As another school year begins, students and teachers are heading back to overcrowded classrooms because the BC Liberal government refuses to keep its promise to improve learning conditions, BCTF President Irene Lanzinger said today.
“Our students deserve better than broken promises,” said Lanzinger. “In 2005, the BC Liberal government passed legislation designed to reduce class sizes and improve conditions for students with special needs. Three years later, we’re still waiting to see the funding needed to make that happen.”
Despite the premier’s commitment to tackle class size and class composition, learning conditions in BC are not improving. Last year, there were more than 3,000 classes across the province that exceeded the BC Liberals’ own legislated requirements, affecting more than 8,000 students. In addition, over 10,000 classes had four or more students with special needs—another violation of provincial legislation.
“A lot of promises were made, but nothing was delivered,” said Lanzinger. “The government refuses to provide the resources to get the job done. There is no new money to reduce class sizes and nothing to help students with special needs. If that wasn’t challenging enough, school districts have been forced to close 177 schools.”
Even with all the startling statistics, Lanzinger said she was optimistic about the important year ahead.
“Teachers right across British Columbia are excited to get back in the classroom and make a difference in the lives of BC kids,” said Lanzinger. “This summer, hundreds of teachers met in Kamloops to prepare for the year ahead. There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the coming school year, especially one that will bring two important elections.
“Teachers in BC are looking forward to the opportunity to ensure education issues become top of mind as voters head to the municipal and provincial polls. We are going to work with parents in every community to protect public education and improve learning conditions for all children in BC. Today, more than ever, we need to stand together to protect and enhance our public education system.”