Along the Fraser: Liberals don’t like public education

Teachers bargaining for a system that produces future scientists, doctors, lawyers

Along the Fraser: Liberals don’t like public education

No lie can live forever – Thomas Carlyle, Victorian writer.

In his March on Washington in 1968, Martin Luther King woke up mainstream America when he declared the emancipation of Negroes by Abraham Lincoln was “a bad check marked insufficient funds.”

After 100 years, Negroes were still crippled by poverty, injustice and discrimination.

But, “Carlyle was right,” said King, “no lie can live forever.”

The words resonate in B.C. as the Liberals portray teachers as greedy and demean their union as “the common denominator” in decades of turmoil. Lies. Class size and composition language – illegally removed from contract – can’t be abandoned.

In the ’80s, because teachers fought for it, they leveled the playing ground for all students.

The six o’clock news never mentions this. You get sound bites about money with no analysis for truth.

An exception occurred May 27, when Ken Georgetti, former president of the Canadian Labour Congress, talked to CBC radio host Steven Quinn. Teacher demands were altruistic and sensible.

“Teachers are bargaining for the quality of the product that produces future scientists, graduates, the doctors, the lawyers in our society,” said Georgetti, who then reminded us of a truth we have generally chosen to ignore. “You don’t see other unions bargaining for that sort of thing.”

The Liberals don’t value public education. Since 2002, they’ve cut 1,400 special education teachers, 3,500 teaching positions, and closed 200 schools.

Add to this carnage, music programs, and English as Second Language.

In 2013, Susan Lambert told me it would take $3.3 billion to return funding to 2002 levels, according to school district secretary treasurers.

That’s generations of adults denied equal educational opportunity.

Last week, a picketer told me she got a parent to understand what that means. “Funding for kids in B.C. schools is $1,000 less per student,” she said. “Would you let someone steal $1,000 from your child.”

“Class size has nothing to do educational outcomes,” says Education Minister Peter Fassbender.

Not true, says researcher, Diane Schanzenbach.

Her 2014 report, Does Class Size Matter, proves that reduced numbers benefit every student.

In a June 25 open letter Christy Clark from, former Richmond school superintendent Don Lintott says it again.

“The provision of specialist teachers who can support students with these educational needs has been eroded beyond belief over the last two terms of the Liberal government … not only are students with special needs being shortchanged, but regular classroom students are also not getting the teacher time they deserve. Without some framework to put limits on the number of special needs students allocated to classrooms, all students in our public schools are disadvantaged.”

Lintott accuses the Liberals government of dishonesty in bargaining and arrogance.

“You say you are trying to find a settlement in this labor dispute, yet you have proposed wording that could never be agreed upon by the teachers of B.C. I am appalled the government would include a clause that seeks to set aside the ruling of two B.C. Court decisions and the likely future decision of the Supreme Court of Canada.”

The province wants to include wording such as, “if either party is dissatisfied with the outcome, either party may give written notice to the other of termination of the collective agreement.”

To Lintott, that signals an unwillingness to abide by the rule of law in this country.

Normally, there’s good-bye ceremonies at the end of the school year, proper closure for the year, retiring teachers thanked by parents, students. Not this year.

“Truth crushed to earth will rise again,” said King, using a line from poet William Cullen Bryant.

The Liberals don’t like teachers or public education, they don’t bargain honestly, ignore facts and the law, and don’t care about kids and families.

No lie can live forever.

Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.