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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 6, April 2005

President’s message

Right now we are facing one of the most important moments in the history of public education in our province. The current provincial election campaign will be one of the tightest races ever, and the stakes have never been higher for students and for teachers.

Readers are well aware of the devastating impact of BC Liberal policies in our schools and communities. Just imagine what the situation will be four years from now if those policies are not reversed.

At our recent Annual General Meeting, we heard from Jukka Sarjala, a Finnish educator who inspired us with his account of the respectful relations between the teachers’ union and government, and the outstanding results their system creates through a deep commitment to quality and equality.

Closer to home, we have the example of Ontario, where the Harris Tories intentionally set out to create a crisis in education. Like the BC Liberals, they cut hundreds of millions of dollars and destabilized the system through rapid, unfunded changes.

Ontario teachers knew they had to get engaged in the political process if they were going to stop the Harris wrecking ball. And their hard work paid off with the election of the Ontario Liberals, an education-friendly government that recently signed an accord that provides for 5,000 more elementary teachers. It will significantly improve teachers’ working lives and enhance learning opportunities for students.

What’s the lesson for us from Ontario? We have to ensure that we do everything possible in our power to elect a government that respects teachers, restores our bargaining rights, and provides the resources necessary to do the job professionally and with pride.

Over the last three years, we have managed to keep education front and centre in the public dialogue. In recent months, we have made it a vote-determining issue. In the upcoming days, we need to help ensure people get to the polls and vote for public education.

Thank you for all your hard work, in your classrooms, communities, and constituencies.

Jinny Sims

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