“One full year after the BCTF's historic win at the Supreme Court of Canada on November 10, 2016, BC schools have seen a lot of positive changes that are worth celebrating-even as the work to fully implement teachers' restored collective agreement language continues,” said BCTF President Glen Hansman.
“It's been a busy, challenging, and exciting year since we won our landmark victory at the Supreme Court of Canada last November,” said Hansman. “Teachers' restored collective agreement language means smaller class sizes, more specialists like counsellors working with students, full-time teacher-librarians back in libraries, and even the re-opening of some closed schools.
“Across BC, we have welcomed over 3,000 new teachers into our schools and there's still more to come. These positive changes are due to the hard work and determination of BCTF members right across our province.”
“Unfortunately, we're seeing some school districts play shell games with specialist-teacher ratios and other support levels for students. This is getting in the way of making the improvements to class composition that our schools and students need. The shell games, combined with an ongoing shortage of teachers teaching on call, means children with special needs are not always getting the support they need and are entitled to. Too often, specialists are getting reassigned from their work with small groups of students to cover absences in classrooms.”
Hansman also shares the concerns raised by the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils(BCCPAC) last week following the release of a parent survey on support for children with special needs. BCCPAC's survey of parents found that too many children with special needs are being denied their specific educational program, being sent home early, or being told to stay home entirely due to understaffing.
“In addition to specific problems in certain districts, many areas-especially northern, rural, remote, and Francophone schools-are still struggling to fill vacancies in speciality areas and get enough members on their teachers teaching on call lists.”
Despite these ongoing challenges, Hansman said he is proud of what the BCTF has accomplished since the landmark victory at the Supreme Court of Canada one year ago.
“Much has been gained that is benefitting our students, but we still have a long way to go. BC teachers will continue to push school districts, the government, and the BC Public School Employers' Association to properly implement the restored collective agreement language and provide the necessary resources to improve every student's learning conditions.”