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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 2, October 2005

Voices in the legislature: MLA's excerpts from Hansard

A parent speaks out
"Education is a critical issue in my community. Through my many years involved in my daughter’s school PAC, I know the challenges that we faced and that parents continue to face today. Regardless of the rhetoric of the Education Minister, the reality is there are not enough resources in our school system to meet the needs of our kids. While parent fundraising may work in the constituencies of the Premier or the Finance Minister or the Economic Development Minister, they don’t work very well in my community, where people are struggling to pay the rent or put food on the table.

"I was talking to my daughter last night, who’s in grade nine, and classes in her school are overcrowded to the point where in at least one of her classes there aren’t enough desks in that class for all the kids that are enrolled in the class. Some are sitting on the tables on the side. Is that what the government meant to accomplish with its great goal on education?

"I was speaking to a secondary school shop teacher the other day, who told me over the past four years the funding he has for supplies has reduced from $40 to $14 per student. He asked me how he was supposed to motivate students to get engaged in these career options when he can’t afford enough materials to let them do their projects. Of course, we all know this is exacerbated by the increased costs of materials. But for this government. It thinks nothing of adding tens of millions of dollars to cover cost overruns on a RAV line or a trade and convention centre, but it can’t find new money for the kid who wants to learn to be a welder.

"In my community we have more inner-city schools than any other constituency in the province. These schools play a critical role in the lives of the children who attend them. Often they are the one place where these kids find some real stability and support to give them a better chance to break out of a cycle of poverty that many of them are caught up in. But this government doesn’t have a sense, I believe, of the fragility of the infrastructure and the demands on the teachers and the counsellors who work in those schools."

Shane Simpson, MLA Vancouver—Hastings

A trustee speaks out
"I’m here as a school trustee, here for public education. As a trustee, I have watched the policies of this government, of downloading costs, play themselves out in the stripping of the services from our most vulnerable children. Class sizes have soared. Class composition destroys the learning conditions that our children have to endure. This must stop."

Doug Routley, MLA Cowichan—Ladysmith

A principal speaks out
"As a teacher I taught classes, and this reminds me of a Friday afternoon social studies 9 as people are ready to go. But I thought about the traditions of parliamentary democracy, and it’s a tremendous honour to be here and to see it in person and to be part of it.

The reason I came here is I want to be faithful to the people that sent me, and one of the things that they asked me to do is to make sure that I would give voice to their experiences, and I have to say that the experiences that I heard during the election process were very different from what I’ve heard from some members.

"I was a principal of a small rural school. Because of your underfunding, my school was cleaned for six hours instead of eight, my library services were cut, my special education cut. When school districts are forced to four days of school a week, as they have been in the Kootenays, instead of five, it is an act of desperation. We have been able to afford five days of schooling for a long time in B.C. How can we not afford it now? How does that help to make B.C. the best educated?

"Starting as a principal some years back, a fellow principal with years of success in administration, Ian Robinson, gave me one piece of advice. He said: ‘Look after your teachers. They have the tough job in a school. They are the key.’ It was good advice. When this government chooses to diminish them, to me it makes no sense. These are the people you should celebrate if you are in any way serious about education.

"I’m proud to be a teacher. I have felt privileged to work with teachers as a principal. I trusted teachers with my children. How do attacks on educators help make B.C. the best educated?

Norm MacDonald, MLA Columbia River—Revelstoke

Private—public partnerships
We are seeing a shocking trend towards privatization schemes in our province. Railway, medical records, B.C. Hydro, B.C. Ferries, medical services such as food and cleaning—many of them are fraught with mismanagement and end up costing us more. Fines, derailments, broken ferries, broken promises, dirty hospitals; all a product of the bottom line. The 3Ps private-public partnerships. I see them more as pilfering the public purse. To profit from doing public services means just one more hand in the purse, and the analogy that the private sector can do it better is now showing that this is untrue.

Now the government is contracting out social agencies that are non-profit. How does this work? I guess the profit will come from reducing the services they used to provide. Simple economics. I’ve seen this happen in my city when we tried to contract out the electrical utility service. Of the three bidders, two were higher than what we were doing it for in-house and paying decent jobs and decent benefits and money that was being spent in the community. One was slightly lower, but at the end of the contract it would have cost us more to bring it back in-house if we weren’t satisfied. Also, we were warned that we could be prohibited to do so under the rules of NAFTA.

Chuck Puchmayr, MLA, New Westminster

 



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