In the ongoing School Wars of British Columbia the latest "Victory" was achieved by the teachers' union, the BCTF. Judge Griffin ruled that the government did no bargain in good faith cvoncerning issues of class size and composition, that previous arrangements should be restored and fined the government $2million.
Teacher unionists were of mixed mind since appeals and negotiations were ongoing. I wrote a letter-to-the editor to our local paper, but it did not get published. Below is a copy:
The patience of parents and public alike has been sorely tested by the endless conflicts between the teachers’ union and the government.
What we fail to remember is that these struggles have been going on for over 40 years, not the 12-year period recently highlighted by the recent BC Supreme Court decision (BCTF vs BC, 2014). Furthermore, this happens regardless of the political stripe of the government of the day — be it Social Credit, NDP or Liberal.
This is a power struggle that may never be sorted out. Legal actions bankrupt resources. Students are shortchanged. And parents, who are ultimately responsible for their children’s education, are left unsure, frustrated and unable to pursue their children’s best interests.
Much of the problem rests with the service model adopted to ensure an educated public. The mistake is to consider education as a public utility that only a government monopoly can provide. The predictable happens — special interests vie for control and interfere with the intended mission.
However, if the common good of appropriately educated students is to be served, why not seek alternative models to deliver the desired outcomes?
Even now, economists are warning that many school graduates are not meeting career or college expectations. But so much is known about what works in education and much more can be achieved with greater innovation, flexibility and stability.
Why not release the public education dollar and have it follow the student? Charter schools are working elsewhere. Education Savings Accounts are being used in some US states for parents to shop and mix-and-match education choices for their kids. In particular, special needs and talents are better served in this manner.
This current impasse provides a great opportunity to try different ways to help our kids and grandkids get the education they need for the 21st Century.