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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 20, Number 3, November/December 2007

President's message

When teachers went on strike in the fall of 2005, we had tremendous public support and sympathy. That public sentiment forced the government to make a commitment to deal with the major issue in the strike—class size and composition. The round table met the Monday after the strike ended. Both the premier and the education minister were there.

The following spring the government introduced the class-size and class-composition legislation. They said it was the beginning, it wasn’t perfect, and it would be reviewed. Unfortunately, they provided no additional funding to school boards to meet the limits in the legislation.

The message we hear from teachers is unequivocal. While there have been some small improvements in class sizes in elementary, there are still really serious problems with the composition of classes and class sizes at secondary schools. There are not enough specialist teachers for the students who need them. Many teachers are struggling to meet the needs of all the students in their classes.

We have called for a meeting of the round table as soon as possible. The premier has not attended a meeting of the round table for over a year. We will take his presence—or lack of it—at the next meeting as a sign of the seriousness of the government in keeping this promise to students and teachers.

Our input to the review of Bill 33 calls for major improvements to the legislation. We must have smaller class-size limits, enforceable limits for secondary schools, and guaranteed ratios for learning assistance teachers, special education resource teachers, librarians, counsellors, ESL teachers, speech language pathologists, and psychologists. And critically, we must have major education funding increases to ensure that boards can hire the teachers they need. They have the money: the government has a $4 billion surplus.

This fall we will be campaigning hard to force the province to live up to its promises. In late November, we ran print ads across the province. Locals will receive grants to help them engage in their own local campaigns to re-ignite the public support and interest that we achieved during our strike.

The Campbell government’s cavalier attitude towards public education is unacceptable. They have increased standardized testing and bureaucratic accountability measures but have done absolutely nothing to meet the desperate need of teachers in the classroom. This government is short-changing kids in this province. It has to stop.

Irene Lanzinger

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