English language support has increased by over two thousand in the last five years, while three hundred and thirty-eight ESL teachers have been cut?
Who’s filling these gaps?
No one at the moment. Teachers will do their best to meet the needs of the students, but realistically, when the needs of the class are very diverse, it becomes extremely difficult for one teacher to serve those needs effectively.  
Do you care that the percentage of annual provincial GDP dedicated to education is steadily decreasing in BC?
Compared to 10 years ago, we’ve seen a .4% decrease which equals 800 million dollars per year gone from the education budget.
Why does government values education less than it did 10 years ago? Other provinces that have experienced declining enrolment have used the opportunity to improve educational services. Projected enrolment is increasing again yet the government continues to cut the education budget
BC ranks seventh in the country in terms of the percentage of GDP it spends on education. BC is below the national average. 
Why have negotiations have been so onerous and unproductive to date?
In 1994, the bargaining process was changed. Prior to 1994, teachers bargained with their local school districts. Now, the diverse needs of all school districts are lumped together and negotiated at the provincial level . The BCTF represents all BC teachers and the BCPSEA represents the province. Since 1994, every contract negotiation, save one, has ended in government legislation. With the stick of legislation in hand, what would motivate the government to listen to teachers’ concerns? Without a negotiation procedure that works, the government and teachers miss the opportunity to engage in a much needed intelligent and flexible dialogue about the state of education and learning conditions.

Now, imagine for a moment, a class of thirty-eight teenagers, with five students who need special assistance, two students who don’t speak English fluently, one student assistant, and one teacher.   
Are these optimal or effective learning conditions for our children? A class like this is highly possible under the terms legislated by our government.   
If you care about any of the issues raised above, please call or email George Abbott or Premier Christy Clark and ask them :
-why funding for education as a percentage of provincial GDP is shrinking
- why they think it’s a good idea to have bigger class sizes with fewer assistants to support the students who need it
-why they’re cutting counselors, teachers, librarians, and special needs teachers
Compare Christy Clark’s net-zero mandate for education to premiers in other provinces.
Alberta’s new premier, Alison Redford committed to “restore the education cuts made in the 2011-2012 budget within 10 days of being sworn in.”

Manitoba’s premier Greg Selinger committed to cap class sizes in order to address teachers’ concerns. He stated, “investing in smaller class sizes is an important step we can take toward ensuring our kids learn in the bet possible environment.”
Clark’s government is telling us that there is no more money for education. How we allocate our provincial tax dollars is a choice. If there is no more money for public education, it’s because we’ve decided to spend it elsewhere. The allocation of government funds can be influenced by public pressure. If public education is a priority for you, send a message to Premier Clark letting her know that you value public education and that you want more tax dollars allocated to it. The above issues are what the teachers are bargaining for. If you support these issues, please let Premier Clark know that you support the teachers. "
Premier Christy Clark Geroge Abbott – Minister of Education
Room 310 West Annex
Parliament Buildings Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC Victoria, BC
V8V 1X4 V8V 1X4
Toll Free: 1.877.771.7557 Phone: 604.775.1003

****information sources referenced:
BCTF. (2010) Education Funding: A brief to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government services
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. (2011) K-12 Funding Problems in Context..from
BCTF. (2010)2010-2011 BC Education Facts. Available at


  1. Class composition and class size are of huge importance to me. I definitely worry that K might be understimulated when he attends kindergarten, which is a small part of why we've secured a French Immersion spot for him. The class size may still be large, but it should be composed of other children who are at the same level as he is, in theory, all placing similar demands on the teacher. It actually makes me a bit ashamed to type that out, as my political views are very left-leaning and inclusive, and yet those are in stark contrast to how I feel as an individual parent - which is protective and individualistic. It's such a hard line to walk.

  2. It is a hard line to walk when your own child is concerned. I too want the very best situation for N and I'm glad I can put her in the French school that has smaller class sizes. If it weren't for the french, we would consider private school only because of this strike and the unlikely chances the government will put the students first like they claim. It's a very important time for public education, this strike will determine the future of public education. If the government wins the battle, I fear even K in immersion will be swamped with too many other children making it very difficult for the teacher. Any class over 24 students (in my opinion) gets very difficult to manage and at the present time there are classes with 34 students. I hope the teachers on strike can get the message across.