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The battle between B.C. teachers and the provincial government could go another round.
The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that the province violated teachers’ rights in disregarding negotiated class size limits and that the former did not bargain in good faith.
The court also ordered the province to pay the B.C. Teachers’ Federation $2 million.
The B.C. Liberal government is considering an appeal of the decision.
Who knows how long that will take.
The BCTF has said it will be paying attention to the provincial budget next month to see if changes reflect the court’s decision, such as more money for education, to hire more teachers and special assistants and reduce class sizes.
But we don’t expect much to change.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender – who disagreed with the judge’s conclusion – issued a message to parents, that it’s business as usual in public schools.
Premier Christy Clark has said that the government’s priority is a working education system for students, and that the court decision doesn’t reflect that.
The ruling returns contract language that was in place in 2002, when Bill 28 removed issues such as class size and composition from the teachers’ collective agreement. It also stripped their rights to negotiate them in the future.
In April 2011, the legislation was ruled unconstitutional and the government was given a year to address the repercussions of the ruling.
But then the province came up with Bill 22, which was just as unconstitutional as the previous one.
Regardless of the current state of public education, which many feel is doing pretty well – with graduation rates improving all around and class sizes having barely changed in recent years – the provincial government must admit its wrongdoing, stop bickering and politicking, and bargain in good faith, recognize the good work some of society’s most educated members perform each day by investing in them, and therein the future of this province.
It’s time for the provincial government to really put families and children first by investing more in their education.
It’s time Premier Clark put some money where her mouth is.
– The News