Opinion Column


BC Liberal legislation to blame for education disruptions

By Laila Yuile, City Hall

B.C. Premier Christy Clark addressing the BC Liberal caucus in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday May 23, 2013. CARMINE MARINELLI / 24 HOURS)

B.C. Premier Christy Clark addressing the BC Liberal caucus in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday May 23, 2013. CARMINE MARINELLI / 24 HOURS)


Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of the last duel on the Site C Dam was Laila with 74%.

This week’s topic:

As the B.C. teachers dispute escalates, which side is responsible for the disruption in student learning?

While the BC Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government took a break from contract talks over the weekend to further examine their positions, come Monday students, teachers and parents will begin to feel the impact of action taken on both sides.

Today is the first of several rotating strikes the BCTF is staging in school districts across the province this week. In response, the provincial government begins a partial lockout today as well, one that has been labeled by many as a botched attempt to punish teachers, but instead impacts students by limiting time teachers can be at school.

Concerns over cancelled field trips and extra-curricular activities, and unmarked exams, are creating tension and stress among students and teachers alike. The government was quick to say they would “tweak” the lockout terms to ensure those things wouldn’t happen, but some school events have been cancelled already. I say the government was once again trying to sway public opinion in its favour.

Read Brent Stafford's column "Parents should blame teachers for rotating strike action"

If you listen to the government’s side, it’s those wretched teachers who are responsible for disrupting children’s education with demands over wages and classroom composition. But when you look at the bigger picture, it’s clear that government itself has been responsible for a continual disruption in student learning since 2002 when it illegally stripped teachers of the right to bargain working conditions that directly impact student learning.

Bills 27 and 28 made drastic changes to classrooms across the provinces that have never been corrected. The bills not only took away the teachers’ ability to bargain classroom size and composition, but also took away the student-to-teacher ratio for specialty teachers like special needs teachers and counsellors. This can greatly impact a teacher’s ability to be effective, but can also disrupt learning for every student. Placing multiple children with behavioural or educational challenges in a classroom — who may or may not have support – can spread a teacher thin.

Those bills were followed by Bill 22. In a statement by the Supreme Court earlier this year that ruled in favour of the teachers’ union, the justice stated that government had bargained in bad faith and tried to provoke the teachers to strike to gain the public’s favour.

The government has appealed the decision to return class size and composition to prior levels, but the fact remains that student learning has been disrupted for years not because of teachers, but due to government cuts and vindictive legislation.

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.






Who wins this week's duel about who to blame for the disruption in student learning?

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