GUIDELINES NEEDED TO PROTECT PUBLIC INTEREST
Straight Goods News
Delegates at the recent annual general meeeting of the BC Teachers’ Federation have voted to call on the provincial government to establish conflict-of-interest regulations governing school districts dealings with corporations.
Private businesses are seeking to profit from public education, and using increasingly sophisticated and aggressive schemes to market technology, textbooks, learning resources and many other products,” said Susan Lambert, past-president of the BCTF.
“It’s high time we had consistent and clear guidelines to protect the public interest.”
After more than a decade of chronic underfunding, schools, parents and teachers face mounting pressure to raise funds through private means to meet the needs of students across the province. Delegates voted to have the BCTF gather information on the extent of funding coming from corporate sponsorships and donations, Parent Advisory Committee fundraising and teachers’ personal donations.
“We believe it’s vitally important for British Columbians to understand the extent to which parents and teachers are subsidizing the public education system, and how hard individuals are working to bridge the gap between the needs in schools and the funding provided by government,” said Lambert. “Our study will document that.”
Read More: BCTF News release and Straight Goods News
With their extensive Better Schools for BC campaign, the BCTF has placed education front and centre in the 2013 BC election. “BC teachers are worried that, after a decade of underfunding, our students are being short-changed. The latest numbers from Statistics Canada tell a story of the growing gap between education funding in BC and the rest of Canada. Teachers have a plan to build better schools for BC.”
“After a decade of government cuts to education, too many BC students are struggling. We need to change that. This election in May, let’s vote for better schools — with smaller classes, more one-on-one time, and help when students need it.”
BC Civil Liberties Association — The BCCLA is calling on the Prince Rupert School District (No. 052) to reverse its ban on teachers wearing t-shirts displaying section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the provision that protects free speech. The t-shirts display the Shakespeare-inspired question “2(b) or not 2(b)?” on the front, and the text of section 2 of the Charter on the back: 2(a) freedom of religion, 2(b) freedom of expression, 2(c) freedom of peaceful assembly, and 2(d) freedom of association.
The BCCLA argues that the ban on these t-shirts is a violation of the constitutional right to free speech displayed on the t-shirt itself. Freedom of expression guarantees the rights of speakers and listeners alike. In banning these shirts, the School District has violated both the teachers’ and students’ rights to learn, think and talk about their fundamental freedoms.
“The school district’s decision to ban free speech about free speech reminds us of a badly-written comedy sketch. But this isn’t an Air Farce skit, it’s a troubling violation of teachers’ constitutional right to free expression,” said Lindsay Lyster, President of the BCCLA. “The School District has an obligation to respect free speech, and there is no lawful justification for the District to ban these t-shirts.”
As a government body, School District No. 052 is bound by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the guarantee of freedom of expression and freedom of association. Governments can only limit such rights in a narrow range of circumstances, according to legal tests established by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Lyster added that the ban on these t-shirts is contrary to the principle that schools should be places for open discussion and inquiry: “Banning these t-shirts seems to be short-sighted attempt to cut off discussion and thinking about the basic constitutional rights that the t-shirts display. We assume that this ban has provoked a lot of discussion among Prince Rupert students. Unfortunately, the District has provided an example of a government violating the constitutional rights for its students to discuss, rather than the better example of a government respecting those rights.”
See the BCCLA’s Letter to Prince Rupert School District Board
Vancouver Sun, Zoe McKnight, February 4, 2013 — The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association is accusing the Prince Rupert school board of infringing on teachers’ freedom of speech by banning the wearing of t-shirts printed with those exact Charter rights.
Three teachers in School District 52 were told last Monday to remove or cover their black t-shirts emblazoned with wording from Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights, which includes the right to freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.
“The school district’s decision to ban free speech about free speech reminds us of a badly-written comedy sketch. But this isn’t an Air Farce skit — it’s a troubling violation of teachers’ constitutional right to free expression,” BCCLA president Lindsay Lyster said, adding that schools have an obligation to encourage open discussion.
In an open letter to chair Tina Last and other board members, Lyster asks the school district to rescind the ban on the t-shirts, which were part of a protest organized last week by the B.C. teachers’ union to mark the 11th anniversary of legislation stripping teachers’ rights to bargain class size and composition.
The school board said the t-shirts were a form of political messaging, which is against the rules.
Read more: Vancouver Sun
This Sunday (January 27) ICES co-director E. Wayne Ross will be discussing the BC government’s proposed 10 year contract deal with the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation.
Tune into The World Today Weekend with Sean Leslie at 3:30pm PST on CKNW AM 980 radio.
BCTF’s Teacher Newsmagazine just published an essay by UBC graduate student Tobey Steeves that aims to “map the winners and losers within BC’s education policy-making arena.”
Teacher Newsmagazine (May/June 2012)
Mapping desire and power within the field of education policy in BC
By Tobey Steeves
In their overview of qualitative interviewing (QI) as research methodology, Kvale & Brinkmann (2009) insist “…knowledge is power. The social practice of research interviewing may become a form of democratic practice that can be used to help create a free democratic society.” With this generalized goal in mind, I initiated an interview-based research inquiry into education policy in British Columbia. Beginning with the question: What desires are privileged by education policy in BC?, I solicited the participation of a well-established policy maker/ analyst and organized a series of questions that were designed to elicit a rudimentary outline of education policy in BC as a field of power. Phrased more succinctly, I used targeted questions to map the winners and losers within BC’s education policy-making arena. …
Read the full article here.