An open letter to the parents of BC on the ongoing teachers dispute

This letter was sent to me this morning by a parent in Surrey who has been very involved in the school system for a very long time, with hopes that it will assist other parents in understanding part of what’s going on right now in the teachers dispute.

“As a parent of children who have been in the school system since the late 90’s I have a unique perspective on the current negotiations. I was in the system when class size and composition were in the teachers’ contract and quite frankly when the system worked. Here is a little history that many parents don’t know.

 There is a fable that class size and composition provided hard caps in the teachers’ contract. In fact no they did not. Classes often went over the caps, but there was a mechanism in place through grievance that allowed teachers to grieve their working conditions if they were over the caps.

Arbitrators had the ability to provide more teaching time to the class or extra SEA resources or more time from specialist teachers for example. Why is the important to today? Because they could also award cash. This provided a system of better supports for all children in the classroom, but it also provided a tipping point where the grievances became too expensive and schools were built.

http://www.ostu.ca/files/News%20-%20LCA%20-%201981-2001%20(Stripped%20Language).pdf

 

In 2002 the Liberal government introduced Bills 27, 28, and 29. Bills 27 and 28 dealt with the teachers and Bill 29 dealt with the Healthcare Workers. — Bill 27, the Education Services Collective Agreement Act, and Bill 28, the Public Education Flexibility and Choice Act. After the passing of the bills an understanding was created and the Healthcare Workers chose to take their case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and in 2007 was awarded the judgement below

http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/2366/index.do

Many thought the government would apply the decision in Heathcare Workers to teachers, however this did not happen and in 2011 Justice Griffin made her first ruling

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/11/04/2011BCSC0469.htm

 

It is important to note that Justice Griffin had one choice in disposing of the sections of Bills 27 and 28 that were ruled unconstitutional. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms dictate the disposal

  • (1)The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of Canada, and any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect. “

 

It is important to note that in the first ruling the parts of the legislation that stripped out the teacher’s right to class size and composition were voided and Justice Griffin gave the government one year to remedy the situation and deal with the cost implications of her decision. This ruling has never been appealed.

Rather than deal with the decision the government again passed legislation in the form of Bill 22. So off the BCTF went to court again. This time however Justice Griffin was less conciliatory.

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/CA/14/00/2014BCCA0075.htm

 

Why is this important to today? Please see the beginning, arbitrators had the right to award cash for past grievances.

Due to the time that has been allowed to pass and the thousands of classes that do not meet the language on the contract, conservative estimates owed to teachers is now over a billion dollars. The government needs a way to negate the past damages.

Everyone asks why now for the strike?

It all comes down to the appeal set to be heard in the Court of Appeal on October 13 and 14th.

The government needs to have the teachers sign away their rights to Justice Griffin’s decision. The government can’t legislate class size and composition again they need to have a collective agreement signed that negates those rights.

The Supreme Court of Canada has reaffirmed, in 2011, its decision in Healthcare Workers that governments cannot use legislation as a way to circumvent the collective bargaining process and cannot use legislation to impose working conditions subject to bargaining.

 Essentially E80 and E81, of the BCPSEA offer, are a get out of jail free card for the government failing to address the issues in Justice Griffin’s decision, which is why you should not count on the government legislating the teachers back to work.

 For parents this is your decision.

The only way our kids will go back to school prior to the Appeal Court hearing is if government feels enough pressure to do so.

My question for the government is, if they are so sure they will win at the court of appeal, why not take out both E80 and E81 and let the judicial chips fall where they may?”

Patricia Enair, Surrey BC.

95 thoughts on “An open letter to the parents of BC on the ongoing teachers dispute

  1. Thanks for the back story. NOW the whole damn thing makes more sense. In a non-nonsensical way, anyway. That education of children should become so Machiavellian is abominable. That politicians should be so slimy and that the good of the people counts for so little is criminal. Oh, God, it is time for a change in the way things are done…in all walks of our modern life.

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    1. Laila

      Yes well Clark won’t be mentioning the governments part in her press releases anytime soon, so what else can we expect? She’s all ” Its sooo concerning to me that children aren’t in school!” …. bah. Not true. See where she was back in the day on this issue…

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  2. Julie

    This country is rotten to the core with corruption. I’m sure we recall Gordon Campbell’s reign of terror? Campbell twice lied and cheated to win his elections. Have BC citizens forgotten when, Christy Clark was Minister of Education?

    BC citizens have to change their mind sets. We can’t expect the best, from Christy Clark and her BC Liberal cabal. We must only expect the worst because, worst is all we have ever had from, the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals.

    The Campbell/Clark BC Liberals have never had any honor, decency, ethics, morals nor scruples, what-so-ever. Our BC Teachers deserve our support, the BC Liberals deserve nothing, other than our contempt.

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    1. Laila

      Why do you think so many ridings in Surrey go to Liberals? Its not all singles electing them!! Sullivan is very liberal as is south Surrey.
      Like fast food, you get what you pay for. Tastes good when you pay for it, not so much when you get indigestion….

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    1. It’s time to get the voters out to go against the Liberals. Can’t vote NDP. No one will forget the damage they did in the 70’s. Now what? As soon as the Toll Bridges started going up, I knew the government was not being ran properly. With all of the taxes on homes, fuel, income, casino royalties…. who the HELL can they not have enough money??? I’ll tell you why: TOO MANY EMPLOYEES! They have to fire hundreds of unnecessary people. That is the only way to start bringing down debt and getting this province straightened out. You have to run the Province like a company. You can’t gross $100,000 per year and pay out $120,000. You will be dead in the water. The Government just keeps spending and handing the bill to it’s citizens. This HAS TO STOP.

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      1. Actually, MO, you have it wrong. It is not too many employees that is at fault although I admit that too many (if that was true) would not help matters. The real problem is that we sell our resources too cheaply (no value added logs!) and we spend our public money on stupid things like the Olympics. We pay too much for ‘projects’ like the Port Mann bridge and Skytrain. We squander our real resources and we give away those taxes you complain about to corporations who feather the politician’s nests. But worse, the govt. can’t even run their monopolies properly (BC Hydro, BC Ferries, etc.). The actual employees are the least of the problem – what they earn, they spend on living from day to day. Don’t blame the victims, MO. The crimes are being committed higher up..

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        1. Wildgoose…it was MO’s opinion. Aren’t you a rude goose! As a matter of fact our whole province thrives on making money, losing money and saving money as well as giving money! Pretty sure the same logistics as a business!!!!

