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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 3, Nov./Dec. 2006

Bill 33 misgivings

This letter was sent to the Comox Valley School District superintendent on September 25, 2006:

We, the teachers of Highland Secondary School, would like to register our misgivings about Bill 33 and its implementation. We are concerned that this bill has created the false impression that class sizes at the secondary level are being addressed. Furthermore, we fear that our participation in the "consultation" process may indicate that we have had real input into the size and composition of our students’ classes.

Bill 33 apparently mandates class size maximums of 30 and limits of 3 students with special needs per class. We would be remiss in our duty to the public and to our students if we did not categorically state that no such limits have been (or can be) observed at our school. In fact, class sizes at Highland are larger than they have ever been, with 61 classes over 30 and 48 classes with more than 3 provincially designated special needs students. There is no doubt that the widespread public support of our job action last fall was due to our commitment to reasonable class size and composition. We deeply regret that no advances have been made—despite government rhetoric to the contrary.

Under the legislation, "consultations" must occur between administration and all secondary teachers with classes in excess of the numbers quoted above. At Highland, this meant that 35 of our 39 teaching staff have been "consulted." Because there are no resources to ameliorate any of these violations, these consultations are meaningless. Not a single class size at Highland has been reduced courtesy of Bill 33. The end result is simply that time that could be better spent on education and administration has been wasted on a ruse designed to give the public the false impression that the government is addressing a crucial educational issue.

Let us not mince words. Bill 33 is a public-relations exercise. Your teachers will continue to advocate for learning conditions that optimize the educational opportunities for all students and that allow for individual attention for all students, regardless of ability.

That is our job.

Teaching staff, Highland Secondary School, Comox.

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