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Forging solidarity with BC teachers

Photo: Yesterday's rally in support of BC teachers. Photo by Leila Darwish.

Photo: Yesterday’s rally in support of BC teachers. Photo by Leila Darwish.

The Council of Canadians supports the teachers of British Columbia who are now on strike. We were at an ‘All together for public education!’ rally at Canada Place in Vancouver yesterday evening that media reports say drew about 1,000 people.

British Columbia Teachers Federation president Jim Iker says, “After 12 years of deep cuts, 3,500 teaching positions lost, and 200 schools closed, we are urging this government to reinvest in public education.” He has also highlighted, “Evidence from the government’s own officials presented in BC Supreme Court shows the government has stripped $275 million per year from BC’s public education system. That means an entire generation of BC kids have been short-changed. There is no reason BC’s education system should be funded $1,000 per student below the national average.”

Our Vancouver-based organizer Leila Darwish comments, “Teachers in BC make far less than teachers in other provinces. For example, teachers in BC make $20,000 less than teachers in Alberta. The student-teacher ratio here is among the worst in Canada. Classroom crowding is getting worse and worse. More than 16,000 BC classrooms have four or more children with special needs. Nearly a quarter of those have seven or more.”

The BCTF is seeking: a five-year contract; an 8 per cent salary increase plus signing bonus; no concessions; a $225 million annual workload fund to address issues of class size, class composition, and staffing ratios; and a $225 million fund relating to a BC Supreme Court decision that ordered the government to return class sizes and staffing to 2002 levels.

For more on this situation – and how you can support BC teachers – please see Darwish’s blog The Council of Canadians BC-Yukon Stands in Solidarity with BC Teachers! And for updates and other helpful information, be sure to Like the BC Teachers Federation Facebook page here.