Letter: B.C. gov't balancing its budget ‘on backs of students, teachers’
To the editor
Reply to: B.C. Gov’t ‘At War’ with Teachers’ Union, March 6 Capital News.
The issue of class size and composition is a matter of policy? Only if we’re talking about fiscal policy. What happened to statements from the recent Speech from the Throne about additional or increased funding needed to maintain K-12 internationally competitive academic achievement, facilities upgrade, trades programming, special education and Grade 12 completion?
We should be impatient with ongoing Liberal attempts to balance the budget on the backs of students and teachers. Real educational policy is concerned with the success of every taxpayer’s child and their potential citizenship in a healthy society as well as a sustainable, prosperous economy. An educated citizen is not a cheap proposition. Students today are inheriting a complex, fast-paced, challenging world. Plus, students are depending on us to provide safe and empowering school cultures. Unpredictable classroom size and composition do not provide continuity nor stability for students. These are not ‘widgets’ or ‘stats’ or ‘bills’ or ‘policies’ we are talking about. These are students making their way through their schooling as best they can, depending on parents, teachers and student support services along their way. If teachers don’t hold firm on the conditions for teaching and learning within classrooms, then students suffer and school cultures deteriorate.
All students are vulnerable in crowded classrooms. Children and youth do not have a political voice, so teacher advocacy is imperative. Teachers accept the provincial goals for personalized learning, enhanced student achievement, and healthy intellectual, social, and career development among students under our care. But this is a lion’s share of society’s goals and teachers expect provincial support. Furthermore, court cases to deconstruct the contractual obligations toward B.C. students is a waste of time, effort, valuable tax dollars and destructive to public relations generally. But worse yet, this disrespects the profession of teaching and the value of our children and youth.
Class size and composition are sacred because what happens in our classrooms defines the future of employment, underemployment, or unemployment.
I challenge the B.C. Ministry of Education to prove they value the students in our province by honouring all obligations to protect classrooms.
Devon Wolfe, BEd MSc
UBCO grad student,