MLA report: Gov’t has ‘absolute contempt’ for for public schools

'This government has shown absolute contempt for our public school system'

By Norm Macdonald, MLA for Columbia River–Revelstoke

One the most discussed political topics over the last few weeks has been the judgment against Christy Clark and the BC Liberals which stated that instead of doing what is best for B.C.’s children they did everything they could to try to provoke the teachers into a full-scale strike.

As most of you will know, before becoming the MLA for Columbia River–Revelstoke, I was a teacher and a principal. I have taught in Canada and Africa, and I believe that the opportunity to learn is the greatest gift we can give to our children. It is also the best investment we can make in our future.

For 12 years, the premier, first as Minister of Education in Gordon Campbell’s government, has waged war on teachers, with students and parents as collateral damage. For example, students who graduated in 2013 have spent their entire education coping with reduced services in larger, more complex classrooms.

This government enacted laws that no longer allowed teachers to negotiate classroom conditions. The Supreme Court then ruled that the law was unconstitutional and ordered the government to fix it.

Rather than following the direction of the courts, the premier chose to reintroduce the exact same unconstitutional law in 2012, and took further action to purposefully provoke a teachers’ strike. The premier was entirely motivated by political gamesmanship; what was best for students in classrooms was never even considered.

With the judge’s 2014 ruling we now have access to court records that prove that the government’s actions were entirely focused on shutting down British Columbia’s school system through a strike.

As someone who has spent my entire career working in the education system, this kind of reckless disregard for our children’s well-being almost defies belief. This government has shown absolute contempt for our public school system, and with the announcement that they plan to appeal the judge’s latest ruling, they are also showing absolute contempt for the rule of law.

Norm Macdonald (NDP) is the MLA for Columbia River–Revelstoke