BCTF President Glen Hansman welcomed the announcement of Rob Fleming as the province's new Minister of Education and said, “The BC Teachers' Federation will be moving quickly to meet with Minister Fleming to discuss important matters that need immediate attention. First and foremost, BC's teachers and parents are looking for quick action to get the political direction and required funding in place for proper implementation of our recent Supreme Court win, and to provide school boards with the urgently needed additional operational funding to begin reversing 16 years of cuts to the public education system in BC.”
With the first day of school quickly approaching, Hansman said there is a lot of work to be done to ensure the next school year starts off on the right foot. “Providing the funding for the court win on its own without addressing the overall funding envelope will not ensure that the necessary teaching, support staff, and other frontline services are there for children, youth, and adult learners in September,” Hansman elaborated.
“The uncertainty created by the BC Liberal government in the weeks after the election had a very negative effect on the education system's ability to properly plan and meet budget deadlines,” said Hansman. “A lot of school districts reported that they didn't get the funding they believed they needed to fully implement our restored collective agreement language on class size and composition. All school districts continued to grapple with underfunding of the system as a whole. Consequently, rather than restoring and augmenting frontline services to students, cuts to teaching and support staff positions were occurring in many school districts around the province-compounding the effect of years and years of cuts that have already occurred. The new Minister of Education and Ministry staff need to move quickly to ensure school districts get the significantly improved funding and resources they need by September to make up for the previous government's shortfalls.”
“There are many other needs that must be addressed, including support for curriculum implementation, recruitment and retention, Aboriginal education, new school construction, seismic upgrading, the school experience of students from equity-seeking groups, and needs unique to remote and rural communities,” says Hansman. “I look forward to discussing these and many other issues with the new Minister of Education over the months to come; this summer, though, BC teachers are looking for quick action to address the urgent funding matters to ensure that proper teaching and learning conditions are in place this September.”