Quality public education is a fundamental pillar of Canadian society. Public education lifts people from poverty and equalizes opportunities. It helps to reduce crime and promotes bright futures. A well-educated populace allows us to enjoy the way of life we expect in B.C.
Further, public education promotes lifelong understanding and empathy for people of diverse ethnic, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds. What our children learn in school forms the basis for a caring society.
But good public education doesn’t just happen. It takes committed communities and local government. It takes a provincial government willing to provide proper funding. It takes university-level teacher training programs that deliver the highest standard of courses. It takes supported, respected, and competent teachers.
I am concerned and saddened when some parents opt out of the public system and seek out private or independent schooling. When faced with difficulties in public schools, such as the present labour negotiations, some parents look to private education as a short-term solution for their child. This can lead to a two-tiered system and contribute to a class system or a gated community mentality that is seen in many parts of the United States.
I am a product of B.C.’s public education system and my three sons attended Vancouver public schools. My grandchildren will go to public school.
Vancouver public schools are doing a good job but they are under attack, lacking both adequate funding and a respectful relationship with teachers.
Throughout my own education and for my first 10 years as a teacher there was no need for job action in education. Recent trends of confrontational bargaining must stop so children and youth can receive uninterrupted public education. Strong public voices are needed to ensure that public schooling receives the support and status it deserves.