LETTER: Funding for education needs a dramatic overhaul

No way the BCTF is going to force the government to acquiesce to its demands

I’m afraid that Doug Smuland, president of the Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association,  is so out of touch, it seems, with the public, taxpayers and the electorate but only with the most pedantically indoctrinated teachers’ union members, that he does not realize the potential damage that he has made to his reputation as a spokesperson for teachers in Abbotsford School District, as well as to the public’s respect for the wonderful teachers that we have here in School District No. 34.

(“Sex, Arab Spring cited in letter from teachers’ association president” – abbynews.com, Aug. 2.)

Encouraging teachers to participate in a mass demonstration either before the Abbotsford Board of Education at its next meeting or on the lawn of the Legislature or anywhere else, will not result in any kind of bodily experience and intense orgasmic-like emotion, but will result only in a false sense of satisfaction in the very short run and increased frustration and depression by teachers in the long run.

Picketing in front of schools, soliciting honking responses from passing motorists will only add to that false sense of satisfaction that most teachers seem to be caught up in as a result of their benign ignorance of the superior strategic thinking and power of the provincial government over a union that could never get the governing party tossed out of power like it did once before.

Acting like a schoolyard bully will not get the BCTF what it wants even though its goals are laudable.

And for those who feel that the B.C. government has broken a “law,” it hasn’t. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the constitution are not laws. Laws are derived from the principles underlying the Charter and this whole issue is based on an interpretation of a supposed violation of that Charter, which really can only be finally decided upon by the Supreme Court of Canada and not by armchair lawyers and benignly ignorant letter-writers to the Abbotsford News, let alone one B.C. Supreme Court justice.

Depriving children of their historically legislated right to an education, albeit not to the level or standard that he and his 40,000 colleagues throughout the province would prefer to have, will only lead to further dissatisfaction by teachers’ strongest supporters and educational stakeholders – parents.

The electorate (otherwise known as the shareholders), minus parents of school-age children, is becoming increasing bothered by the growth in the provincial and federal debts and the ramifications that they may have on them, their children and grandchildren.

Every person in this province, from newly-born children to centenarians, is $8,917-plus in debt provincially and $17,420-plus in debt federally, for a total of $26,337 (according to the Royal Bank of Canada).  The provincial debt is $65,572,000,000 according to the provincial government’s ministry of finance and the federal government’s debt is $620,000,000,000, according to figures extracted from the federal government’s documents.

As someone who started teaching in this province in 1971, who has been a reporter and editor of two community weekly newspapers reporting on education, as well as a B.C. School Trustees Association communications officer, a producer and host of 50 television programs on education for four school districts, a school trustee, a communications consultant to six school districts in the Fraser Valley during an earlier stage in my 46-year-long career, I have gained insights into the “education wars” that we have had in this province over the past 40-plus years – including periods when the Social Credit, New Democratic and B.C. Liberal parties have been in power.

Furthermore, I have been an election campaign specialist for the B.C. Liberal Party (1994-2001), and have gained insights into the politics of education, and there is no way on this Earth that the BCTF is going to force the government to acquiesce to its demands, particularly in light of a court appeal on a principle of extreme importance to the control of educational funding in this country, let alone this province.

The underlying premise of funding for education in this province is archaic and needs a dramatic overhaul, and teachers striking does and will do nothing to change that premise to what it should be.

 

G.E. MacDonell

Abbotsford