Protect Public Education Now (PPEN) and Support for BC Teachers invite you to join us on the steps of the BC Legislature Monday, August 25 at 2:00 pm. We have invited Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender to accept over 9,000 signatures. As they have not responded, we will present the signatures to Education Critic Rob Fleming, who will deliver them to the Premier and Education Minister on behalf of BC students, parents and teachers who are urgently calling for a fair deal that will allow school to resume in September.
The petition will be delivered by parent advocate Jordan Watters and grade eight student Julia Pante. Julia delivered an initial batch of signatures to Premier Clark’s constituency office earlier in the summer, along with a shiny red apple symbolizing hope that school would resume in September. On Monday, we will be delivering a sapling apple tree which we would like to see planted at the Legislature when the government reaches an agreement with teachers – an agreement that we hope will bear the fruits of adequate investment in public education.
Julia will also be bringing more apples – 30 to be exact – the number of students in a typical BC classroom.
Please spread the word about this event and reply to our facebook event if you will be attending! https://www.facebook.com/events/592566354185911/
Please encourage your friends to sign the petition! http://www.thepetitionsite.com/373/030/758/premier-clark-negotiate-with-teachers-to-protect-public-education/
August 21, 2014
An Open Letter to the Premier of British Columbia
Dear Premier Clark,
I am a BC parent who is deeply concerned about public education in our province. As such, I have joined with other parents to found a group called Protect Public Education Now.
I am heartened that your government and the BCTF are in discussion, and that Mr. Fassbender has said your priority is a negotiated agreement, rather than back-to-work legislation. Many parents have lost faith in your government’s understanding of the value of public education. Making a deal with the BCTF that is fair and in the interests of BC students will be a step in the direction of restoring confidence.
There are many who wrongly believe that this dispute is primarily about what teachers are paid. Of course, you know otherwise — salaries are not at the crux of the matter. The two parties are less than 1% apart on wages. What teachers are fighting for is a fund of $225 million to correct the problems caused by the illegal removal of class size and composition limits from their contract. While the courts have ruled against the government in this matter two times already, you are persisting in appealing their decision. Therefore, the teachers have asked for adequate resources to provide specialist teachers and aides, to address the currently problematic learning conditions.
Today, over 12,000 classrooms have four or more children with special needs documented by an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Prior to 2002, there was a limit of three children with IEPs per class, and class sizes could also be adjusted downward by the administration to offset the time required by teachers to address the needs of these students. Today, teachers have reported classes in which up to 50% of the students in a given class have special needs; in such situations, educators are hard pressed to meet the needs of students with IEPs as well as the rest of their students. And these numbers don’t even account for the thousands of children with special needs who have not been formally assessed, because of cuts to the number of educational psychologists working in the BC system.
In BC, we have the second worst per student funding in Canada, and the worst ratio of educators to students. This is appalling. We have an excellent public education system, but for many years now, that quality has been maintained through the strenuous efforts of teachers, administrators and parents to compensate for chronically underfunded conditions. If BC is be a compassionate and democratic province, we need a robust public education system that meets the needs of children at all socio-economic levels, and gives them a shot at a prosperous and healthy future.
Please heed the very reasonable demands of the BCTF. You cannot argue that their requests are outside of an “affordability zone” when the province is running a fiscal surplus, and your finance minister projects fiscal surpluses for the next three years. You have offered to pay parents $40 per student, per day for childcare, should school not resume in September. At 30 children per class, this means $1,200 per classroom, per day, that you are willing to pay to have our kids stay home instead of attending school! Instead of putting taxpayers’ money towards this costly and cynical band-aid proposal, please agree now to give the teachers the resources they need to address the learning challenges of our kids.
Let the teachers and the kids get back to class, and the parents and kids start planning now for a prompt start to the school year on September 2nd – please!
Parent and Co-founder of Protect Public Education Now
cc. All BC MLAs
BC Conference of Parent Advisory Councils
British Columbia Teachers’ Federation
Patti Bacchus, Vancouver School Board Chair
Customize our template letter, and please sent it to the representatives below. Please feel free to use e-mail, fax or Canada Post – or all three! And note that elected representatives are required by law to respond to mail received via Canada Post.
Christy Clark, Premier
Fax Number: (250) 387-0087
Peter Fassbender, Education Minister
301A-15930 Fraser Highway
Surrey, British Columbia
Fax Number: (250) 387-3200
Rob Fleming, NDP Education Critic,
1020 Hillside Ave.
Victoria BC V8T 2A3
Fax Number: (250) 360-2027
Adrian Dix, MLA Vancouver – Kingsway
5022 Joyce St
Vancouver, BC V5R 4G6
Fax Number: (604) 660-1131
(Contact for your local MLA can be found at: http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm)
School District #39
1580 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6J 5K8
Fax Number: (604) 713-5049
Premier Christy Clark
Victoria, BC, V8V 1X4
Dear Premier Clark,
As the Vancouver School Board struggles to create a budget with the limited resources allocated for 2014-15, trustees have called for public input about Eduction Cuts. The Board, parents and citizens are faced with terrible fiscal trade-offs—music programs versus Gifted Education consultants, versus athletic coordinators, versus counsellors—versus other critical educational supports. As well, the VSB is considering more District Closure Days. And they are not alone. The Vancouver Sun, Apr. 17, reported shortfalls in 15 BC school districts. What an assault on our public education system!
As parents, citizens and supporters of Protect Public Education Now, we back all the initiatives under the gun—not just programs that matter to us personally—because all contribute to the healthy development of our children, communities and province. We want education to be funded at the level it deserves, so that your government can keep its election promises, including pledges to reduce class sizes and improve classroom composition province-wide.
If your government is to continue to claim that “families come first,” and “a strong economy starts with a strong workforce and that means investing in education,” then it must invest significantly, now, in these and other overdue improvements. In recent years, education budgets have been under assault, not just from direct funding cuts, but also the downloading of operating costs to school boards, as well as a significant portion of the cost of seismic upgrading.
A fully, sustainably funded public education system is the right of every child. Across Vancouver and throughout BC, citizens are therefore echoing the call from the District Parent Advisory Council: “Invest in our Children NOW. They are the Future.” Please listen and act now to supplement the 2014-15 Education Budget, before school boards are forced to further compromise our children’s education.
Yes, as taxpayers and citizens we are willing to pay a bit more to cover such a wise investment. We want public education to be a top priority of our government. Only this will avoid more educational deficits and debt burdening our economy and children for generations.
Protect Public Education Now (PPEN)
Marlene Rodgers Gillian Jerome Franco Pante
James Boothroyd Brad Cran Jody Woods
cc. Peter Fassbender, Education Minister
Rob Fleming, Education Critic
Adrian Dix, MLA Vancouver-Kingsway
Patti Bacchus, Chairperson, Vancouver School Board