The BC Teachers’ Federation welcomes the appointment of a new minister of education—Shuswap MLA George Abbott.
“We are heartened by this development and look forward to building a productive working relationship with Mr. Abbott,” said BCTF President Susan Lambert. “The teaching profession needs to be involved and engaged in shaping education policy, and we expect that the new minister will want to work with the BCTF to address the many challenges in schools across our province.”
Lambert identified underfunding as the most critical issue affecting all aspects of public education. Over the past decade, relative spending on K–12 education has fallen steadily as a percentage of the provincial budget. It has resulted in the closure of 191 public schools, the loss of about 3,000 teaching positions, 12,000 overcrowded classes, and a decline in services to students with special needs.
“Coming up to an important round of collective bargaining for 41,000 teachers and amidst rumours of a significant top-down policy shift in public education, Mr. Abbott’s appointment to this portfolio takes place at a critical time,” Lambert said. “The cause of quality public education for every student is best served in a context of respectful collaboration between government and the professionals in the schools. We expect to begin a new dialogue with the new minister very soon.”
Lambert said she would be contacting Mr. Abbott to offer congratulations and to seek a meeting at the earliest possible date.