It seems September 23rd is the rumored date for an introduction to private education in this province. I've heard this date mentioned a few times in the last week. It could be why Christy Clark is unwilling to consider any option the BCTF presents. Why would she when she's so close to the big reveal?
This strike has been tough on many in this province.
A friend of mine on Facebook is asking that we stay focused on solutions. My first solution, always, in a democracy is to use my voice to speak up for those I feel have been treated unfairly. I've spoken up on behalf of my son, who has missed his first week of school. I have spoken up on behalf of other families and on behalf of teachers across this province. Many of us have spoken up. But the Premier is not listening.
Premier Clark and her government just rejected an offer from the BCTF to settle this nearly four month long strike via binding arbitration. Clark's Education Minister, Peter Fassbender, called it "another empty effort" by the union to give us all "false hope".
Now, I understand some people have mixed feelings about the teachers' union. But from my point of view, the union and its teachers are the only parties in this dispute who are willing to negotiate. They're the only ones moving. Christy Clark has not offered any new money or any new solutions. She has not moved a single step in the direction of solving this problem. Not once. Because she doesn't want to. She wants to privatize the school system. It's seems incredibly clear that this is her agenda. And it appears that September 23rd could be the date that agenda is made public.
As I've said previously, I am entirely opposed to a voucher system. It will undo many families, financially, as they struggle to provide the best education they can afford. And it will leave the poorest families among us, who couldn't even begin to consider shopping around for that education, to settle for substandard underfunded schooling for their children.
I am entirely in support of a thriving, properly funded public education for all. Because the kid who goes to school hungry deserves the same access to a great education as the kid who is well fed. Given that British Columbia has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, you can believe teachers in this province educate a lot of hungry kids. We need to put our focus back on feeding them - not on stripping away the last remaining nutrients in their schooling.
So I will continue to speak up. I will continue to celebrate those I know who can afford to send their children to private school and I will also continue to point out what many of us are saying repeatedly: Most families in this province cannot shoulder that financial burden. We need a well educated populace. All children in this province deserve access to a great education regardless of their socioeconomic status. And it affects us all if they don't get it.
So here's my solution: If the Liberals don't get back to the table; if they do indeed release plans for a voucher system instead, then it's time for a recall. Christy Clark's riding is Westside-Kelowna. According to the Recall and Initiative Act, 18 months must pass from voting day before a recall application can be made. Only a registered voter in her riding can begin this process.
The government is not working for us. They're not even listening. And we cannot be ignored for another three years. So we need to make some changes.
If you're a parent affected by this strike, mark down September 23rd on your calendar. And if you're a registered voter in Westside-Kelowna, get out your pen and flip ahead to November 17th, 2014.
Write down RECALL.
It's time for Christy Clark to go.
AKA, The Happiness Detective
Letter to Christy Clark from Naomi Lazarus:
To Christy Clark,
This is another futile attempt at communication with your office. So far I've received form letters that say nothing of import, and a woman who answers your phone only to tell me to write more emails that result in form letters that say nothing of import.
There's a rumour going around that you plan on introducing a three tiered education plan on September 23rd, with more of an emphasis on private education.
I think this shows a profound disconnect with the lives of the vast majority of people in BC. The percentage of British Columbians who can afford private schools for their children is vanishingly small.
More relevantly, we, as taxpayers and voters rely on you, our government, to provide us with essential services.
One of the things I think politicians (particularly right wing politicians; and, no, the name of your party does not fool me) forget, when prioritizing the budget in terms of education, is that absolutely every aspect of our society, our economy and our way of life is built upon the education of children. There is no service more essential.
Making education lower quality, and harder to access (which is what privatization would inexorably do) threatens our economy, our democracy and the quality of life of every person who lives in this province.
You ran on the platform of "Families First". You have cut funding to every single public service that the families of BC rely on, from healthcare to legal aid, family courts, domestic violence support, special needs assessment and support, autism support, support for single mothers and aboriginal parents, and, of course, education.
My family pays around $2000 a year less in income tax, thanks to you. Do you imagine that $2000 can possibly cover the range of services you have cut? I assure you, it cannot. And my family doesn't need legal services, domestic violence relief or special education for my child. We're low-maintenance, healthy, stable, middle class people. For those families dealing with autism, violence, poverty and children's special needs, your poor decisions with our budget have cost them painfully. Take back my $2000 and use it to pay for the services every family needs.
You have twice been found guilty of trampling the rights of the teachers. You are, without really any subtlety, trying to break their union. You made a big mistake, and, instead of fixing it, you have doubled down and made it worse. You have put Families Last.
If this rumour is true, if you are planning to take even more money out of public education, if you are trying to privatize education, if you are declaring war on the poor and middle class families of this province, I promise there will be a recall in November.
You lied to the people of this province and you have betrayed our trust. You do not deserve your lofty position and will be removed from it.
Do your job. Raise high income and corporate taxes, give the teachers the pathetically small amount they are asking for, and serve your province. Or we, the voters, will replace you with someone who will.
ps Please do not bother responding to this letter unless you actually have something to say.