The trouble with normal, as Bruce Cockburn once said, is that it always gets worse.
While most of the public has been mostly unaware of the slide in the quality of B.C.’s education system, teachers and students have seen and felt the effects of what amounts to deregulation of class sizes and composition.
Like a bolt of common sense stirred up from a storm 12 years in the making, the provincial government’s education-impacting Bills 22 and 28 were deemed to be in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms two weeks ago in a B.C. Supreme Court decision.
It’s the second time that’s happened in the last three years — the first unconstitutional ruling was in 2011, at which point the province was given a year to sort it out. This time around, a momentous shift has been dealt in a 115-page ruling that bodes well for the integrity of education in B.C.
Madam Justice Susan Griffin awarded more than $2 million to the teachers’ union, and found that the government tried to provoke a teacher strike in 2012. It’s a dirty tactic, and it’s surprising that finding hasn’t spurred more than a luke-warm reaction from the School District 6 board and administration, who’ve taken a wait-and-see approach to the implications of this.
In practical terms, it means that classes now packed with more than 30 students, including several with learning disabilities, will be brought back to reasonable levels that won’t overload teachers’ ability to teach and students’ ability to learn. It will be significantly more expensive, but if we could afford to adequately fund the education system in 2002, we can find ways to do it now.
If there’s one thing valley residents are united against, it’s lengthy court battles with only one realistic outcome. It’s now clear that’s been the inevitable outcome of this battle all along.
It might mean short-term pain for taxpayers, but the valley and the province is much better off with this court decision — though you can expect an appeal soon from the province.