Life

Worried about the future of education in BC? It’s time to speak up

By Bianca Bujan

Mike Bernier, Minister of Education.
POSTMEDIA

Mike Bernier, Minister of Education. POSTMEDIA

When I was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion with Minister of Education Mike Bernier, and Minister of Jobs and Skills Training Shirley Bond earlier this week, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I knew they’d be faced with difficult questions surrounding the recent Supreme Court ruling which sided with the BC Teachers’ Federation after a 14-year battle over bargaining rights related to class size and composition.

I knew that the subjects of budget allocations, waning resources, and outdated seismic upgrades would dominate the conversation, and I knew that the room full of astute guests would bring thought-provoking, carefully-prepared questions that would challenge the ministers as they readied for the upcoming election.

I expected the room to air their grievances now that they were given a platform to do so, and in some ways, they did. But what I didn’t expect, was to walk away with a very important takeaway - for myself, and for all of us.

Over the past 14 years, I’ve listened to friends and family passionately protest the decisions made by the government in regards to our school system and the turmoil the teachers and students have faced as a result of past mistakes - and rightly so. But I realized in that moment, that all of the valuable comments, ideas and concerns I had heard from those who spoke on the subject so passionately, were only being shared behind closed doors.

Now that the ruling has been made and the courtroom battle has finally come to a close, we as parents and teachers need to stop dwelling on past discrepancies and start declaring the changes we want to see happen.

On many occasions during the discussion, Minister Bernier emphasized that allocating more money towards education was necessary, but more money alone was not the finite solution. He repeatedly stressed that if our government isn’t clear on what we want to see done with that money, then the decisions made may not match what we think should be made top priority.

It’s up to us as teachers and parents to tell them - the decision makers - what we want. Don’t just wish things would change and share ideas behind closed doors - go straight to the source. Contact the Ministry of Education and let them know what your biggest concerns are regarding the future of your children. Let them know what they can do to begin the process of mending the rift that has been fracturing our education system for all of these years.

I’m not asking you to forgive and forget, but we’re not going to advance the future of education in B.C. if we focus on past mistakes. Instead, we need to stop complaining, and start communicating.

Share your thoughts and ideas with our Ministers, and you might be surprised to learn that someone is actually listening. Take action and send an e-mail directly to our Ministry of Education: educ.correspondence@gov.bc.ca.

Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, freelance writer, and content marketing Queen Bee. She tweets at @bitsofbee and blogs at www.bitsofbee.com