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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 5, March 2007

Our students’ future? Worth voting for

by Sylvia Bishop

Teachers care deeply about their students. Helping fulfill the promise each student holds is at the centre of teachers’ commitment to the profession. We work hard to provide the best and richest learning experiences possible under the increasing pressure of limited resources, cuts to programs, and loss of teaching colleagues.

Teachers know district and provincial funding challenges affect them and their students every day they are in school. But have federal policies and directions also been measured?

Consider the number of students living in poverty. Over 167,000 children in BC are living in poverty. The "working poor" now describes two-income households raising children in neighbourhoods with unaffordable housing and rising living costs. Teachers know the affects on student learning when children come to school tired and hungry. No learning can take place with hunger pains and fatigue present.

Consider what a difference an equitable and accessible national childcare program would make to working families. Child and youth advocates have worked hard for over 25 years to see the establishment of a national childcare program, only to see it reduced to a $100 a month cheque. Teachers know how a secure, regulated, and funded childcare program can assist in a child’s early childhood development. The guidance and monitoring after-school student care also supports a student’s learning.

Consider the affects of climate change and the environment we live in. Severe weather patterns and increased threats to ecological systems impact sustainability. What kind of world will our students live in 5, 10, or 20 years from now? Scientists indicate that climate change as a result of global warming can be reversed. It requires policies to initiate and enforce the changes we need.

There is an opportunity likely coming this year, to bring about the changes our students and their families need. In all likelihood, a federal election will be called either in the spring or fall of this year.

Now more than ever, every single vote—your vote—matters. Pundits predict Canada may face years of minority governments. This comes during a time of decreasing voter turn out in federal elections. The only way to change this is for every single eligible voter to cast their vote come election day.

The BC Federation of Labour will once again conduct its Count Me In campaign. The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) will be distributing information on issues that affect working families through its Better Choices campaign. These two web sites are a rich resource of information: www.count-me-in.net and www.betterchoice.ca.

The Federation will provide members with information on the issues. Look for upcoming articles in the Teacher newmagazine and visit bctf.ca.

Here’s what you can do. Make sure you are on the voters’ list. In the period leading up to election day, get involved in the process by reading up on the issues and attending all candidates’ meetings. Consider working for the candidate who best represents the interests of your students and their families. On election day, make your vote count.

Your students’ future? It’s your choice.

Sylvia Bishop is an assistant director, BCTF Communications and Campaigns Division.


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