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        2. Eric O'Dell

          goose………….democracy is the most important part of our culture. While we may not agree with the opinion of others it is uncalled for to name call. It lowers us to the level of dictatorships……..I want to retain my right to choose………right or wrong

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          1. Well, in Wildgoose’s defense: if the shoe fits…………..
            And let us not fall into that old saw about the sanctity of Democracy. We lost that a long time ago with first-past-the-post and the limited-selection-party system.
            C’mon guys….I agree that civility should be the first response – even the second. Maybe more. People can and do make errors, after all. But if the same error is repeated time and time again, shouldn’t we abandon whatever it is we are doing so as to change the disappointing results? Isn’t it time to look at the institutions and systems that cheat and lie to you? You will never vote out the bad guys. Why? Because the system rewards the bad guys. They are the ones who join parties, run and get elected. And now they use robocalls and the media and such to screw even the mechanism of voting. No one wants to face it – the system is broken. And we have to fix it. Or, at the very least, I understand Wildgoose wanting to vent his spleen by calling others names.

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  3. “….. Premier Clark says teachers deserve a raise, but noted that the agreement has to be fair to taxpayers and other public-sector workers who have already signed contracts.”

    Hmmm. What Clark is suggesting, “signed contracts”, would require ALL of the unions negotiating new collective agreements at the same time, not piecemeal, playing one union contract against others. Wouldn’t that be a imperfect world for any government to contend with?

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    1. Newly cynical and loving it!

      …well, they have a point on this as most of the settled contracts have a clause which states that if another union negotiates better terms for itself, then those terms carry over to the other contract. Just saying…

      But I still hate the Liberals alright. Splitters!

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      1. Your reference to “me-too” clauses are false, at least as far as it pertains to the BCTF. BCFed of Labour confirmed that no union in BC has such a clause relating to teachers’ contracts… probably because no union in BC figures on teachers getting bigger raises than themselves.

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  4. Laila

    Some essential reading as well….. from Christy Clarks time as an education minister

    “COMMENTARY · 15th April 2011

    Supreme Court’s Verdict on BC Liberal Education Record

    Robin Austin

    The true character of Premier Christy Clark was revealed by the B.C. Supreme Court this week with a ruling that showed that the B.C. Liberals broke the law when they stripped teachers of their right to fight for better classroom conditions for children.

    This illegal legislation that Christy Clark supported hurt our children, by increasing average class sizes, and reducing the number of supports for students like ESL assistants, teaching-librarians, and special needs aides in our schools.

    Christy Clark, who was education minister at the time, told parents that the legislation was intended to give them more choice, but the courts found that the biggest reason that the B.C. Liberals passed the legislation was so that they could cut money from classrooms. The evidence presented in the Supreme Court shows that far from putting families first, the illegal legislation that Ms. Clark strongly supported put cuts before kids.

    Instead of working with teachers to reduce class sizes and increase supports for children, Ms. Clark supported illegal actions that were aimed at cutting the education budget. What’s worse, is that she told parents one thing, and did another.

    Christy Clark claims parents supported her actions, but the Supreme Court ruling shows that Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberal government misled parents. The Judge who struck down the law even went so far as to say that as far as the B.C. Liberal government’s evidence was so poor that “it would be unfair to give it any weight for the truth of its contents.”

    This ruling shows that Christy Clark was more interested in slashing education funding than ensuring our children get the best education available. We live in a time when it is more important than ever for our children to have access to high-quality public education in order to ensure that they will be able to meet the continuing challenges of an ever-changing and interconnected global economy. Our children deserve to have access to the best education we can give them, and our society needs our children to be prepared for the challenges of this century.

    New Democrats understand the important role that education plays in the lives of families and children. Christy Clark talks about putting ‘families first’ but actions speak much louder than words. By fighting against teachers who wanted to ensure that our children get the best education possible, and misleading parents while doing it, she showed that she can’t be trusted to act in the best interests of our children.

    This shouldn’t be surprising. Ms. Clark was the education minister who created the funding problems that school districts have today. School districts budgets used to be set more realistically, based on the costs that they had to cover. Ms. Clark changed it to an arbitrary formula which fails to ensure schools are given the basic, core funding they need to deliver services. That is why year after year school districts are making cuts.

    Budget pressure makes it more difficult for school districts to adapt easily to changing times, conditions and the needs of parents. For example, there is a lot of demand for Chinese language programs in our schools, but many times school districts have to struggle to offer these programs despite the demand. It is difficult to add new programs, even very popular programs if schools are trying very hard to find ways to deliver core services.

    Ms. Clark needs to take immediate action to act in compliance with the law and the B.C. Supreme Court judgement, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because the education of our children is hanging in the balance. If Ms. Clark chooses to fight with teachers instead of acting in the best needs of our children, parents will be certain that her talk of putting “families first” was nothing but more empty B.C. Liberal rhetoric.

    By Robin Austin

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  5. Education Minister Fassbender and Premier Christy Clark are doing exactly the same thing this time around as Commissioner Ted Hughes rebuked the BC Liberals
    …. In a scathing critique of the Liberal government’s stewardship of the child welfare system, former judge Ted Hughes said the government “took the knife too far” after it was elected in 2001 and must now restabilize the system that has more than 9,000 children under its care. source: http://www2.canada.com/vancouversun/features/review2006/story.html?id=51d911e9-5ccf-4663-8e3d-14745b33863e

    9,000 children then,
    300,000 under the age of 12 now; 13 and older can fend for themselves, eh

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  6. good letter. Not that I think that that witch is gonna do anything, but its a good letter. Speaking of which, do the Liberals think that the world is gonna end or some such thing to save them from having to actually get the schools peacefully open again or something?

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  7. John

    Clark and Co. aren’t even all that smart.

    They’re just being nasty and they’re trying their damndest to break the BCTF.

    And if they do, then who will be next?

    If you have doubts about their motive, you have rocks in your head.

    Funny, the more times goes by, the harder it is to try to find someone willing to admit they voted for this crew.

    And I don’t advocate giving the BCTF everything they want, there’s not a damn thing wrong with hard bargaining but after they way they’ve been treated, I think it’s impossible for the teachers to get a fair agreement in this province.

    I predict they’ll be legislated back to work and the bashing will continue.

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  8. I suspect that you are right. But there is an outside chance (million to one) that the teachers simply don’t go back to work anyway and prove the government impotent. Maybe, just maybe, this issue will catalyze the people. Do I believe that? Not for second. The ‘people’ don’t raise their voice in unison unless they perceive their wallets are in danger. The last time they squeaked was over the HST, fer Gawd’s sake. The government knows we are weak and they rely on it. And we prove them right time and again.

