Friday, June 20, 2014

Public Education is the foundation of Democracy

Dear Constituents of Saanich South,

As you know, public school teachers across the province are out on strike. They are demanding improved wages, smaller class sizes and better support for students with special needs.

As a parent of a grade 10 student in the public system I know how urgently improvements are needed in our schools …and I know how harmful this strike is to students, especially those in grades 11 and 12.

It is time for the government to come to the table and negotiate better terms for teachers. 

Instead, we see the government turning away from the breakdown in our public school system. In fact, we know from testimony made under oath in Court by the BC Liberal government’s own chief negotiator that the government’s explicit goal was to provoke the teachers into striking.

They pushed the teachers into this strike in order to create a crisis that they can use to justify forcing teachers back to work through punitive legislation.

No less an authority than the Supreme Court of BC has ruled – not once, but twice -- that the BC Liberals broke the law when negotiating with teachers. In the last ruling, made in January of this year, the Court even fined the BC government two million dollars for acting in bad faith.

This dispute has severely disrupted the school year and schools are now shut down with no end in sight.

That is why BC’s Opposition Leader John Horgan today called on the government to bring in an independent negotiator to help settle this dispute.

If the BC Liberals think teachers will put their tail between their legs and slink back to the classroom they are delusional.

Teachers have tried bargaining patiently for years. They have tried modest job action. They have tried rotating strikes. All of it has been answered by the BC Liberals with hostility and political manoeuvring.

To the BC Liberal Government, inflicting pain on students and parents and teachers in the public school system is better than paying the cost of addressing sub-standard class size and composition.

Thank you BC teachers for fighting for what is right!

With the public’s help, public educators will teach the BC Liberals a lesson:

British Columbians expect their government to fund a healthy public education system.

Email Premier Christy Clark a message and help her learn this lesson.

And join me in speaking out in support of public education. It is the foundation of democracy.


Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South