BCCPAC Press Conference

BCCPAC Press Conference
by Judith Ince

BCCPAC’s president, Kim Howland told a press conference today that, “BCCPAC members strongly agree that there was no crisis in public education until teachers went on strike. ” She said that because BC’s students continue to score highly on international tests, get into prestigious universities and graduate in increasing numbers, there is clearly no other crisis.

Moreover, she said, teachers are striking illegally and defying court orders; they should get back to work post-haste.The government’s responsiblity is to provide adequate resources for funding.

She reiterated BCCPAC’s opposition to class sizes being a part of the teachers’ contract.

A parent from Coquitlam said there has been violence against a teacher who does not support the strike; when pressed, however, he could give no details.

A student said because of the strike, she is missing her chance to apply to Harvard, Acadia, Oxford and Cambridge because she doesn’t have marks to submit.

Reporters asked the group some tough questions. Mike Bothwell (Citytv) said that although BCCPAC says it’s not choosing sides in this fight, Howland’s press release (not distributed to parents) echoed all the government’s main
points. Howland denied this.

Another reporter asked what BCCPAC has been doing for the past three years about growing class sizes and underfunding . Howland said the group has been “talking” about it to the government. I think it was this same reporter who suggested that her group seems to have been unsuccessful in persuading the government to give enough resources for, say, smaller classes. Howland said there is “no data” on the effects of underfunding.

Bothwell asked whether BCCPAC has been polling parents to find out their views. Howland said no, but she’s in “constant communication” with parents.

Howland said 40% of BCCPAC’s budget comes from the provincial government, but the rest rest comes from memberships.

As most of you can tell, there were some unfortunate errors and omissions in today’s press conference. The number of resolutions passed at BCCPAC AGMs urging the government to adequately fund education suggests that parents perceive a worsening financial crisis in education. BCCPAC laments the lack of “hard data” showing the effects of underfunding, but had it acted on a resolution passed in 2003 to track deficits in resources, it would now have two years of data on hand.

As to the funding of BCCPAC, the last Annual Report posted on its website says that 8%–not 60%–comes from membership fees. The Ministry of Education provides the larges chunk of funding (63%) as core and project-based funding. See Annual Report 2004 for details.

As a matter of interest, BCCPAC’s annual budget has jumped from $665,285 in
2001 2001 Annual Report to $853,361 in 2004, an increase of 28%.

6 thoughts on “BCCPAC Press Conference

  1. Letter from PAC Chair who takes issue with BCCPAC Press Release.
    Ms. Howland,
    I am a parent of a grade 2 child in Vancouver. I am also a Co-Chair for our school’s PAC. I have been active in the PAC for the previous two years as well. The first year I was a DPAC rep. and last year I Co-Chaired our school PAC. I mention this so you are aware that I have had a fair amount of contact with the parents in our elementary school of over 600 students. We were very active in protesting the Government cuts and changes two years ago which included a petition with over half the parents signing in protest of said cuts. A clear indication of discontent with the government’s handling of funding for schools.

    I am astounded that you could make a unilateral statement that the “members of the BCCPAC strongly agree there was no crisis with our
    public education system before October 7th”. To make such a statement indicates that you have heard the voices of all members of BCCPAC and
    are speaking on their behalf. You have not heard mine and you do not speak for me. In fact the emails we exchange with other Vancouver
    schools PAC’s clearly indicate to me you do not speak for many of us. The conversations I am having with parents in grocery stores and on the
    street indicate you do not speak for many of us. The comments I hear made by parents and students on a number of the CBC radio shows I have
    been listening to indicate you do not speak for many of us. You abuse your position when you do not ensure before you make such a statement
    that you have requested input from the various PAC’s so that you are in fact presenting their opinions. I believe parents want an end to the
    dispute but the statement you made does not reflect any of the complexities of the issue. I am outraged by your comment and I urge you to reflect on the responsibility of your position and be sure in the future to represent
    all of BCCPAC members with more credibility.

    Most sincerely,
    Julia Done – Co-Chair – Laura Secord PAC

  2. It seems that Ms. Howland thinks that there are no parents in unions. There are 200,000 union members supporting the teachers. I imagine that a large proportion are also parents. From observing in my district I can confidently say that almost all public sector union members support the teachers. We had the shutdown in Nelson today. Not only did the union members not cross the picket line but hoards of them showed up at Strike headquarters to ask where they could picket while the teachers picketed the
    BCGEU sites. They all went out to picket at schools. They weren’t satisfied just to go home. They were adamant that they wanted to help. In
    addition, a number of unions (Steelworkers, Pulp and Paper workers, IWA) phoned in to ask that their specific sites be picketed so they could stay off the job to show support. These were sites not originally planned for picketing, i.e Dam sites, Generating plants, a mill, road construction, etc.

    Most of these people are parents.

    Kathy

  3. I am very surprised to hear that the BCCPAC is not supportive of the teachers of this province. Our premier and ministers do not seem to respond to the problems in our education system. They choose to turn a blind eye. Premier Campbell has acknowledged that there is a problem with large class sizes. However, he is very vague about what he is going to do about the problem. He is not willing to make any promises because he has no intention of carrying them out. This government needs to know that people will only take so much abuse and disrespect. I only wish that the BCCPAC could look at the big picture and not just last few days.