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  9. Pingback: Why The Teachers Have To Strike – Chilliwack Today

  10. John Law

    Are you suggesting that the NDP would be better at bargaining with the Unions? Check their record. There’s not a squeak out of them… Who do you suggest the alternative is to vote for? After the Portland Society fiasco I wouldn’t believe them if their “tongues came notarized.” I’m afraid this province is lacking leadership in every party. There is no one to lead us out of the wilderness and the Liberals know this. We’re in for a long hard ride.

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    1. Laila

      Iker himself said on air, that negotiations with the NDP would still be tough,but with a different tone. And I agree.

      And I think everyone here understands I am pro-people and not pro-party agenda.

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  11. John Realist

    The problem with those backing the teachers is an unrealistic world view. When my mother went to school classes were 40 or more and she still managed to learn graduate and eventually practice medicine.
    I see countless stories about ‘what out children deserve’. Here’s a wake up call for you: We don’t all have children and yet we’re all paying for those of you who do. While I understand the importance of education we all need to be realistic about resources. There has always been a limited amount of pie and the current reaction to that reality is to whine for more rather than accept that the PC viewpoint isn’t necessarily the moral high ground you assume it to be.

    Want your children to learn? Time to move ‘special needs’ children out of regular class rooms. I’ve known teachers who are assigned to one student who is incapable of feeding or toileting themselves. This student is likely to be dead within the next 10 years and will never be a functioning, contributing member of society. Yet I’m supposed to believe that said person deserves the full time attentions of a single specialized teacher? You can call it cruel but sane people will say it’s realistic. Limited pie to go around (and there is always limited pie) means you have to serve what’s available wisely. Try being sane, rational and reasonable instead of ‘righteous’ and ‘moral’ and you’ll find the resources will go much further.

    Teachers and parents remember: We’re all paying taxes but you’re the ones gaining the benefit of our loss. Please stop asking for more all of the time, it’s greedy, annoying and in truth a form of stealing. That’s not moral either.

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    1. John I suggest you go back to school and brush up on the laws in this country. Inclusion is here to stay and the most recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling guarantees special needs children the right to learn just as any other student no matter what it costs. I note that you have bought into the government kool aid, BC has the most crowded classrooms and the lowest paid teachers in the country, yet we have the 4th largest economy. I suggest you ask Christy how every other province can pay their teachers more and some have lower deficits than we do. I can tell you how, their corporate taxes are higher and they have better employment rates.

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    2. HA. In the old days, such as this critic mentions, special needs kids were outside the system. Imagine of those 40 kids in one class, 10 of them had varying degrees of learning disabilities, behavioural issues, or came from dysfunctional homes. That likely didn’t happen. But thanks for playing.

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    3. ESTW

      Geez! And how old is your mother? Yes, when I started teaching in the mid-70s, I didn’t have to feed my students, clothe my students or rescue them from grow-ops. You better believe it, at the end of my career, teachers at many schools are sponsoring breakfast clubs, take regular trips to the flea markets to buy socks, underwear…etc for our students. There are so many issues because students come to school loaded with family problems and addiction problems. Back then, most kids could sit still. Now, so many of them are flying around the classrooms. Back then, I didn’t have any special needs or ESL kids in my class. Now, the classes are just full of them. And I am not saying ESL kids are the problems. If it weren’t for the new immigrants, half of our schools would be closed. We need immigrants to keep our economy going. They are also taxpayers.

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    4. KP

      You are dead wrong.

      Everyone here can argue on specifics until they are blue in the face. Lets not get swept away in the details relating to the struggles the BCTF is having with the provincial government and look at this problem from a broad perspective. Too many people have the blinders on in general.
      This province is heading in the wrong direction. If you want to wait in an emergency room for 4 hours, or stand at the door while your mom lays face down and blue on the carpet while the paramedics have to respond from 15 km away, or the child with a learning disability is forgotten about in the corner of the room then continue to vote Liberal.

      It has become a trend in the past several years to hate paramedics, teachers, fireman, nurses and police. These professions are viewed as over paid and greedy. Professions that the “average” person would struggle to do and won’t understand until they have to walk a mile in their shoes. This is mainly because the media we are presented with is heavily biased because they are owned by big business and we all know who they support with regards to politics.

      Everyone loves to argue that we have to make deep cuts to our most important investments such as education and health care in order to “balance the budget” and fix the economy. Or better yet its not economically possible to have free education and health care and that we should go private. These people need to look at issues globally. The countries rated “the best” to live in all have free education and health care. They manage to achieve these goals and also have the best overall rating for life satisfaction.

      If we want to discuss greed. One could argue that the greed lies in those that don’t want their tax dollars going to things like education and healthcare because it doesn’t directly benefit them at the moment or they can afford it themselves. That to me is the definition of greed.

      If a selfish, greedy society is where you want to live perhaps move to the States. They seem to have it all figured out.

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    5. Shelley

      I find myself wishing you had a lovely child who has special needs. WOW!!! You are part of a big problem with society. I can tell you that my child who has special needs has taught many kids more than they would have ever learned during their years at school if he were not included in their classroom. Give your head a shake!

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  12. John Law

    WOW! Finally a reality check! But it isn’t politically correct and it’s never going to happen unfortunately. We have a generation of “entitled people” that believe whatever their calling and station in life it should be financed by the taxpayers. It’s time to get the signing bonuses and massages and other benefits off the table and get to the “meat and potatoes.” It’s not about the kids .. it’s about the money!

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    1. G. Barry Stewart

      As you may have heard Iker say, the massage therapy request is off the table, as of last weekend — and the signing bonus is negotiable.

      Furthermore, the BCTF has never used the motto: “Its all about the kids.” That’s just something that teacher-bashers trot out. Even in families, kids know their place. It cannot be “all about the kids”… there are other needs that need to be covered.

      Teachers’ bargaining — and I’m sure, nurses’ bargaining — is two-pronged: something for the worker, while looking out for the client.

      BTW, Laila: great letter by Ms. Enair. VERY well explained. I’ll be passing it on.

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  13. The Monkey

    Taxes are a “loss”? Taxes are “stealing”? Advocating for librarians and counselors for struggling, suffering children is “annoying”? I’m truly at a loss for words. I had no idea our province had so many cruel, hurtful people in it. That makes me very sad. Our proud for everyone who stands up for those who can’t stand up for themselves in this world. We need more of you.

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  14. John Realist

    Patricia: Laws change all of the time. The Supreme Court of Canada is a regulatory body that can and has made mistakes in the past. Regardless of your personal crusade against the government of BC and your ridiculously politically correct sense of entitlement the reality of available resources doesn’t change. Please don’t feed us the magical 1% and corporate taxes lies; as it stands those with money are paying the lion’s share of the taxes and your answer is to go right back to that well when you want more. The problem is you always do.

