BCTF Online Museum

2003 The Charter for Public Education

The Charter for Public Education imageMany British Columbians expressed their hopes and dreams as a panel traveled the province, trying to develop a focus that both expressed values and provided a framework for future decisions about public education.

The panel members heard passionate dialogue about education from thousands of people in 42 communities around the province and received 620 written submissions.

These questions were posed at each hearing:

  • What is an educated person; what are their characteristics?
  • Which of these characteristics are developed through the public schools?
  • What is an educated community?
  • What are the principles of public education?

The result is The Charter for Public Education, published in 2003, as a starting point for dialogue and change in public education.

The Charter was an inspiration for educators and communities beyond the borders of B.C., as well as a touch point for ongoing efforts to strengthen public education in B.C.  Its principles have stood up well over time.

Although the Charter was an initiative of the BCTF, the panel who wrote it represented a range of community interests. An Anglican priest, Rev. Margaret Marquardt, chaired the Charter panel. The other members were: Dr. John Moss, a former superintendent of schools; Kathy Whittam, a step-parent of a student with special needs; George Watts, former president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council; and David Chudnovsky, past-president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

Some quotes from the Charter:

Public Education is a Sacred Trust.

As a community we promise to prepare learners for a socially responsible life in a free and democratic society, to participate in a world which each generation will shape and build. We promise a public education system which provides learners with knowledge and wisdom, protects and nurtures their natural joy of learning, encourages them to become persons of character, strength and integrity, infuses them with hope and with spirit, and guides them to resolute and thoughtful action.

Everyone has the right to a free, quality public education.

Each first nation has the right to be recognized and respected by those within the educational institutions located in their traditional territory.