Letter: B.C. Liberal neglect confirmed by Supreme Court of Canada

Dear Editor,

After 14 long, unnecessary years, the BCTF has finally been vindicated by the Supreme Court of Canada. 

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The Supreme Court ruling proves that the B.C. Liberal government has been failing all of B.C.’s kids when it prohibited teachers from negotiating class size and composition.

What does this decision mean for our public schools now? 

First and foremost, this epic victory will allow school districts to hire desperately needed support staff to help implement the provincial curriculum, set up invaluable supports for our kids with special needs and hire more teachers for the new classes that will be created, so that the number of students allowed in each class is respected. 

For example, the limit for Grade 1-3 was 24, but could now go back down to the original 22. Potentially, this could displace two students per class.

If this is the case, I predict another benefit for our district in Richmond. 

Since the maximum number of students in each class is now going to go down, this will mean that more classes and schools will be at or over capacity, as opposed to being considered under capacity, when we use the correct figures to calculate. 

This secondary effect of the Supreme Court ruling will have huge implications for Richmond in particular. 

The recent school closure process brought to light which schools are under capacity, however, this capacity was calculated using a higher maximum number of students. 

For example, my son’s class, which has 22 students, will now be at capacity, whereas before, it was counted as being under capacity. 

Also, schools already at or over capacity in our city and around the province are going to have to find more space in their overcrowded schools for the extra classrooms needed to respect the new limits.

Another ongoing issue is the under-funding crisis. The per-pupil funding model has proven to be ineffective, as school boards across B.C. struggle to balance budgets. 

Richmond alone has had to make cuts every year for the last 14 years and this year is predicting a $5 million dollar shortfall. 

If we factor in yesterday’s announcement, one can really see how unsustainable the per-pupil funding model actually is. 

More teachers and staff will need to be hired, yet the total number of students in a school will remain the same, thus the amount of funding will also stay the same.

Yesterday, teachers, parents and kids across the province were given affirmation from the Supreme Court of Canada that the B.C. government has deliberately been neglecting our public education system for 14 years by not acknowledging that class size and composition affect the quality of instruction and learning. 

Some kids have spent their whole school experience under these unjust conditions.

Now is the time to hold the B.C. Liberals accountable and demand change. 

We have confirmation. The system is broken.

Kim Nowitsky

Richmond

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