    Special needs children are a poor use of resources. This is the truth. Can you deny it from a practical, realistic viewpoint without making specious moral claims?

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    1. Laila

      John, it’s taken me a bit to respond to your comment- to be honest, it’s honest, and shocking and yet doesn’t do justice to the entire spectrum of children with challenges and needs in the public school system, or what is known about the value of integration. Very limited perspective, imo.

      Special needs children are not ‘ a poor use of resources”

      Not now, not back ‘ in the day’ and not ever. Why? Because you cant speak to which child is going to be the next Stephen Hawking and which is going to be a delinquent… and every child deserves the same chance to reach their full potential.

      Whether they are typical or not.

      Many ‘typical’children end up in jail or not successful by societies standards..so should we be kicking out the low grade kids in class? The ones who don’t do well? The ones who cause trouble but maybe… gasp..gifted and bored?

      Or do you draw the line at the child in a wheelchair who in your opinion,cant think or take care of themselves so is not worthy of an education because they cant toilet themselves or feed themselves?

      I don’t draw that line. I believe in the full potential of every child, regardless of ability or challenges. I look at Stephen Hawking,who is a role model for my son with invisible challenges.A man who is now confined to wheelchair and has a most beautiful mind that changes how we think or view the world right now, as we speak.

      Imagine if he was afflicted with ALS as a child, and someone said he was a waste of special needs resources. Wow. Can you imagine what a loss that would be?

      Some children will not thrive in a classroom ever, for whatever reason, special needs or not. This is fact.

      Often children who are special needs make great leap and bounds in classrooms that they might never make at home, or segregated from ‘typical’ behavior of others. They model after others and see what is acceptable in society or not, socially. It is we, the adults that put limitations on children, not the child themselves.

      Children are not an industry.

      They are our future. To dictate who may, and who may not receive an education in a public system is a step back to a time I find reprehensible. Because the advances of science and technology have shown us that the brain is an amazing thing and that the body doesn’t always show what the brain is capable of. The body is very much a vessel and tool of the brain…

      You speak like all children with special needs are vegetables incapable of thought or action.Special needs come in all forms and across the spectrum – to lump all as you have is a pox upon all that in unique and individual and a gift to our society, not a burden.

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      1. Tears, Laila! Thank you!

        I appreciate John’s candid remarks, as they are likely what a number (or many?) people think when they see a screaming or drooling child in a class of ‘normal’ kids.

        I just retired, after teaching 38 years — the last ten of which saw a marked rise in the number of profoundly challenged students. Out of respect for privacy, I won’t describe the student directly, other than saying he was a handful through no fault of his own… yet when each week was done, one of his special-ed assistants was beaming with the successes he had shown through the week.

        She was literally dancing out the door… so good to see… that this boy had made a new breakthrough. One I recall was a picture he had drawn, to go with the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. He couldn’t write out the words — but he had chosen the correct starting letter/sound for each of the words in his sentence.

        YES to inclusion — but with plenty of support in place. No “dump-and-run,” which is not fair to anyone.

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    2. John your right the Supreme Court of Canada is an administrative body. The document they administer is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I suggest you read it. Here let me help

      15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

      You want to change this, I suggest you start rounding up all those Premiers and get them to agree to your suggestions. Until them this is the law of the land.

      As for corporations paying the lions share of taxes LOL No. Personal taxes, MSP, property taxes, property transfer tax, ICBC rates and sales tax account for over 75% of the BC provincial budget. Don’t cry me a river for corporations who want nothing more than to keep their money.

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      1. John Realist

        Let me help you with a reality check. The Charter does exist as a statement of idealism but there are exceptions. As an example look how ‘First Nations’ people are treated relative to other Canadians.

        Then there’s reality itself. By your argument everyone is equal (the same) and should be treated that way. That would mean that every individual student should get assigned a teacher to deal with their needs. What’s that? It’s not realistic? Damn straight.

        There is nothing immoral about separating children with special needs and challenges from those who don’t suffer these afflictions. Nowhere in the Charter does it specifically state they must be integrated and in the past they were not.

        You can play ‘nasty little lawyer’ games all you like. That doesn’t change reality and the reality is one of limited resources. Your responses are nothing but evasive never actually tackling the issues at hand.

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        1. corruptgov

          Mr. Realist. You are neither a realist, nor are you able to understand the letter and intent of the law. Nor do you have a comprehension of how “special needs” are just that, and requiring of special services. The student who is capable of achieving within the education system – without the additional supports of an SEA or curricular modifications and/or adaptations – receives the attention that she needs to be successful. Likewise, the student who has “special needs” receives the attention – through the implementation of services above – that she needs to be successful as well. Is this not just and fair?
          “Equal treatment” does not mean “same treatment.”

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  15. e.a.f.

    Now if they would just publish Ms. Enair’s letter on the front page of the Vancouver Sun and Province, the people of this province might understand what is really at stake here. No wonder Christy was out in front of the cameras today. She is desperate.

    Christy wants things to be fair to taxpayers????? well she could start by increasing corporate taxes to 12% and then stop all these tax breaks to mining companies. The lieberals impoverished the government by cutting taxes and then stands there bold faced and says, we don’t have money.

    Leaving special needs children out of public education? What would you like to do with them? Put them in some dark hole and forget about them? All children have the right to go to school. What the special needs children require are teaching aides. Class rooms are different today from even the 1980s when my friends’ kids went to school and going back to the 50s, 60s, and 70s, well that was another world.

    Today’s classes have children from all over the world and some of them have had very unfortunate experiences. There are children with learning disabilities, which once might not have mattered in society, but with today’s technologies, people need to be able to learn and be flexible. There are children in class rooms whose first language is not English and in some areas, that is the majority. Kids are in a different world today and its much more emotionally demanding. Even if we took the suggestion to remove “special needs” children it wouldn’t make any difference. We would still need more teachers, more aides, more equipment, etc. Having special needs children in schools, equips all of us for the reality of life.

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  16. John Realist

    I’ve spent considerable time with a teacher who, over the course of several years, was assigned several ‘special needs’ children. The claim Laila puts forth is that it’s never a waste because ‘one could be a Stephen Hawking’. The problem here is an inability to understand odds. I know to you they’re human beings and odds and limited resources are concepts you don’t want to tackle. I suggest that it’s both dishonest and ridiculous not to.

