BC Public Education is in Danger
Public education as we know it is in danger in BC. Here is why the current fight being waged by teachers is very important. It is about a fight the government has waged on teachers regarding the purpose of K-12 public education. With Bill 22 the way we educate our children in the province will change dramatically. The current fight being advertised by government on teachers is simply to keep all eyes away from what lies underneath and is about to be rolled out.
Government sees the education of our children:
• as something that can be sold on the open market and as a place the business community can access to make large profits
• as a training ground to provide inexpensive labour and a large consumer group
• Like other financial ventures it is to be efficient, accountable, have success gauged by numbers
• Choice will only be provided to those lucky enough to be able to afford it
• The upper levels of K-12 will only be available to a few
• Unions are a bother by voicing opposing opinions to the government mandate
• Focus on creating a system that is equitable to all, where all students have a realistic opportunity to be the best they can be
• See no pre-determined hierarchy, simply students who all deserve an opportunity and the best that society can provide for them
• Want to surround every child with a community in hopes that they will reach their full potential.
• Focus on creating a system based on equity and equality mirroring the one that provides the educational foundation in Finland - #2 in world rankings in math, science and reading
• Canada currently ranks an average #5 in the world in math, science and reading
• Government wants an cheaper education system styled after the USA that currently ranks 21st
• 2002 – 2003: education accounted for 26% of the total provincial budget
• 2012 – 2013: education will account for only 15% of the total provincial budget
• 2012 – 2013: $4.7 billion – if still at 26%, the education budget would be $8.1 billion
• The education system should be getting an additional $3.4 billion if it still held the 2002 – 2003 priority in the provincial budget
• Government is looking for ways to make the education budget even less over the next few years
• Chronic underfunding has left all but 6 School Boards in Funding Protection (similar to Bankruptcy protection)
• Board funds have been frozen for the next 3 years leaving a $100 million shortfall this year
• Severe cuts have already been made – cuts now in school closures, zero for supplies and resources
• Bill 22 stripping of contracts will save money by making it easier to replace experienced teachers with less experienced, less expensive ones. In many cases teachers can be replaced with non-teachers providing even more savings
• Current negotiations are a diversion to keep people from focusing on the major issue for this government – the rapid implementation of the BC Education Plan:
• Accepting feedback from the public even though changes are already written providing the perception that they are listening to the public
• "Personalized learning" means students staying at home and learning on their own computer
• Will allow hundreds of students per teacher
• Cheaper non-teachers available for students to submit assignments and pick up new ones
• Contract changes allow for removal of teachers that do not agree
• Money will be saved on school buildings as all but a few regional buildings can be sold - no longer be required to service children who are now taking courses on line at home
• Standardized assessment will become easier as the teaching from on-line teachers will be the same
• Ready market for large corporations wanting to sell technology. The consulting board for the BC Education Plan had 20 members tied to the corporate world and zero educators
• Creation of a system dependent on technology providing a ready market for both hardware and software manufacturers as well as internet providers – including the sale of data plans.
• Control of curriculum and standardization will allow students to complete school by grade 10 providing needed cheap (and undereducated) labour during the week. Leaving in grade 10 will mean more students will not have enough education to go to university and will more than likely stay in lower paying jobs in the company they work for.
• Education left in the hands of busy parents and at home with little direct supervision, making it more likely they fall behind and only finish up to grade 10. Earning money at an earlier age could benefit the family income as well as provide a great source of disposable income – more purchasing power at a younger age which is good for business.
• Private school students, who will remain in the traditional model to grade 12, and only the most motivated children in the public system, will have the skills to enter university – predominantly leaving the rich who can afford private school to claim higher level jobs
• Larger number of workers and dismantling of the trade unions will allow for a lower minimum wage once again, as well as eroding worker rights, providing more flexibility and higher profits for businesses. As well, with the rising numbers of consumers, sales will improve.
• While people throughout BC worry about the little things the government is focused on something much bigger - dismantling our current system (ranked #5 in the world) and replacing it with a cheaper model (similar to those ranked #22 - #25 in the world) – one that provides preferential treatment to those who can afford it. Bill 22 must be stopped or brace for dramatic changes.
A BC Teacher
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