Sunday, March 4, 2012

Public education - Christy: it's about equality

Of all the spin put on the current dispute, one aspect that seems to be getting very little attention is really at the heart of the issue - what level of quality should we provide as a public service? What do the 99% who rely on public (as opposed to private) services deserve?

We already have a "two tiered" education system in Canada. Parents who can afford it send their children to private schools. In BC these schools receive public funding - 55% percent of the per student funding, 100% for a student with special needs.

In the private system, there is much less debate about what schooling should look like or what schools need. I taught at a private school for a year. Classes were small. My largest class was 18 and that was big. The student/educator ratio was 8:1. The school did not have many students with special needs, but it did have a large ESL populations. They had targeted programs, individualized classes, one on one tutoring, special language labs. Everything needed to allow each and every student reach their full potential.

Somehow, our current government doesn't believe public schools should be the same. Somehow, they seem to think it is ok to offer a sub-standard level. They think it is ok for classes to be 30 students (or more). They think it is ok not to offer one-on-one support from specialist teachers. They think it is ok to have crumbling facilities, overcrowded rooms, and second hand computers.

I was struck this week with a letter from a parent I know that really captured this element of the debate. Here is her letter to Christy Clark:

Dear Christy Clark,

I have three poignant questions:

1) Is it true that your son Hamish attends a private school?

2) If so, what is the maximum number of children in his class or classes?

3) How many children with "designated" Special Needs are in Hamish's class or classes?

I think it is important for you to reflect on what kind of public education system you would want for your own son (if you were to choose to enrol him in your local public school) I am not sure that you would want young Hamish in an overcrowded classroom with no limits on the number of special need kids in the room.

As the Premier of our province, I urge you to put your son in the public system so that you might truly understand the stresses on teachers and students. I am not sure that you have full insight on how poorly public school teachers are being treated and how difficult it is for them to provide quality education under current and proposed legislation.

I will look forward to your reply to the above three questions.

So far, Christy has not answered.


  1. Every person who complains that the BCTF will cost them childcare fees and lost wages during the strike needs to consider your remarks and the letter here.

    Is the cost of our strike more or less that the cost of private school? If parents are unhappy about the inconvenience of this strike, how happy will they be when they need to take a second job that is as hard to find as the ones they have to pay for private school like the premier's kid's?

    Noises from corporate media suggest Christy Clark may well be removed from office before the next election, as she seems staggeringly out of touch, even for Liberals. But the government wants to reduce public services to a minimal level so that reasonable health and education must be bought at a premium.

    I think most parents want public school to be more than a provincial babysitting service, and the more they find out about Bill 22 the better.

  2. Was thinking the exact same questions today on my long run...Did a bit of research - looks like Hamish goes to West Point Grey Academy - looks like tuition for a year is +$14 000.

    Quote from webpage

    With 350 students in our Senior School, each grade averages about 70 students. This meant that I knew everyone in my grade; by the time we graduated, we were all really close and had established life-long friendships. Sean H. '08

    I wonder how many students per class...can you imagine?

    Any way to find out average class size in school? I've tried to find the info myself!

    1. Do you have sources for your research?

      On the link below, West Point Grey Academy's class sizes are listed as 22. I assume that is an average.

      See page 22:

    2. Here is what I found...

      It talks about the fact that CC is representing Kits... only because her son goes to school there...and in the comments - someone indicated that the only private school in the area was West Point Grey....that's all I could find.....

      Anyone find anything else?

  3. People who are unhappy about finding childcare can just send their children to school where administration can watch the children for free. Problem solved.

  4. Christy Clark doesn't care about your questions, because she is wealthy from the ex-husbands settlement, mostly made by the deal making of selling BC Rail.

  5. Ian's point about "If parents are unhappy about the inconvenience of this strike, how happy will they be when they need to take a second job that is as hard to find as the ones they have to pay for private school like the premier's kid's?" is great one as it would only take an extra $320 per tax payer per month to do it.