This weeks column from 24Hrs Vancouver: Focus on labour peace ignores underfunding

Who wins this week? Columnists Laila Yuile and Kathryn Marshall battle over the issues of the day.

This week’s topic:

Does Christy Clark’s 10-year education plan address the real issues in education?

Politicians who use children in photo-ops always come across as incredibly insincere. And seeing Premier Christy Clark this week in a classroom full of children waxing concern over non-interrupted education? Well, it was too much for my stomach. Turn the channel.

The irony is not lost on anyone old enough to remember Clark was the education minister behind Bills 27 and 28. These legislative changes were drafted so poorly and were so inherently flawed that nearly a decade later the trickle-down impact is still hampering every child’s ability to learn in the public school system…

Clark seems to think the only thing hampering education is labour strife with teachers. In her promotional video for the new 10-year education proposal, she states: “We owe this to our children. Their learning shouldn’t be compromised by the inability of adults to reach agreements.” And I agree — children shouldn’t be held hostage by any agenda, whether labour-driven or politically motivated.

Read Kathryn Marshall’s column.

However, when you look at Clark’s prior record as education minister, most of the issues that children, teachers and parents are dealing with in B.C. are the direct result of years of chronic underfunding to both programs and facilities. Changes in funding models and designations during her tenure nearly 10 years ago resulted in targeted, drastic cuts to special-needs funding that left teachers, students and parents foundering in the system. And again, it’s the children who suffer as a result.

I don’t see anything in this proposed 10-year framework that deals with any of it.

There is nothing to deal with a special-needs child who requires assistance all day at school, but receives it for only four hours a day because that is what the guidelines allow. Yes, Christy, you did that. There is nothing to prevent one teacher from having four or five kids with what the system calls Individual Education Plans in the same classroom without assistance. That’s what many teachers are fighting to change — class size and composition. Yes, Christy, you did that too. And despite what the politicians would have you believe, those things have a bigger impact on every child’s ability to learn in a classroom setting than a labour disruption.

It’s likely going to take a 10-year plan to restore the educational components and funding Clark stripped a decade ago. But this plan tells me she hasn’t learned a thing since the last time she sat in government.

16 thoughts on “This weeks column from 24Hrs Vancouver: Focus on labour peace ignores underfunding

  1. “The goal of a 10-year agreement is simple and ambitious – give Grade 2 students a chance to go their entire school career without a disruption.” Premier Christy Clark

    A Ten Year Collective Agreement will not help the students in Grade 2 to make it to Graduation Day in Grade 12 because the Contract runs our at the end of Grade 11. Christy Math is haywire. She’s making the False assumption because she’s used simple math to subtract 2 away for 12…. which is 10. In this instance she’s forgotten to INCLUDE Grade 2!

    Plus why are Grade 1 students being left out of the mix? Probably because Christy can only Count to Ten. There should be a FSA test for the BC Liberals and it should be made public before we go to the Polls.


  2. Good argument, but the one point you both missed is the staggering amount of money we’re paying to government education liaisons and bureaucracy. Both of those need to be reigned in if we’re serious about fixing the education system Christy destroyed a decade ago.


  3. well laila, you win that one due to disqualification.

    marshall uses numbers from 2002 and 2012 yet fails to account for inflation. to be blunt her numbers are wrong. and when she says that funding for education has gone up she is lieing. disqualified for using faked numbers…. i wonder if she gets a discount on her liberal party of BC membership for publishing misleading numbers.

    in fact it has remained essentially the same while other rules have changed.. as you point out.


    1. It’s interesting, isn’t it, because you really need to dedicate more than a small column to see how the spending has changed and how classes have changed.

      I agree with her that tossing more money at a problem doesnt fix it- in this case the changes Clark made directly resulted in targeted hits to areas that seriously impact classroom function. What also isn’t factored into all of it is how much of the $$ that go to school districts actually goes to education – there are ongoing seismic upgrades, facility repair and rehab, etc etc. In the Surrey school district, the only one growing exponentially, the $$ arent keeping pace with the population and we are so far behind on school builds, that when the new schools announced by the province last year are actually built, they will already be overcrowded on the day they open.

      It’s not a singular issue, but the fact is that specific areas have been targeted for cuts for years, and those issues drastically impact how kids are able to function. There is one reader who comments about a friend sitting in as an observer in a classroom not able to function propertly… and this happens all over the province.


  4. As stated above her numbers are out of whack. In fact she proves that the Education Budget now is 9% less. Also, if she was paying attention, this set of negotiations is not about money. What this government has done is criminal regarding Special Needs. But with a recent court decision on the North Shore this could change the whole spectrum of Special Education. What the Liberals have been creating in the last 10 years is a movement towards a user-pay system. This is supported by the increase in Independent School enrolment, and the Fraser Institutes so-called ranking of schools without any consideration for the socio-economic situation of these schools. Inside the schools we have;

    – fewer librarians
    – fewer teacher aids or special needs assistants
    – fewer special ed teachers
    – too many special needs students in one classroom, without proper support staff or learning assistance
    – some teachers not trained in Special Education having to deal with special needs students
    – textbooks that are out of date or unusable
    – supplies, the bulk of, having to be purchased by parents, and/or teachers
    – inadequate classroom space as evidenced by the trailers parked on school grounds and called
    classrooms, hot in spring, cold in the winter
    – a hodgepodge of policies regarding bullying, discipline, marking, supervision, advancing students
    to the next level when they are not ready
    – principles virtually having little input to transfers of teachers, or hiring based on that schools needs
    – a misguided seniority system for teachers

    Public Schools not given the money to improve grounds, equipment, and all of the above and etc. has made the decision easy for parents to send their children to Independent Schools. The way the Lib’s are going there will be wire fences around schools, guards at the doors, plexi-glass inbetween students and teachers in classrooms, which exists in some parts of North America where underfunding exists, and more and more parents putting their children into private schools, if they can afford it, or if the child is gifted enough to get a scholarship to these private schools. It’s called User-Pay.

