Shirley Bond Speaks to BCCPAC Conference, May 5, 2006

Shirley Bond, BC’s Minister of Education, spoke to an attentive and, for the most part, appreciative audience at the BCCPAC’s annual general meeting Friday, May 5, 2006). Bond 001.jpg

The carefully phrased talk addressed the concerns and criticism that have emerged around Bill 33. Noting that while some are pushing to have even more restrictions the Minister herself is trying to find “a balanced approach.”

“I know that some of you here are critical [of Bill 33]” said Bond. But, be advised that one partner group and their friends (who jump on the bandwagon uncritically) want “even more restrictive limits placed on class size and class composition.”

Touching on the importance of parents in the governance of public education Minister Bond also alluded to a climate of “fear and intimidation” that allegedly keeps many parents, teachers, and other community members silent. At one point the minister turned to Kim Howland, president of the BCCPAC and commented upon the courage that Kim and other parent reps have shown in the face of antagonism.

Responding to a question from the floor asking the minister’s advice on getting rid of ‘incompetent’ teachers the minister replied:

“Don’t be intimidated we are listening. . . . Be true and courageous.”

Hear the complete presentation, including questions and answers (MP3 format). The presentation plus Q&A is about 55 minutes in length.

Bill 33 [Education (Learning Enhancement) Statute Amendment] Passes 2nd Reading on May 4th, 2006

The class size and class composition legislation passed 2nd reading yesterday afternoon (May 4th, 2006). Rising to close debate on 2nd reading Minister Bond made the following remarks:

” I do appreciate many of the comments that were made by the members opposite, because if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that education is important on both sides of this House. What the debate often centres around is actually how we get to the outcomes. None of us want anything different than the absolute best for the students of British Columbia.

However, I do want to say, and I want to make one thing perfectly clear: this government has always believed that class size is important. We believed it was so important, we enshrined it in legislation and took it out of contract negotiations, where often students became pawns at that table. We said: “It’s so important, we’re going to make it law in British Columbia, and we know that’s important.”

As we move forward, the debate about class size and composition doesn’t end with Bill 33. In fact, Bill 33 brings a clause that says we will be required to review these amendments and other issues. The issues are not simple. It’s been interesting, as I’ve listened to speaker after speaker bring the same issues to the floor of this House, and remarkably, they’re very similar to one of the other voices that we hear in this debate regularly.

I would urge the members opposite to go back to the Roundtable minutes, to go back to the speakers that spoke on behalf of education across the sector. There wasn’t unanimous agreement about class sizes. In fact, the grade eight-to-12 classes actually brought much debate and discussion.

It’s not one voice we need to listen to. It’s all of the people who are important in public education. That includes parents. It includes those people who are involved in meaningful discussion. This bill tries to bring to the floor of this House a balanced and reasonable approach based on all the voices we’ve heard at the provincial Learning Roundtable and as I’ve travelled across this province.

I move second reading of this bill.”

The full copy of the 2nd reading debate can be downloaded here as a pdf file. Please note this is a copy of the draft Hansard reccord for May 4, 2006.