The Ministry of Education has finally acknowledged that conditions in some classes may be beyond what is acceptable. However, this admission did not come until yesterday at the final Learning Round Table meeting of the school year.
BCTF President Irene Lanzinger pointed out that the school year is almost over and students have faced unacceptable conditions for a whole school year. Lanzinger was responding to information provided by the Ministry of Education at the round table meeting.
“Even more disturbing,” Lanzinger said, “is that Minister of Education Shirley Bond told us that there would be no more resources next year to deal with class-size and class-composition problems.”
During this current school year, more than 10,000 classes have four or more students with special needs. Some have as many as 10 students with special needs in a single class, according to the data finally released by the ministry.
“From the reports we have been getting, larger classes with higher numbers of students with special needs will be an even greater problem next year,” Lanzinger said. “School districts around the province have been forced to cut budgets and some have laid off teachers because of budget shortfalls.”
“Teachers hoped that the Learning Round Table would lead to improvements in classroom conditions when it was set up as part of the settlement of the teachers’ strike in October 2005,” Lanzinger said. “Unfortunately, the round table has been a great disappointment. Despite our best efforts, it hasn’t led to adequate learning conditions for students or working conditions for teachers. It’s turned out to be little more than window dressing.”
“In the early days of the round table, Premier Campbell attended the meetings,” pointed out Lanzinger. “However, once Bill 33 was passed, the premier seems to have lost interest. He has not come back to hear the message that the problems have not been solved and that the government must increase funding if the public schools are to meet the needs of all students.
See summary of Learning Round Table meetings.