After three years of meetings and no progress, the 700 elected delegates at the BCTF Annual General Meeting voted to leave the government’s failed Learning Round Table.
“The Learning Round Table has had 12 meetings since Premier Gordon Campbell first announced it, but after three years it has become nothing more than a public relations exercise,” said BCTF President Irene Lanzinger. “Teachers have been full participants in the Round Table, but after years of broken promises and government stalling, they are frustrated. There is no concrete plan or funding to reduce class sizes and improve support for children with special needs.”
At the last Round Table meeting in January, the data presented by the Minister of Education show 3,336 class-size violations with more than 30 students for the 2008–09 school year. That is up from 3,179 in 2007–08. There are also 10,985 class-composition violations this year. That means there are close to 11,000 classes with four or more students with special needs. That number is up from 10,313 in 2007–08. In 2005–06, when BC teachers first went on strike, there were 10,942 violations.
“Learning conditions in BC are worse today than they were before the 2005 strike,” said Lanzinger. “Representatives have gone to meeting after meeting, with no positive results. To stay at the table, teachers were looking see a concrete plan and new resources. Unfortunately, the provincial budget made it clear that there will not be enough funding to even cover basic costs.”
The latest BC Liberal budget, which ignored class-size concerns and support for children with special needs, will force school districts to make cuts. The small 1.26% increase to public education is less than inflation, and will not cover salary increases. In addition, 33 school districts in the province have had their budgets frozen. As a result, students, teachers, and parents should brace for more cuts when the 2009–10 school year begins, Lanzinger said.
Delegates at the BCTF AGM passed the following:
- That the Federation inform the government that it is withdrawing from the Learning Round Table because the government has failed to provide resources necessary to improve the teaching and learning conditions in BC classrooms.
- That the Federation communicate this decision and the reasons for it to trustees, parent committees, and the public in general.
- That the Federation continue to meet bilaterally with the minister of education as contained in the Ready recommendations to affect positive changes to class size and class composition.