I gloated for days after the B.C. Supreme Court found that the government had unconstitutionally stripped teachers’ contacts and then bargained in bad faith during the last round of negotiations.
It was schadenfreude — the sense of joy we get from the suffering of others. To see Christy Clark lambasted by the pundits and the public for her foolish and illegal decisions of 2002 and 2011 made me giddy.
The giddiness ended soon, however, when I started to consider the irreparable damage that Clark and the Liberal government inflicted upon students and teachers in B.C. during their more-than-decade-long assault on public education. How many students have suffered because they’ve not had the resources they’ve needed?
In its most recent appeal of the court’s decision, the government claims that the cost of returning to class-size and composition language of 2002 would be $1 billion. If that’s the case, then parents with kids in the system today should be asking why their children are not getting the same services in public schools as students a decade ago.
None of that billion dollars goes into teachers’ pockets. It’s all about class size and supports for students. In our district, for example, we’ve seen teacher-librarian and ESL teacher time cut in half. The number of counsellors and special education teachers has also been hacked. Class sizes in many areas — high school English and sciences to name but two — have also increased.
One statistic I’ve read is that students in B.C. are funded $1,000 less per year than the Canadian average. Why is investment in our kids not as important as in other provinces? It begs the question of the government’s agenda.
Patti Bacchus, chair of the Vancouver School Board, may have hinted at her thoughts when she tweeted about Clark upon learning of the appeal: “If putting your child in an elite private school and then taking the boots to the public system is what passes for leadership…”
Through underfunding, provoking conflict with teachers and increasing funding to private schools, Clark — our “family first” premier — seems determined to destroy the public’s faith in the public system to promote the private. Why? Simple economics: each student in the private system costs the taxpayer only half as much as one in the private.
But the real cost of these “savings” is incalculable. And that’s nothing any of us should gloat over.