We the people of British Columbia urge and expect that you solve the present crisis and let our schools open by agreeing to arbitration.
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We disagree with the position that funding for class size and composition not be part of bargaining but for now settle all else and then continue negotiating. Special education students or any type of learner can’t be blamed for the present underfunding we are facing in our schools. Teachers can’t be blamed and have shown flexibility and initiative to find a settlement. We want more supports for our special needs students as soon as possible.
The problem is not with our special needs children and how to service them, as government continues to imply and muddles the waters but with the chronic erosion in funding impacting all classrooms. There has been a 12 year struggle to regain the funding that was taken away from all students resulting in unworkable learning and teaching conditions. Class size, composition and ratios to specialist workloads have worked well before government took that language away in 2002. Matching need with service is the best way to guarantee support for students and allow the classroom teacher to focus on all children. Schools require resource, learning assistance and integration teachers, psychologists, counselors, librarians, speech and language pathologists, English language teachers, music and drama teachers, Educational Assistants etc. to provide excellent and timely service to students.
Twice the courts found government wrong and ordered it to make amends and return that language. Now government continues to impose preconditions and not moving their position when teachers are. This is unacceptable to us as students, parents, teachers and taxpaying citizens. We all want schools to open as soon as possible. We demand that government lift the stumbling block to mediation (E80) which is that teachers sign away what they won in the courts. We urgently expect government to agree to binding arbitration and support public education, the cornerstone of our democratic society and future prosperity.
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