  4. Attention: Kim Howland, President

    Dear Kim,

    As a supporter of BCCPAC, former District Associate and a volunteer on an “Internal Committee” I am writing to express my strong disappointment on the stance BCCPAC has chosen to take.

    “BCCPAC’s members strongly agree that until October 7th, there was no crisis in our public education system.” – I’ve got to disagree here. Just looking at BCCPACs’ member resolutions since 1992 I can find at least 11 resolutions listed under “Support Services for Students” that clearly point to a growing problem. There are a number of resolutions that support capping class sizes in primary classes and one requesting the elimination of class size capping for intermediate and secondary student. So parents have concerns about class sizes. Look at the Funding related resolutions, 5 last year alone.

    “To parents, our children not being in their classrooms is a crisis.” . – This is darned inconvenient to parents. It is devastating to students. Is it a crisis? Perhaps, in the sense that we have now hopefully reached the critical moment and hopefully all parties will find their way to their senses. (Parents included!)

    “To parents, teachers participating in illegal job action is a crisis. To parents, teachers defying court orders is a crisis” – I personally don’t agree. Obviously lots of parents have other opinions. That’s what makes this country great. In my opinion this government has once again violated workers’ human rights by contravening international labour standards as set out by the United Nations. Common sense tells me that leaving teachers without a contract, stripping them of rights, stripping collective agreements and then enacting legislation to force an agreement upon them leaves them with few options. Stand up to a bully or be beaten down, what a choice! Follow “Natural Law” hundreds of years old or “Legislated Law” less than a month old. It is my opinion arguments for both on moral and ethical grounds can be made. This is hardly a clear situation.

    “Students need to be back in their classrooms, now.” – That sure would be nice.

    “Parents recognize that all parties are doing what they believe is best for children and our province.” – If students were the priority the government would be bargaining not posturing and hiding behind courts. I doubt very much the current government and those in the last 10 to 15 years have put students first. It certainly doesn’t appear that way when you look at their track records.

    I obviously wasn’t at your press conference but I have read a couple of articles, listened to a couple of radio reports, watched a newscast and read a couple of articles. I’m sure that you didn’t mean to mislead but I need to point out a couple of issues that apparently weren’t exactly clear in your message.

    1 – BCCPAC represents the parents of 971 “Voting Member PAC’s” (according to my notes from the last AGM). There are 1654 publicly funded schools in BC. That means you actually represent 58.7% of possible PACs. That’s being generous as a couple of DPACs pay the membership fees on behalf of their District PACs and I believe at least one DPAC doesn’t ask if the individual PAC even wants that representation! At the last AGM only 43% of eligible PAC’s chose to vote on resolutions. That means only 25% of BC Schools voted on the resolutions from which the “Statement of Policy” is taken. This statement is supposed to represent the “The collective voice of parents for the best possible public education of all children in BC”.

    In actual fact very few resolutions are passed unanimously so in reality most resolutions are representative of less than 25% of PACs. I know in my District alone many parents don’t even know what BCCPAC is or does so they are very unlikely to have contacted BCCPAC with an opinion. Even individual PACs often have difficulty coming to consensus and often parents at the school do not participate in or contribute to PAC. Their voices are not represented by anyone. Perhaps BCCPAC is irrelevant expect for Advocacy program..

    The 2003/04 Summary of Key Information from the Ministry of Education indicates that there were 618,675 students in public schools that year. I keep hearing that the number of students is declining so for the sake of argument let’s say there are 600,000 students in BC public schools. Just to be really conservative, let’s say all of them are in single parent families with 3 school age children per family. That would mean that 200,000 concerned parents. What percentage of that actually contacted BCCPAC? What would constitute a good base from which to decide that parents want?

    2 – I was surprised at the percentage you gave for what funding was received from the Provincial government. I went back to the financial statements from our last AGM. If you remove the funding for the Advocacy Project the actual funding is 48% from the Province. If you leave the Advocacy Project funding in (which I believe you should do) it comes to 63%.

    I believe you made an honest attempt to implore parties back to the bargaining table and for that I thank you. I realize that it is difficult to try to represent such a hugely diverse group as parents, particularly when many parents do not participate. There is a crisis in education, it is time to work together.

    Sincerely,

    Olwen Walker

  5. BCCPAC and Ms. Howland,

    Re: BCCPAC Press Release – October 19

    I was elected PAC Co-Chair for Tyee Elementary School for 2004 to 2005. I do not in any way feel that my position is to represent the opinions of the parent body unless I have clear and documented consent from each and every PAC member.

    How is it that BCCPAC (also an elected body) has such disregard for the position you hold? Your press release (Oct. 19) certainly does not represent my views nor the views of many, many parents who are clearly in support of the teachers.

    You have undermined your validity and abused the voice of parents all throughout British Columbia.

    Regards,

    Barbara McGeough
    Tyee Elementary Co-Chair

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