Write to BC MLAs
Please customize this letter and send to BC MLAs – email addresses below.
Open Letter to Christy Clark
Premier of British Columbia
Box 9041. Station PROV GOVT
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1
Re: Two simple steps — say YES to binding arbitration and Abide By the Court’s Decision (ABCD)
Dear Premier Clark,
I am writing to you today to let you know that I care about access to good public education in this province. I am calling on you to be accountable to the citizens of this province and to honour the last two judgements of the BC Supreme Court regarding class size and composition by dropping the costly appeal scheduled for this fall. I urge you, in the best interests of all citizens of BC, to end the strike now and get our teachers and children back to school by saying YES to binding arbitration.
The aggressive tactics of your government over the summer insult the intelligence of those of us invested in the future of this province and undermine the democratic values that your office represents. You have repeatedly made misleading comparisons with other public sector unions, without acknowledging significant contextual differences. You have distorted details of the BCTF benefits package and failed to acknowledge the compromises that the BCTF has brought to the table. Your public communications are belied by the Liberal government’s historical failures to negotiate in good faith with the teachers — which are well documented and well known to British Columbians.
To lay blame on teachers and to repeatedly avoid making public education a priority by arguing that it is unaffordable reflects poor judgment. The citizens of BC know better. The province of British Columbia is not an impoverished province; it is unacceptable that we are one of the worst-ranked for education spending. We can afford to invest in the education of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens, no matter their ability or how much money their parents make. In fact, we insist upon such an investment; the quality of life of this generation, as well future generations, depends on it.
Your actions have created the current public education crisis. There are two things you can do immediately to rectify it: first, say YES to binding arbitration, so students can return to school. Secondly, ensure that they return to adequately funded classrooms, by withdrawing the government’s appeal of the BC Supreme Court ruling on class size and composition. Every child in BC deserves a classroom that is not overcrowded and is not compromised by untenable teaching conditions. Our tax dollars should be committed to ensuring that every child has access to a public education system we can all be proud of.
You can cut and paste the following list of BC MLAs into your e-mail address bar.
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Please customize this letter to reflect your own concerns about the state of education in this province. Your MLA may also be interested in receiving it.
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
List of BC MLAs https://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-7.htm
List of Mayors and Council http://bctf.ca/uploadedFiles/Public/mayor%20and%20council.pdf
Letters of Support for teachers http://www.bctf.ca/BargainingAndContracts.aspx?id=33210#Letters_from_SD
BC School Trustees Twitter List https://twitter.com/silaswhite/bc-trustees/members