    Yes, a ‘normal’ child could grow up to be a criminal or non-contributor. However the ODDS of a normal child contributing to society are much higher than the odds of a child who can’t feed or toilet themselves doing the same. If the normal child was given an extra hour or two of attention a day by the special needs teacher who would otherwise be entirely focused on one child with less potential then the normal child’s odds improve.

    I’ll make it simpler for those of you who have trouble with the concept: You have two hockey players roughly the same except one has a club foot. You have $10,000 dollars to spend (and no more) on their development. Where do you put your money? In the private or competitive sectors this is obvious because the people there understand they HAVE LIMITED RESOURCES. Sorry club foot, you may be a good guy but you’ll never be a great player.

    Teachers need to understand they have limited resources too. When you throw up the smoke screen of ‘the government or corporations should pay’ you’re poorly disguising the truth. The government is not an abstract entity; everything they do is funded by THE TAX PAYER. That’s you, me, everyone else. The tax payer is not an abstract, every dollar you take away from us for your needs has to be justified and we don’t all believe the same things you do. This is why you must use your LIMITED RESOURCES wisely instead of whining for more.

    In the above example you have one special needs teacher and one normal teacher in a class room. It’s not sane to dedicate a teacher’s entire energies to the special needs child but that is what happens. What if you had TWO teachers in the same classroom helping each other. On top of that, what if the ‘special needs’ children you’re force integrating weren’t there. The answer is you’d be maximizing your potential and resources.

    It is the ethical and rational duty of every sane teacher, parent and tax payer to say: Please spend our resources wisely. We need to change the system for the good of the many and maximize potential by playing GOOD ODDS.

    If is not fair or just to ask the tax payer for more when you’re not able to use wisely what you have now.

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    1. Sadly, under the guise of logic and realism, John makes no good points. How illogical is that?! In fact, John is wasting my time. His special needs are simply NOT worth contemplating. Dark hole for you, John? Seriously: The odds of another Stephen Hawking is not the argument, not for LY nor John. The argument is for fair and reasonable allocation of resources for OUR children. And they are all ours. Integrating droolers may not, in fact, be right. Teachers are saying that a part of it is but the effort is too great on them. I think the right decision is case-by-case. Some will do well, others will not. Surely we have enough sense to know the difference? As for John, would you rather see your tax dollars go to the Convention Center – for visitors? Mass transit that is not utilized by the majority of people? The Olympics ’cause it’s fun! Or would you prefer to send a few more million to the lawyers for Basi Virk? Give your head a shake, John. Listen to the rattles,

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      1. John Realist

        This is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the teachers and their supporter’s ‘thinking’. The first thing to note is that like every other reply I’ve received the bulk of the missive is a personal attack as opposed to dealing with the issues and rational arguments put forth.

        I constantly see ‘arguments’ and responses stemming from emotion rather than logic and thought. It’s distressing and off putting that their arguments are guided by emotions and politically correct assumptions about ‘rights’ rather than hard facts. If you stop for a moment and place your PC morality in a broader context of the world and history you will come to understand that not everyone sees things the way you do. You believe you’re progressive shepherds more morally advanced than generations that came before you. This is the same blind, faith based attitude religion takes. This inflexibility and inability to deal with real world problems doesn’t bode well for the education of the current generation.

        What do you tell the child who questions ‘survival of the fittest’/evolution? What do you say he when he points out it ‘isn’t fair’? How do you respond to a basic math problem such as: ‘There are 20 candies for 30 people.’ Do you accept that not everyone gets a candy, or do you do change/ignore the question itself so it’s ‘fair’ and fits into your narrow view of the world?

        I see no effort at problem solving here. I see teachers, grown adults behaving like entitled children who won’t accept the concept of limited resources. I see them whining for more instead of negotiating reasonably or making hard, cruel changes to deal with reality.

        The world is competitive. Just because you don’t like reality doesn’t entitle you to reject it or to teach children to do the same. You can’t have all the candy you want because you see the other child elsewhere has it. You’re not problem solving. You’re being emotional crusaders for the new religion of politically correct insanity. Don’t expect respect for that and don’t expect solutions from daddy government.

        Try being rational, logical adults. Stop shielding both yourselves and children from reality. In the end you’re doing nobody any favours.

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        1. I don’t think I am being PC, John, by acknowledging that there is more to life than dollars and your form of reductionism. And in the case of 20 candies for 30 children, I can do the exalted math – they each get 2/3. Duh! Or, like you might, I could suggest we sell the 20 candies and use the proceeds from that effort to buy 30. I admit that there is more than one way to skin the cat but so are there ways to NOT have to skin the cat. You are calling me PC and I am saying you are simple. Maybe that is enough for now but don’t think that logic and reason are all there is to this world. There is more. If there wasn’t, why would we keep trying to learn?

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          1. John Realist

            It would be easy to apply scientific method to this issue and see what use of resources results in the most learning. Anyone with common sense knows already and calling incisive sanity ‘reductionist’ is simplistic and totally, purposely missing the point.

            You can say ‘there is more’ but if you do you’d better state exactly what that ‘more’ is and why your valuation of it has a greater validity than reality and logic.

            P.S. It is about dollars. Your and mine. You want to tell me how mine should be spent and I’m telling you I don’t agree.

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    2. Laila

      I don’t have any issue understanding numbers John, in fact if you read my blog and look through the best of page, I have demonstrated very well again and again, where the government foolishly wastes taxpayers funds and money. Time and time again under the guise of doing business where lavish purchase card spending is the norm, where P3 deals are made that give investors such a massive return on their money they can sell their stake in the sea to sky highway to make another investment fund wealthy.

      Do you object to this kind of use of taxpayers dollars? I sure as hell do. The corporate gifts of tax exemptions, or the infrastructure tax credits… the list goes on. When you look at the numbers,it’s clear in many sectors the revenue generated as a result of these corporate gifts isn’t what it should be.

      So yes, I get the government has limited resources, but I do not agree on cutting education period. The cuts that have been made over the last 11 years are horrific and the government downloads more and more to the districts and while in some districts its easily managed because of declining enrollment, in others like Surrey instruction days were cut to make the budget.

      There are so few special needs teachers out there its a rarity in most schools, period. The spread their time between several schools as do counselors. We don’t have full time janitorial staff in most elementary schools, we have libraries sitting empty more days than not because the librarian is only funded for two days.

      You are looking to the far end of the spectrum and using it to bolster your argument and apply it to all. Kids with many different kinds of needs are luck to get a special education assistant who is not a teacher and does not have a degree to teach, but is an aid who assists that child for however many hours they get.Too many kids get no help whatsoever.

