Monday, August 20, 2012

22 marathons against Bill 22

As the dog days of summer slowly come to an end, one BC teacher is putting is feet where his heart is. 

Ian Cunliffe, a BC public school teacher, is running 22 marathons - one per day - to protest against Bill 22.  He will cross the span of British Columbia in a run of over 1000km, seeking to raise awareness about public education. He has called on elected officials in each riding he runs through to discuss the problems associated with ten years of cuts to education funding and the devastating impact Bill 22 will have on class size and composition. He is calling on government to restore adequate funding.

Ian is currently in the summer heat of Osoyoos. You can see his road map and follow his progress at his Facebook page:

Ian has been a vocal advocate all year during the dispute with the BC government. He explains his concerns with Bill 22 on his website 1000 voices, 1 message, where he presents a Q & A on the issues. Here is a short exerpt:

Q: How does Bill 22 affect student learning?

A: Under Bill 22 critical language regarding class size restrictions has been removed. Government now has the power to place any number of students in many classroom settings. Class size matters. As classrooms grow larger a teacher’s ability to help all students is greatly reduced. Many students who need help simply get lost in the shuffle. Larger class sizes also force teachers to adopt teaching strategies that are proven to be far less effective, simply because managing a classroom of 35 students is incredibly difficult.

Q: What about special needs students?

A: Traditionally there has been clear language set out about how many special needs students may be placed in a classroom and what funding and resources will be provided to assist. Much of this language has been removed. There are now no firm limits of how many special needs students can be placed in one classroom, and even minimum levels of guaranteed support or funding for these students are now things of the past.

In many instances it will now be possible for school districts to create classrooms of any size with no limit to how many special needs students can be assigned to the class, all without any guaranteed minimum funding.

Q: Didn’t the BC Supreme Court tell government that tearing up teacher contracts was illegal and that they had to work with teachers to rectify the damages that occurred as a result?

A: Yes. For over half a decade BC teachers fought a court battle with the BC Liberal Government and last year’s court ruling came out clearly in favor of students and teachers. Bill 22 is a cynical attempt by the provincial government to circumvent clear directions by the BC Supreme Court. 


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