Bill 11: Let's take a step back.


For the foreseeable future, it seems likely that British Columbians will have to watch as the decades long dance of dysfunction between the BC Government and the BCTF continues to play out.

The most recent iteration of this is taking place in the Legislature this week as we debate Bill 11 – The Education Statutes Amendment Act.

Sadly, with the introduction of this Bill we’ve missed out on an incredible opportunity for British Columbians to come together through an engaging discussion about how we might improve our education system.

In introducing Bill 11, yet another opportunity to rebuild the relationship between teachers and government has been squandered. The Bill unilaterally allows government control over the professional development of teachers, and empowers government to issue directives to school boards that they would be bound to follow.

I want to be clear – I welcome a conversation about reforms to our public education system. We need to be willing to discuss controversial topics like re-examining the role school boards play in a modern education system and whether a decade of corporate and personal income tax cuts have gone too far.

However, these much needed conversations can only take place when all those involved demonstrate a commitment to their relationship with one another, and actively seek to build mutual trust and understanding. And while Bill 11 is only the most recent example of governments role in damaging this relationship, the BCTF is not without responsibility. Earlier this year the BCTF invited the Leader of the BC NDP to address their 2015 AGM in a partisan speech that ended with him calling on everyone to defeat the BC Liberals. This does nothing to build bridges. Rather, it further deepens the partisan divide and everyone loses when that happens.

It is easy to forget that amidst all these issues, British Columbia is home to outstanding teachers and a world renowned education system. We should be celebrating our successes and supporting the good work being done by teachers in our province.

Bill 11 is a poorly thought out piece of legislation that deserved a far more rigorous and substantial public consultation so that we could have the conversation about public education that we need. I will not be supporting its passage and will continue to work to establish a different way forward on public education.

A full copy of my remarks can be found here.

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