      Kids need supports. Even gifted kids designations were cut, so they don’t get extra assistance or streaming which can lead to big issues in a classroom when a kid is bored. Its not just black and white and a matter of saying integration is a waste of money.

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      1. John Realist

        I have no objections to education being properly funded. I do object to how current resources are allocated in the school system.

        I do object to a more and more invasive government that constantly increases fees and taxes under the guise of ‘helping’.

        I do object to a politically correct moral stance that results in unrealistic and ridiculous world views that won’t stand up to reality, competition and a changing world.

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        1. Sarah

          How can you say you have no objections to a properly funded education system but object to how current resources are allocated within the school system? Do you not see what cuts each school district has to make on a yearly basis to understand that more funding is needed to deal with an evolving educational system. I would like you to go to a school board meeting when the budget is being discussed and tell them where the money should go and you’ll have to make a decision between cutting the arts, sports, reducing learning support or having school closure days in order to not have to pay the hydro bill for those days? Every year, something is cut and school boards have to make the tough decision that angers someone. I know that money doesn’t grow on trees (if it did, teachers wouldn’t have to pay into a kitchen fund that buys soap to wash their dishes) but the provincial government has to prioritize their budget better and put more money into the Ministry of Education’s budget.

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        2. Actually, John, I agree with all that you say above. And- for the record – I am a huge critic of the educational system in just about every way. But the system is not being debated here. It is about who gets to play. And, in that sense, I am an egalitarian but with a meritocracy and no political correctness thrown in. People deserve a chance. Maybe two. In some cases, perhaps, more. But I, too, have limits but they are not drawn by numbers or policies or protocols. Or political biases. They are simply common sense driven.

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    3. You are brutal, every child, man and woman in this country are equal in every sense of the word. Special needs children used to be separated and were very discriminated against because of it. When you add children with special needs to a class room, it is a blessing to all the children on many fronts. The SN child gets to socialize with their peers, have experiences they may not normally have and they grow and prosper in society. The “normal” child learns compassion, empathy and understanding. Not everyone is the same, how boring would that be.

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  17. Richard Wede

    Laila, what’s with using an NDP insider posing as a “concerned parent?” That’s as bogus as it gets, and certainly discredits the whole article. Patricia Enair works/worked for Jag Brar, former NDP MLA. Too bad for the left that Google exists to fact-check what you’re trying to pass off. Shameful!

    1. Patricia Enair
    Title
    Freelance Organizer
    Demographic info
    Vancouver, Canada Area | Political Organization
    Current
    Organizational Specialist at Jagrup Brar MLA
    Past
    Regional Organizer at FightHST

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    1. LOL I suggest you look a little more closely at my background DPAC Co Chair and PAC Chair were in there long before that. Education is the reason I became politically active. However since breast cancer I have not been nearly as politically active. Education is the one thing that brings me back however. Bringing up someone’s history is great, so long as it is a complete history.

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    2. Laila

      It’s rather amusing that, as you point out, google shows who Patricia Enair is – of course it does – and that you think her past work in the party somehow negates her experience as a parent, or her facts, which are indeed, facts and truth Richard.

      She has also been involved in parents advisory council at a district level and is fully aware of the situation as am I – She is first and foremost a parent who has dealt with the school system for many years, and has seen it’s successes and its failings.

      No one is ‘using’ anyone for anything Richard. I’m not an NDP member, and as regular readers know I am just as hard on the NDP as I am everyone else. In fact I’m pretty sure some in the NDP have my face on some dartboards too..lol..

      Nice try though. 🙂

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    3. Snort.
      Because activists don’t have kids and can’t have a valid opinion, right? I guess that would also exclude all the partisan liberals organized via “Digital Influencer” campaign from having an opinion.

      Thanks for playing.

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    4. Richard Wede

      Yet, your complete failure to fully disclose Enair’s close ties to the NDP is shoddy journalism, at best. Cat’s outta the bag now. Maybe next time find a shill without an NDP card. There must be ONE non-affiliated parent out there who shares the views of the NDP hacks, no?

      As an aside, but certainly related, it’s very ironic that Enair’s efforts to defeat the HST, a tax that would have helped fund the BCTF’s outrageous demands, has come back to haunt her. Yes, give the BCTF everything they ask for, but I don’t want to pay for it. How typical of the left!

      As Maggie Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

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      1. Laila

        Patricia used to work for an NDP MLA but as she said, since having breast cancer and undergoing treatments she really isn’t that involved anymore. There is no deception and the cat was never in the bag Richard.

        I am sure there are, however I get more questions from parents than anything else as to the history of this dispute because they don’t know.

        I am non-partisan and this letter accurately reflects the truth behind this dispute and why the government will not resolve this, which is why I printed it. Patricia Enair is not the voice of the NDP nor does she speak for them. Like myself she has spent a very long time in the school system and knows this inside and out.

        Iker said himself yesterday on air that dealing with an NDP government would still have been difficult negotiations, just a different tone.

        So, nice try again, trying to negate the facts in this letter by making it an NDP issue when in fact, its vital reading for every parent in this province. And that’s my opinion.

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        1. Richard Wede

          Sorry to hear of Enair’s health problems, but playing the pity card to mask an NDP plant just won’t fly with the more astute readers of your blog.

          Maybe Enair would be more happy in Cuba, where her employer Brar has said life is superb?

          The leftists always seem to blow their cover when they try covert social media campaigns. They just aren’t that smart, and that’s why they’ve lost 4 elections in a row, with 2017 being handed to CC on a silver platter. You guys need to step back and understand that what you’re doing is the complete opposite of what resonates with the electorate.

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          1. Richard I am not an NDP plant, as a matter of fact I am no longer a member of the party. I am a parent who has been active in watching the destruction of education. Please point out to me where I was wrong in this letter? What facts are misrepresented. Funny how the Liberals can’t fight on facts only rhetoric.

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            1. Richard Wede

              Destruction of education? BC’s student outcomes are the 6th BEST in the world. Throwing billions more at something that is working so well is a fool’s game. And the NDP are fools for playing that game.

              And, your strong ties to the furthest of the left in the NDP, an MLA who praised the Cuban model of government, paints a vivid picture of an off the wall social activist who has no concept whatsoever of the cost of her dreams. Reality check time.

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  18. Reginald Volkswagon

    What I think is funnier is that this person was a member of the “Fight HST” program, and now is crying about funding education, and yet fought against a tax that was generating billions of dollars that could have gone to fund education. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t fight against a tax, and then cry when there is no money to pay for all of your hopes and dreams. This person’s resume reads like every typical leftist hypocrite – always wanting their cake and to eat it too.

