In light of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation’s recent decision to hold a three-day strike this week, I would like to express my support for the students and families affected by this dispute.
The B.C. government is doing its best to accommodate the needs of students, families, teachers, and staff at B.C. schools.
Students and families deserve to have confidence in the education system, schools, and teachers. Parents deserve to know how their children are doing at school, and we will try to prevent another school year from passing without this line of accountability.
On Feb. 28, the B.C. Government introduced Bill 22, the Education Improvement Act, to help facilitate an agreement between government and the union. This bill sets a six-month “cooling off” period, during which a mediator will work to achieve a reasonable settlement that satisfies all parties.
Bill 22 also introduces several initiatives that will benefit teachers and students, including the $165 million Learning Improvement Fund. This fund allows school districts to hire additional teachers and special education assistants, provide more teaching time, and support teacher training and professional development.
We are putting more money into classrooms, improving supports for students and teachers, and facilitating consultation on class organization. We have restored the opportunity to bargain class size and related matters, and we are providing additional compensation for teachers whose class sizes exceeds the student limit.
Together, these provisions are significant gains that recognize the important role and contribution of teachers. We are committed to reaching a responsible conclusion to this dispute that protects the best interests of students, parents, and families in B.C.
I hope that we will continue to move forward in a constructive and amicable way in order to restore certainty and trust to our education system.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.