Saturday, November 27, 2010

Only in British Columbia

Those of you who lived through the crazy 1980's in BC will not be surprised by this fall's politics. Tax cut, no tax cut. BC's new education policy, no new policy. New Education Minister (George Abbot), old Education Minister (back to Margaret MacDiarmid).

But never be fooled that the change means the ideologues are going away. We remember that the death of the Socreds was the birth of the Liberals.

Also on the horizon this week is the possibility of a return of Christy Clark - anointed by some as the Sarah Palin of Canada, and known to teachers as the architect of many a failed education policy - grade 10 and 11 provincial exams, the never funded failure "portfolios", and the never made it even into policy "three graduation streams". Clark was Minister when class size and composition limits were stripped, when special education funding for most categories was eliminated, and really was in many ways the mastermind of ten years of gradual erosion of programs and services in schools.

Now is the time for education advocates to speak louder than ever. While the Liberal hopefuls are racing to lead the party and racing to distance themselves from the Campbell years, there is an opportunity to put PUBLIC education back on the agenda, to confront the testing and ranking of the FSAs, to advocate for full funding for cash strapped school boards. And while the NDP has its own inner party struggle, now is also the time to pressure them to take a position on education issues - more funding, elimination of public funding for private schools, reinstatement of class size and class composition provisions and the repeal of the essential services legislation.

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