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    1. Boy is my family killing themselves laughing at this. At the time of the Fight HST campaign I didn’t have any affiliation to any political party. I did the FightHST campaign because of how it was introduced. I believe that when you want to make that big a tax shift you need to put it to the tax payers and the government failed to do that, so I did. Would it shock you to find out that I come from a solid Socred family and my husband’ godfather was once the President of the Socred Party? I believe in the law. I believe the law is the foundation of democracy and that education is a close second. If you break the law you should suffer the consequences. So Reginald do you believe the government is above the law? If you do I suggest you read Mein Kampf.

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      1. Reginald Volkswagon

        You just Godwinned yourself with that silly Mein Kampf comment, so congrats, you lost. Anyone who fought against the HST and is now crying about under-funding is just a hypocrite. Plain and simple. You can’t have it both ways. Shame on you for fighting against something that would have ended the “destruction of education” as you so melodramatically phrased it. There is only so much money, and when you oppose a viable method of taxation that funds thing, you only have yourself to blame.

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        1. Get over the HST loss, Reg. It was the best political action I have ever seen in BC. People of all political stripes united behind the leadership of the “grandfather of the BC Liberals” — Bill van der Zalm — and hammered Gordon Campbell and his friends for the slimy lie they tried to pull off.

          HST might be a good idea, but don’t lie about it. Present it in an honest and logical manner. Hey: maybe the NDP can run on an HST platform next time. Can they count on your support?

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    2. Richard Wede

      Well said, Reginald. The leftists just can’t see themselves paying for all the bells and whistles they want. “Someone Else” will have to pay, they proclaim loudly. Well, Someone Else is fed up with paying for the left’s frivolities, and that’s why the NDP loses every single time.

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  19. As one of many property owners who have to pay a school tax supposedly destined to educate 558,985 students, its ironic that Premier Christy Clark would imply that the financial burden is restricted to parents and exclude non-parents “…. to get the education that their parents have paid for”. The squeaky wheels vs the well oiled?
    In the Vancouver Sun this morning:
    “That is where this impasse must be resolved, and it must be resolved between negotiators,” Clark said. “It needs to be resolved by two sides who find a reasonable, thoughtful solution, because ultimately, what we all want is to make sure our kids get back to the classroom to get the education that their parents have paid for, that they’re going to need to be able to compete in the world, and most of all, an education that they need to have.

    “There’s no magic wand. There’s no one who is going to step in and say they’ve come up with a simple, easy way that’s going to magically solve this.” Premier Christy Clark
    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Christy+Clark+calls+teachers+strike+BCTF+stands+firm+updated+with+video/10170711/story.html

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    1. John Realist

      A good point. It would be nice if those using the service paid the lion’s share of it. It costs a fortune to assign a teacher full time to a special needs student. Why shouldn’t the parents pay (at least) a significant percentage of that cost?

      Parents in general should step up and pay more than those of us who don’t have children. Taking my money to give others a service/benefit that won’t give me the same benefits is morally bankrupt.

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      1. Don F.

        John Realist…” Parents in general should step up and pay more than those of us who don’t have children “…. so with that attitude you feel qualified to have an opinion here in this discussion. Did you get an education John Realist? If so who payed for it? Maybe you just don’t comprehend, which doesn’t surprise me, the concept of paying it back!

        And you think anyone here should give a shit about anything further you might have to say??

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        1. And by the way, JR, teachers are not assigned one-on-one with any special needs students. If such assignment occurs, it would be a special ed assistant — hired for about 6 hours per day at perhaps a third to half the cost of a certified teacher. They perform a valuable service to the students and to the school.

          Special ed teachers are in charge of scheduling their army of SEAs, so are essentially managers… but are paid on the same scale as classroom teachers. They can have 40+ students under their umbrella and have to meet about, then write individual education plans (IEPs) for all of these students.

          Before the contract was stripped, a Special Ed teacher’s maximum case load was 12.

          It’s become a hugely demanding job, one that few want to take on.

          Hey, Richard Wede: I am an NDP supporter. Just thought I’d save you the time of looking it up. The main thing I support, though, is public education.

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  20. I guess its just easier to re-frame this crisis in education as ‘NDP is the worse than Satan’ and ‘BC Liberals are the messiah’ than having to defend the excessive legal spending and unconstitutionality of the laws that Christy Clark is personally responsible for.

    Facts are hard sometimes.

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    1. Richard Wede

      Well Peter, I haven’t seen me nor Reginald (may I call you Reg for short?) proclaim any love for Christy Clark nor the Liberals. You, on the other hand, have Adrian Dix man-love posters littering your Facebook account, so it’s clear where your allegiances lie.

      The Liberals suck, but the NDP suck hugely, and far worse. Voters in this province have to hold their noses and vote, which is a sad state of affairs. With no viable alternative, Christy Clark will continue to sweep the NDP into the political dustbin. 2017 is a slam-dunk for her, again, because your party is a bunch of union thugs and clueless social activists who don’t appeal to the voters.

      This fabricated “crisis in education due to underfunding” is just that, a big, fat, leftist fabrication. The 6th best student outcomes in the world are in BC. Giving teachers $3,000 a year for oily sexual experiences will NOT improve on those outcomes. Yet, here you and your NDP-crazed crew are bowing down for teacher massages at our expense. Get real!

      Ridiculous expectations, thy name is NDP/BCTF.

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  21. Jean

    Dr. David Chalk was another child who could have been thrown under the bus but was not. I personally met this amazing man a couple of years ago at a meeting about EMF’s and the really really dumb meters and he gave an amazing speech, perfectly laid out and spoken in perfect English. At the age of 9 this man was diagnosed SEVERELY dyslectic and told he would never be able to learn. He learned to speak by training his brain to think in pictures instead of words and he has become a genius. Search him out at Dr. David Black, you will be amazed how brilliant he is.

    As for the Cluck and her gang I shudder to think what their IQ’s are and the fact this mob is running our province is truly scary.

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  22. “Not enough money to go around”, says the govt. I think if the politicians limit themselves to $20 / day on food and $60/day on lodging and 1 ticket in coach as their travel expenses, then we would have enough for Education, Medical service, building roads and bridges…etc. I don’t understand why there isn’t an independent body to regular their expense accounts.

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  23. Jennifer Gordon

    John Realist claims that resources are better spent on typically developed students rather than those with special needs and appears to argue for segregating these students out into separate schools. I will avoid the humanistic arguement others have made so eloquently and speak to your wallet. I am qualified to do so after a decade working in disability services and handling major contracts for disability services.

