High-quality education should be a priority

Quality, well-funded education should be a priority in British Columbia.

Dear editor,

Providing public education of the highest quality is the responsibility of the Government of B.C. To do so, government depends on the BCTF, which represents the teachers employed by the government. For the most part, these two entities work closely together on a day-to-day basis, providing (historically) some of the best public education in the world. So why the strike?

Because over the past 12 years, public education and the teaching profession in B.C. have both suffered financial losses. At the same time, both have become more complex and demanding as student-centred (learning-centred) supports and conditions disappear. Parents and other members of the public may think a strike is the worst thing that could happen to education; in fact, the worst thing is chronic underfunding. Teachers are on strike because every other avenue to end the chronic underfunding has failed. If we do not take this stand, those losses will continue and, most likely, increase.

B.C. teachers have been patient with government. We have even trusted them, signing short-term contracts, in the hopes of larger gains in the future. Those gains were rarely granted, and if they were, were not funded. Our resolve to hold government accountable to B.C. children and their teachers is strong. It is also painful and expensive. Although the courts have twice ruled that the government’s stripping of learning conditions was illegal, the government is stalling any restorative action by appealing what the law has declared.

That these court cases were even necessary is shameful. And they continue to be costly: the BCTF has spent a large portion of its teachers’ union dues; the government, on the other hand, continues to spend your tax money (and mine) to hire lawyers to argue against appropriately funding education, preferring to give money to the courts instead of classrooms. 

How can B.C., let alone your child, continue or begin to prosper when high-quality public education is not a priority in our province? Our government collects more school taxes on more properties with higher values than ever before — so why is public education considered a burden (as the government so often declares public education to be) instead of a hallmark of good governance? Our children’s education is one of the best investments our government and families can make. It is the only way our province, and our children and their future families, will prosper in the future.

Currently, teachers are sacrificing their family incomes for this fight; that’s how dire we see the situation in B.C. schools.

What are you doing?

Heather Johnson

Port Alice