Parents are speaking out over the provincial education dispute.
In response to systemic problems within the B.C. education system, parent leaders from 28 school districts representing the parents of 81 per cent of B.C. students met in Richmond on the weekend to find a way forward.
Consensus was reached, and now those parents – through the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) – are proposing two actions and inviting all education partners to support their recommendations.
Parents appreciate that both government and the BCTF care deeply about students, and recognise that the BCTF’s first responsibility is the interests of its members, while government is responsible for balancing the overall needs of British Columbians.
“The primary advocates for students are their parents. As the provincial voice of parents, it’s BCCPAC’s purpose to support all B.C. parents in this role,” said BCCPAC president Nicole Makohoniuk of Vernon.
BCCPAC expects that schools will open as usual on Sept 2.
To achieve this, their first action is to call on both sides to end all job action. Students deserve to be in classrooms that are free from this continuing labour dispute.
“We expect the two parties to continue earnest, respectful negotiations behind closed doors,” said Makohoniuk. “We hope a negotiated settlement at the bargaining table, with the aid of mediator Vince Ready, will be reached without resorting to any measures that directly impact our children.”
The second action is to call for immediate improvements to classroom resources that support students.
Parents suggest the creation of a classroom resources fund that is protected from other cost pressures and will be used to optimize learning opportunities for each student in every class.
“B.C. parents want to move away from the current methodology of quotas and ratios, which are not distributing resources in the best way for B.C. students,” said Makohoniuk. “Distribution of this resource fund would be initiated by teachers at each school in consultation and collaboration with students, parents and other involved staff.”
The resulting recommendations would be approved by the principal after further consultation, and ultimately approved and provided by boards of education.
“It is important that classroom resources be directed by the school community to address the specific needs of each class and support the learning of every student in that class,” said Makohoniuk.
Other long-term measures were discussed at the meeting. These concepts will be developed by BCCPAC and District Parent Advisory Councils (DPACs) through further consultations with parents.
“We encourage all PACs, DPACs and parents to initiate discussion in their school communities – including teachers, support workers, principals, and the trustees – to find the best way for all students to have their needs met,” said Makohoniuk. “All education partners must work together as a team in the best interests of students to further improve B.C.’s world-leading education system.
“BCCPAC invites all other education partners to join in protecting the interests of students and making sure that schools are as they should be come Sept. 2: places for students to learn in a safe and nurturing environment.”