Private system taking from public stream

Class size and composition are important to a child's education.

Editor, The News:

Re: Full strike at schools Tuesday (The News, June 13).

Why do parents send their students to private schools? The staff is educated exactly the same. The difference is in delivery. There are smaller class sizes, subject specialists, more one-to-one attention and few special needs kids who take time away from other students.

Wouldn’t this be nice for all our students?

This is what all our educators are fighting for.

Private schools get government funding as well as huge tuition fees. Our government short changes public school students by at least $1,000 each. The schools could do amazing things with proper funding.

Our need for technology and library support is not supported by our government, but instead by PACs and constant fund raising by staff, students and parents.

This is creating a two-class education system. More students entering the private system is taking more government funding away from the public stream.

The bargaining process uses millions of dollars, but has never been effective. Get rid of the employer bargaining group and go back to local bargaining. Put all that wasted money back where it belongs – in the classroom.

The government keeps dumping costs that it should be covering onto school boards. How does it expect  to pay for higher overhead expenses (such as Hydro, building upgrades, salary raises) from unchanging budgets?

The government has created an atmosphere of conflict between the education groups who ultimately want the same things for our students.

The biggest loser is a better education system for our kids. What needs to change is to ensure proper education funding and a new negotiation format.

Nina Fowell

Maple Ridge


Be accountable

Editor, The News:

Re: Full strike at schools Tuesday (The News, June 13).

I have been a technology education (woodwork) teacher in B.C. for the past 14 years and I am deeply saddened by this labour dispute.

I am at the point where I am thinking of new career options.

I feel this government tells the public that they care about education, but I have not seen one single act that demonstrates this in the past 12 years.

When I first started teaching woodwork, we had set class size and composition limits that reflected safety concerns.

When the government stripped our contract, things started to fall apart.

My woodwork classes used to be 24 students, with a limit of three special needs students.  It is interesting to note that BCIT class size limits are much smaller than the standard public school trades classes.

BCIT teaches adults, not 12- to 14-year olds.

A typical class for me now has 30 students, and in some cases seven special needs students. That doesn’t include the many students who have just moved to Canada and don’t speak English, nor the students who are functioning at two to four years below their peers academically, but do not have ministry designations.

In shop, classes there are huge safety concerns and this government will not address them.

They talk about skills training and hands-on curriculum, but nothing ever comes of it. My local specialists association, B.C. Technology Teachers, even developed a best practices standards guide regarding safety, and met with the government but were ignored.

Parents and PACs need to fight for the quality of their children’s education. Teachers want nothing more than to do their jobs well and meet the needs of the students in their classes. This becomes increasingly difficult when there are no protective limits to ensure a safe, supportive classroom. The provincial government must be held accountable.

Class size and composition are essential to education. This government would like people to believe that they are just more things that ‘greedy’ teachers want. Class size and composition are actually the most important elements to the success of students in their education and it seems only teachers are willing to fight for them.

How can this government ignore the safety of children in trades training classes?  Presently, I see children falling through the cracks in my classroom, not to mention machines that are falling apart and a supply budget that is smaller than it was when I first started teaching a decade and a half ago.

Shop classes should be places where students find success and gain confidence, hopefully leading to rewarding careers or areas of passion. Instead, they are chaotic and overcrowded places where students feel ignored and unsupported.

How can I, as a teacher, trust the B.C. Liberals to make the right choices for the students in my classes when all I have witnessed is disregard and underfunding?

Jaime Elson

Maple Ridge


Don’t blame teachers

Editor, The News:

Re: Losers in the end (Guest editorial, June 13).

Yes, kids are the losers by not “getting extra help in attaining the best marks possible in final unit tests and exams.” But it is the government-imposed lockout that prevents teachers from giving students that extra one-to-one assistance.  Please check your facts before blaming teachers for the current chaos in our schools.

Diane Stevenson

Pitt Meadows

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