Listen to our children's teachers!

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Listen to our children's teachers!

This petition had 6,063 supporters
Marina Bettaglio started this petition to Premier Christy Clark and

Dear Premier Clark,

We write to you as parents and as concerned citizens of the province of British Columbia. The recognition is hitting home that our children will likely not return to school on September 2, and that the teacher’s strike could continue well into October. We are profoundly disappointed with your government’s disregard for public education.  It is your responsibility as our elected leader to support public education, not to erode it.  Some in the media are calling for both parties to set aside their differences for the sake of the children.  We fundamentally disagree with this approach. This dispute has not had a speedy resolution for two reasons, both of them your responsibility: your government’s unwillingness to provide adequate funding for public education, and your government’s demonstrated failure to negotiate in good faith.

Throughout this strike it has been apparent that your government has no interest in the quality of education children in grades K-12 have in this province. Children of wealthy parents who can afford private school will receive education, but those who attend public schools, who are your responsibility, will not.  They stand to receive merely daycare, if they are younger than 13 - and not even that, if (as is very likely) there are no places available for them, or if they are in high school.  Your cynical proposal to offer compensation of $40/day per child displays your lack of respect for public education.  Providing money for daycare amounts to dismissing schools as disposable goods, mere parking garages for the children of working families. The citizens of British Columbia expect their government to care about providing children with the best education possible.  A government that shows this kind of disrespect for education is squandering the immense potential of our children. This stipend also wrongly supposes that daycare spots are plentiful or that somehow the infrastructure for childcare can be manufactured out of thin air.

In underfunding our public education system, your government is conveying the message that access to high quality education is an economic privilege and not a public right.  In offering parents of children under the age of 13 a stipend for daycare, you are also telling our children that school is a waste of their time, as your policy seems to equate going to school with daycare.  It can be expected that many parents will register to receive the $40/day stipend, but do not take their decision as support for that measure.  They will take the stipend out of sheer need, as the alternative would be to quit their jobs in order to stay at home with their children. 

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that this stipend is fundamentally discriminatory, in that it excludes two important groups of people: low-income parents who cannot afford to pay the daycare fees in advance and wait possibly several months for the reimbursement, and parents of children with special needs who cannot be accommodated in regular daycare centres or day camps.  The teacher’s demands for improved class size and class composition and for more specialist assistants, for which they have already fought and won two court battles, speaks directly to this problem of lack of equity in our educational system, a problem about which your government does not seem to care very much.

These ethical and pedagogical problems also have economic implications.  Let’s do the math.  $40/day is $800/month for each child, which according to your government’s figures will amount to about $12 million per day, or over $300 million if the strike does indeed continue until the Legislature reconvenes in October.  Many have already pointed this out, but we will say it again: your government seems to have over $300 million to spare. Why  would your government rather give it to parents to pay for daycare than put it towards meeting the teacher’s demands and ending the strike? Your government clearly has the money to end the strike right now, but would rather prolong it. Why?

Have you considered the impact of your measure on high school students?  What will happen to those students who have to prepare for university, those who care about education and want to attend the best university programmes, nationally or internationally?  They will be short-changed and deprived, through no fault of their own, of the opportunity to enter the most competitive programmes.  This result will be entirely the fault of your government’s unprincipled disrespect for public education.

How will your government explain to high school students that they will be underprepared for provincial tests?  How will you defend public education to our future leaders, who are still in school?  What kind of message do you want to send to our youth?  How will you explain the disregard for teachers and general contempt for education that your policies demonstrate?  The teachers’ demands relating to class size, class composition and assistance for special needs children go directly towards improving the quality of education for our children.  It is an outrage that you are prepared to pay potentially over $300 million for babysitting rather than invest in the quality of our children’s education. 

We call on you not to waste provincial money on babysitting, but to use it instead to end the teacher’s strike now, so that our children can go back to school and get the high quality education they deserve, and our province needs them to receive. 

Education is not a public expense, as your government seems to believe; it is a public investment in the future.  It is time for your government to invest.

Yours sincerely, 

Elena Pnevmonidou

Marina Bettaglio

Laurel Bowman

Janelle Jensted

Stephen Ross

Beate Schmidtke

Oliver Schmidtke

 

 

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