    Students with special needs who are “mainstreamed” in school graduate with expectations similar to their peers. They want jobs and independence. They are much more successful in obtaining these than students who are kept in special ed specific classes. They don’t typically end up in group homes or day programs as adults. They are much more likely to obtain and keep real paying jobs. They are less likely to end up on PWD assistance. They “cost” taxpayers far less over their lifespan than kids who are warehoused/babysat in special ed classes. They become taxpayers. Inclusion benefits everyone.

    Having worked in the school system for a short time, I can also assure you that parents of kids with special needs don’t have extra money to “step up” with. They are strapped after paying for many services privately after years of government cuts. And most teachers will tell you the kids taking the most time in class are those with poor home situations. Kids being beaten, neglected, forced to act as adults, etc.

    My taxes pay for hospitals, should I pay less because I don’t have cancer and don’t need treatment? I can afford to buy books from Amazon, should I get to not pay for libraries? How about I keep the portion of my taxes spent on the Olympics, since I didn’t watch them? The portion spent on jails since I’ve never been in one?

    I think both sides of this dispute have acted stupidly. Asking for a signing bonus, let alone $5000 makes it about money. Remember, the union bargaining team made this demand, not the teachers. Most teachers I know aren’t happy with that request. As for the government, they cant simply wait out the BCTF strike fund and bankrupt them. They need to follow the Supreme Court ruling. Not doing so is bizarre. The NDP needs to run a candidate that people can stomach voting for. Many people referred to this election as the evil of two lessers.

    As taxpayers we can demand transparency in these negotiations. We can let both the BCTF and the local MLA know what we find objectionable in their demands. As parents we can engage with the teachers and CEAs and contribute to the learning process for all children in the classroom.

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  24. Edward

    you pay for what you get – if we continue to except cheap teachers we will get cheap education – the rich are being taxed less and less over the years – if we continue to take less and this starts with educating our children society will be a fuction of prducing cheap labour making the rich richer and the poor poorer. So get those who have money to pay for it they are getting off cheap while the shrinking middle class fronts the bill.

    keep up the battler teachers – the money is there don’t listen to the lies

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  25. REW

    1. You say “As a parent of children who have been in the school system since the late 90’s I have a unique perspective on the current negotiations. Sorry to burst your bubble but we all have a unique perspective.
    2. In your own words you say
    Everyone asks why now for the strike?
    It all comes down to the appeal set to be heard in the Court of Appeal on October 13 and 14th.

    The right to appeal is there, if you want the right to appeal to be taken away have the laws change. The government is no different than any other person or organization, if they have the option to appeal and they want to its their right to do so. To go a bit further if something is in front of the courts legal council will always advise you not to discuss until a final rulling has been made.

    3. My “unique perspective” is the fact there have been what 50 or so strikes since the 80’s? B.A.M correct me if I am wrong. No matter how you sugar coat it, mix it up or put a mask on it there is more way more to this than class composition, otherwise it would be their only demands. My final point on “unique perspective” is I wish the BCTF and the Teachers would stop pretending they represent parents and students. They don’t. This is a labour dispute not an education dispute. Unless your paying dues to the BCTF they do not represent you.

    4.I would like to mention the best thing for BC would be to go private! There is a reason why the rich send their kids to private school. The education is simply better all round.

    5. Before everyone gets all upset and think i am pro government well that is not the case. I believe both sides are equally responsible for the fact my son isnt in school. I think both sides fail to admit mistakes and its becoming more of lets break the other side down instead of opening the doors. In conclusion Christy Clark is not sitting at the kitchen table saying “lets see how we can screw the people who voted for me” . She is the premier and she is doing the best she can with what she has. The problem is with being in politics your damned if you do and your damned if you dont. No matter what your going to make someone upset.

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  26. Kat B.

    As a tax-paying member of the public, I cannot support either the BCTF or the Government’s side. My background is that my mother, an uncle and an aunt were teachers in BC, my brother and myself went through the education system in BC (with the exception of 3 years in Ontario) and both he and I went on to graduate school. My daughter and son went through the BC educational system and both went to college and university. My son is gifted, was identified as such in Grade 2, and the system did not do well by him. Now I have 3 grandsons, 1 in primary, 1 entering kindergarten (this year) and one to enter in 2 more years. I have friends who have been or are presently teachers and a lot of respect and appreciation for what they do. However, although I do think the teachers should be able to bargain for working conditions as well as salary. I strongly do not support the BCTF, which for many years has been militant and far from forthright with its membership. The strike vote being held today is a public relations ploy that will be held up for the purpose of public support. If it was a genuine effort to gauge the wishes of its members, it could have also asked the teachers if they would suspend the strike action for a month to allow negotiations to continue, alternatively, until after the Court case was heard. Considering the government (and negotiator) has already said that they will not accept binding arbitration with the condition of first dropping E80 seems only to be a device meant to produce an anti-government reaction rather than a check of what their membership wants. On the other hand, I would greatly like to see transparency from the government as to the use to which they put my Education dollars I am obliged to pay with my property taxes. For example, what is the total collected by the Province and how has it been distributed. Does it pay the legal fees for the ongoing court cases? Does it pay for the Minister of Education? How much goes to the School Boards, based on what formulas, and how much stays within the government administration? Do I trust that it is being spent wisely on behalf of the students of this Province? Absolutely not. Perhaps wisely, we have not heard much of what the School Boards have to say regarding the present dispute, since it seems they would be in a lose-lose situation. However, given that I have no choice in paying into the Education fund (which I do not disagree with), I at least have the choice of who I elect to the School Board in my area, as well as electing who I wish to represent me in the government, and theoretically therefore some say in how that money is spent. I have NO say in how the BCTF will decide what is best for students with regards to class size and composition, which will come out of my tax dollars. I foresee that if they are given this right, that we will be facing an even costlier (both educationally and financially) battle in the coming years. While I recognize that I am probably entering politically incorrect territory, I am also not convinced that integration of special needs children into the general school population is beneficial to either those children or the students who don’t have those needs and find the attention to those needs a distraction to their own learning. I certainly agree that every child is entitled to an education within our province, but in a way that allows all students (from special needs, ESL to gifted) across the spectrum to realize their potential. I think the present integration model deters from this goal. Having said that, if I could afford it, I would have enrolled my children in a private school, and would help my children enroll their children in private schools as well. This is not because I consider them to be gifted (don’t know yet, probably not), but because in the private school scenario they would be able to maximize their abilities. I consider this a poor commentary on our public school system, and absolutely NOT the fault of our teachers, but rather what has been thrust upon them from all sides. That being said, is there not some way that the concerned public can make their voices heard and count for something in this dispute without being forced to take up one side or the other is this far too polarized dispute?

    Like

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