||Volume 20, Number
3, November/December 2007
When teachers went on strike in the fall of 2005, we had
tremendous public support and sympathy. That public sentiment forced
the government to make a commitment to deal with the major issue in
the strikeclass size and composition. The round table met the
Monday after the strike ended. Both the premier and the education
minister were there.
The following spring the government introduced the class-size and
class-composition legislation. They said it was the beginning, it
wasnt perfect, and it would be reviewed. Unfortunately, they
provided no additional funding to school boards to meet the limits in
The message we hear from teachers is unequivocal. While there have
been some small improvements in class sizes in elementary, there are
still really serious problems with the composition of classes and
class sizes at secondary schools. There are not enough specialist
teachers for the students who need them. Many teachers are struggling
to meet the needs of all the students in their classes.
We have called for a meeting of the round table as soon as
possible. The premier has not attended a meeting of the round table
for over a year. We will take his presenceor lack of itat
the next meeting as a sign of the seriousness of the government in
keeping this promise to students and teachers.
Our input to the review of Bill 33 calls for major improvements to
the legislation. We must have smaller class-size limits, enforceable
limits for secondary schools, and guaranteed ratios for learning
assistance teachers, special education resource teachers, librarians,
counsellors, ESL teachers, speech language pathologists, and
psychologists. And critically, we must have major education funding
increases to ensure that boards can hire the teachers they need. They
have the money: the government has a $4 billion surplus.
This fall we will be campaigning hard to force the province to
live up to its promises. In late November, we ran print ads across
the province. Locals will receive grants to help them engage in their
own local campaigns to re-ignite the public support and interest that
we achieved during our strike.
The Campbell governments cavalier attitude towards public
education is unacceptable. They have increased standardized testing
and bureaucratic accountability measures but have done absolutely
nothing to meet the desperate need of teachers in the classroom. This
government is short-changing kids in this province. It has to