View From Labour By Ken Zydyk

View From Labour By Ken Zydyk
President, Alberni District Teachers’ Union
Gordon Campbell’s attempt to silence his critics has received a significant blow with the recent decision of the B.C. Supreme Court that ruled the legislation as unconstitutional. The GAG law was intended to restrict
various groups from engaging in election-related advertising for a period of 88 days prior to the election. The Supreme Court decision changed the restriction to 28 days before the election. Campbell is so concerned about his critics having a two-week period of free speech that he is asking the judge to set aside the decision until his appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada can be heard. If British Columbia is the “Best Place on Earth” why is Gordon Campbell still trying to silence his critics?
Provincial Government funding levels for School District 70 and several other school districts for the 2009-2010 school year are frozen at 08/09 levels. As a result, further cuts to programs and services are anticipated as the school district will be spending proportionally more of their budget to meet increases in fixed costs such as hydro and the carbon tax. Over the past several years, provincial education funding levels have not kept pace with inflation and have forced school districts to make difficult decisions to try and maintain educational services for students. For example, SD70 has used up almost all of the surplus funds acquired by closing and selling five schools in 2003. Now that the surplus “cushion” is basically gone, the real impact of inadequate funding will emerge. Teachers have noticed a gradual increase in class size, fewer resources and supports for students with special needs, and less choice of electives at the high school level. Other funding casualties have traditionally been loss of library, learning assistance and other specialized services. Unfortunately, education funding estimates for 2010/11 and 2011/12 are even worse and there is no end in sight for the ongoing difficulties school boards experience with provincial funding levels. At a time where governments are attempting to provide economic stimulus, isn’t it time for Gordon Campbell to invest in our children by providing funding for public education that will meet the needs of our kids?
Teachers have decided to end our participation at Gordon Campbell’s Learning Round Table. The Round Table was initiated by the Premier after our October 2005 job action which highlighted the need for government action regarding increasing class size and inadequate supports for students with special
needs. At that time, Campbell promised that those issues would be addressed at the round table. In reality, the Premier did not attend Round Table issues and after 12 meetings and 3 ½ years there has not been any extra resources to address class size and support levels for students with special needs. There continues to be over 10,000 oversized classes and over 4000 classrooms with inadequate support levels for students with special needs in B.C.
Make sure you are registered to vote. If you haven’t yet registered or are unsure if you are registered please contact Elections B.C. Remember, democracy is not a spectator sport.