New report hoped to lead to discussion

  • May. 16, 2011 5:00 p.m.

A new publication regarding the public education system has Bulkley Valley Teacher Union President Karin Bachman hoping for more discussion around public education.

Bachman brought the “Better Schools for B.C.” publication to the school board at a recent meeting, and has also distributed the document, created by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, in various public offices, such as a doctors or dentists office in Smithers and in Houston.

“Teachers believe all members of our community are concerned with ensuring our children’s classrooms and schools are able to give all students the knowledge and skills they need to be our leaders of tomorrow and full participants in the democratic society we aspire to and enjoy,” Bachman said.

The publication addresses seven areas: class size and composition, child poverty, specialist teachers, authentic student assessment, respect for diversity, increased investment, and full-scope collective bargaining rights for teachers.

They were pleased to hear that the BC Supreme Court ruled that Bills 27 and 28 were invalid, Bachman said. Bills 27 and 28, she said, stripped class size and composition limits in their collective agreement in 1990. Now, Bachman said, the students are “re-entitled” to those rights, and she hopes to see the adjustments made as soon as possible.

But more needs to be done, she said, which is why they created Better Schools for BC to highlight more areas of concern.

While the budget for this year has already been announced, there is still hope for changes being implemented this fall, she said.

In the past, the government has brought in funding as required, Bachman said, so if enough people rally for the initiatives this document brings up, the more chances the government will listen.

“Teachers really feel the government must address this now,” Bachman said. “The Bulkley Valley has had to make less cuts than others, but our schools would definitely benefit.”

The delegation was an interesting one for School Board #54 Superintendent Chris van der Mark.

“I think they did a good job of articulating the views of their organization in various areas as the BCTF sees as priorities,” van der Mark said.

The issues they’re looking at may be more provincial than localized, van der Mark said. Class size is always a hot bed issue, however they’re closely monitored by SD54 and haven’t been a problem here.

“There was nothing really [pressing],” van der Mark said.

At this time, they just received the document for information, with no actions planned.

“Our focus is always going to be with working with the teachers to make sure the kids get the best service and instruction moving forward and we’re going to continue to work with our local,” van der Mark said.