    When CC went to University the entrance requirement at S.F.U. was a 2.00. Lucky her, you can’t get in the door now with that. She fixed her student elections to get elected at S.F.U., got caught, tried it again , got caught, and dropped out. Sound familiar?

    Being an educator in a former life, it is now a realization that a teacher must be a teacher of cirriculum, a counselor, a social worker, a fund raiser, an intermediator, a special needs expert, and
    still wear a smile and get your marks in on time. God forbid if you fail anybody.


  5. An excellent comment. Excellent. It’s time for the government to take a hard look at what isnt working in classrooms specifically and understand how to fix that. And its an overlapping problem as well, with the ministry of health.

    Often parents have to wait up to two years to get a diagnosis in the public system, or pay thousands to have a private one done if they have the money. Often for many kids, a diagnosis isnt reached until school starts. Then when a diagnosis is finally reached, thats not the magic moment when a child starts to get treatment by far. In fact, often families will have to wait even longer because there is a backlog of patients waiting for treatment and only so many health professionals out there to provide it.

    So imagine a child, going to school, undiagnosed, so therefore unable to have any supports in the classroom. Imagine how one child like that can impact how a classroom functions. Now imagine a child with learning or medical disabilities, with no diagnosis, no help, combined with another child or two that do have a diagnosis, but the school system doesnt recognize that diagnosis. So you have one teacher trying to teach up to 25 kids, three that have needs that require help but arent getting it, and tell me how that one teacher can deal with that.

    Another issue is that when a child does qualify for assistance and help, and the school gets extra funding for that child, not all the funding goes to that child, but to help all kids with needs in that school.

    Its a very complex issue, but I believe if the government bureacrats actually asked to sit in a classroom with this issue and observe, it would be a reality check beyond imagine.


  6. Unfortunately, all true. The best way to get tested and approved is to scream, yell, and threaten till one gets results. The sad thing is that in some of these schools, staff get demoralized, and start teaching to the middle of the class, ignoring the exceptional students at both ends of the spectrum, as their resources are low or non-existant, time does not allow it, and their motivation disappears. Not all, God bless them, but a lot of them. Further adding to the problem is good educators dropping out, good young people not going into education because of these problems (who needs that hassle), and the result is a lower quality of education, as you are discouraging the best people to pursue their vocation. Add to the problem that principal’s not having autonomy over their schools, and being forced to take a teacher on a transfer in which they have no need for in that area of expertise. Being forced to put teacher’s in an area that is not in their area of expertise. It’s like sending a plumber to do an electrician’s job, it would never happen in any other union in the world, but it happens here. Plus, you have a system which is top heavy, both in personal and wages paid. A Premier who dropped out or flunked out, unqualified Ministers filling out their agenda’s, which are not in the best interests of education, a union with a group of zealots with unreasonable philosophy’s, and the result is what we have.


  7. Gordon Campbell thieved and sold everything out of this province, he got his hands on. He had the lowest minimum wage of $8.00 per hour. He had the highest number of children living in poverty. He had the highest number of children, going to school hungry. He gave himself, a $60,000 per year salary hike. Campbell made sure he stuffed his coffers full and, to hell with the children and the people of BC. To hell with our children’s special needs. Instead of looking after BC’s children? We get the stupid smart meters, among other ridiculous crap.

    $1 million salary to the CEO of BC Ferries. Incentive bonuses for those who, cheat the people out of their services, which we pay through the nose for. We all know the BC Liberals bucket list from a long time back, during Campbell’s reign of terror.

    Christy had every opportunity to fix some of Campbell’s thefts and corruption. Christy chose not to. Instead, we pay for those asinine TV ads. It is an exercise in futility to think, Christy gives a damn about our teachers and children. She is no more capable of that, than Campbell was. Our children are who are paying the price for….The Campbell/Clark BC Liberals, corruption, thefts and greed.


  8. Yes, and Campbell had to hide behind his family (wifes skirt) and complain how it was so unfair to focus on him and his lies and broken promises.
    What a bunch of real losers BC has in power at the legislature in the BC LieBeral Party !
    I see an alost 100% win by the opposition (NDP,Greens and Independents) come the next election !


  9. Yes but every school district seems to have had the money to hire more administrators for their board offices. No painting of the inside of the schools ,hardly any maintenance and layoffs at the bottom.


  10. Christy Clark’s ” 10 year offer” to the teachers is nothing more than a photo op. The electioneering is underway and this pathetic attempt at “reaching a consensus” with the teachers is mere pandering to the voters. Unfortunately most voters dont give a s##t about “pie in the sky” 10 year contracts. Nor should they. They’re too busy working to pay their bills and taxes ( When DOES the HST get booted? Oh ! Right! Just before the election…..)
    The teachers have no intention of even considering signing ANY contract be it 1 year or 10 years before the May election.
    Why would they? A union friendly govt is on its way in.
    This is smoke and mirrors. Nothing more. A chance for Ms Clark to pose in front of the cameras, smile, spout a few well rehearsed generalities about ” its all about the children, consensus with labour, blah,blah,blah.’ ad nauseum.
    I feel sorry for Adrian Dix, I have a feeling the financial cupboards are bare and the unions wont get anything more than the Libs would have given them….
    Oh well, if the NDP are 1 term wonders as they usually are. Who really cares? At least it will sweep the corrupt liberal swine from office.
    But it will be fun on election night wont it….. 🙂


Comments are closed.