VANCOUVER – Marking the 12th anniversary of Bill 28, the unconstitutional legislation that stripped teachers’ collective agreements, BCTF President Jim Iker said the result is that a generation of students in BC have been short-changed.
“Children who were in Kindergarten in 2002 when government illegally stripped class-size and class-composition language from our collective agreements are now in Grade 12,” said Iker. “The result is those students, an entire generation of BC kids, have spent their whole K–12 education in larger classes with less one-on-one-time and less support from specialist teachers like counsellors and special education teachers.”
Iker explained that stripping teachers’ working conditions from collective agreements actually enabled the government to underfund education, which has led to the deterioration of students’ learning conditions.
“It is because of the support of parents and the hard work of teachers, who are doing more with less, that BC’s public education system is still as strong as it is,” said Iker. “But more and more teachers are telling me that further cutbacks, or even the status quo, are unsustainable.”
Due to the government’s illegal actions in 2002 and subsequent underfunding, BC has fallen behind the rest of Canada in support for public education.
- BC is last on seven key measures of education funding in Canada.
- BC is second worst in terms of per-student funding at $1,000 less than the national average. Only PEI is doing worse.
- BC has the country’s worst student-educator ratio. That means there are more students per educator than anywhere else in Canada.
- There are over 16,000 classes, 25% of BC’s total, with four or more children with special needs in them. That is a staggering 70% since 2006. It means all kids are getting less one-on-one time with their teachers. And, it means kids who need extra help aren’t getting it.
- BC has lost 1,400 specialist teachers since 2002 even as the need for their services has gone up significantly. Close to 700 special education teachers, over 100 counsellors, and 300 teacher-librarians have all been cut from the system.
“After 12 years, with 2002’s Kindergarten class now graduating, it’s time to recognize that government has not lived up to British Columbians’ expectations,” said Iker. “It’s unacceptable that BC is the second worst in Canada on per-student funding and has the worst student-educator ratio. It’s time to end the cuts and begin to bring BC’s education funding up to at least the national average. That will give teachers and students the resources they need to make our public education system even better.”
For more on Bill 28, the 2011 court ruling that found it to be unconstitutional, and the BCTF’s further action to seek a remedy, read http://www.bctf.ca/NewsReleases.aspx?id=30560. Madame Justice Griffin of the BC Supreme Court is expected to release her judgment at some point this spring.
For more on education funding in BC, read http://www.bctf.ca/IssuesInEducation.aspx?id=29502