Education must be a priority

I taught for 33 years in the Vernon School District in elementary schools. Sixteen of those years were as a principal. When I started teaching in 1964, students with special needs were in separate schools with small groups and support staff.

We taught each subject, tested the students, and gave them letter grades on report cards. Then it was decided to close schools with special needs students and mainstream them into the public school system. It worked fairly well as support systems were put in place to assist classroom teachers.

This included learning assistant teachers, teacher librarians, counsellors, teacher assistants and administration. Special needs students, such as remedial, gifted, first nations and those with behaviour and physical challenges, were put on individual education programs with support to the classroom teacher. The teacher was expected to differentiate instruction for each of these students for every forty minute subject while teaching the rest of the class at the same time throughout the day. In my experience this is impossible without classroom support.

Then along came Christy Clark’s Liberals. Education was underfunded for years and school boards were forced to make cuts. Since most of the funding covers salaries, and fixed costs like heat, light, phone, and bussing it was inevitable that support staff was cut to classroom teachers along with school supplies, busing, and school maintenance. In my opinion meeting the needs of special needs students in a classroom is now impossible. This is how Christy Clark protects the classroom.

Clark’s Liberals then decided to ignore teacher contracts and increase class sizes and control classroom composition.

It took years in court before teacher’s contracts were upheld and Clark’s Liberals were recently forced to put millions of dollars back into the school system. I encourage you to vote for a party that supports public education in B.C.

Bud Collis

Vernon