Here's one explanation why Premier Christy Clark has refused the BCTF's request for mediation

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      (Editor's note: After this article was posted on, the B.C. government agreed to mediation to try to end the teachers strike.)

      As things stand now, the B.C. government has an incentive to encourage parents to put their kids in private schools.

      That's because group 1 independent schools receive no government capital funding and only 50 percent of the operating funds per student that's granted in the public-school system.

      Group 2 independent schools, which include elite institutions that spend more per capita than the public system, receive 35 percent of the operating funds. Again, there's no capital funding available, freeing the government of any responsibility to build private schools.

      So every time a parent opts to put a child in a private school, the B.C. Liberal government saves money. 

      Therefore, Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender have an incentive to spurn the B.C. Teachers' Federation request for mediation to end the teachers strike.

      That's because the longer this dispute drags on, more parents will examine private-school options.

      The downside is that when kids are enrolled in private schools, it leads to greater segregation between the rich and poor. This undermines equality because wealthy parents put their efforts into improving schools that serve the elites rather than schools that serve everyone.

      That's not good for society as a whole.

      Private schools also cost parents a lot of money. It would be an unnecessary personal expense if there were sufficient collective will, including from the B.C. government, to provide outstanding education in the public system.

      According to a chart on the Federation of Independent School Associations of B.C. website, the province spent nearly $145 million on these schools in 2000–01, which was the final year of the last NDP government.

      By 2011–12, that figure had ballooned to $245.4 million. Over that period, independent-school enrollment increased by 27.8 percent.

      One of those parents with a child in an independent school is the premier.

      A public-school teachers strike won't cause personal discomfort for MLAs like the premier with children in private schools.

      So the strike can be viewed as a positive thing from the government's perspective, particularly if it drives more kids into independent schools.

      There's a way to balance this out, though.

      Someone in the legislature could bring forward a private member's bill making it illegal for any sitting MLA to send their child to a private school.

      That would create a disincentive for provincial cabinet ministers, some of whom will have children, to spurn a request for mediation to end a labour dispute that's seriously inconveniencing parents and students.

      What's wrong with mediation, anyway? Unless, of course, there's money to be saved over the long run by avoiding it, and thereby driving up enrollment in independent schools.

      (If you like this column, you may want to read the 2010 article "War on public school rages" by Donald Gutstein. It provides deeper insights into efforts to privatize education in B.C.)


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      Jean-Michel Oblette

      Jun 20, 2014 at 5:03pm

      When we were picketing this week in front of my school, this ridiculously expensive car slowed down and the driver lowered his window.
      "I'm a private school parent,and my son is in the same class as Hamish Clark," he began. We all expected a complete bashing of the public teachers' strike.
      "I think you guys are not asking for enough," the parent continued. "It is absolutely shameful the way Christy Clark has been treating teachers. You have my support, keep on the figh!"


      Jun 20, 2014 at 5:28pm

      In the future, poor kids will go to private schools as they will be subsidized by foundations and charities that are in business to keep poor people poor and rich people rich. Rich kids will continue to attend elite institutions that seldom have the best education but frequently have the best connections to help elite rich kids keep their elite rich status.

      Middle class kids will attend public schools with no sports teams, no music programs, and no extracurricular activities. You see, if you're middle class, you're too rich to be subsidized and too poor to be elite.


      Jun 20, 2014 at 5:51pm

      The Liberals have been found to be acting against the law of the land by the BCTF and courts twice now and, frankly, going against Cdn values: unconstitutional was the word the judges used. The Liberals don`t care about working class kids and kids that need more time with their teachers. And somehow, teachers in BC are supposed to just cope with chaos. Job looks easy until you walk in a classroom and have to run it. The Liberals think like Americans. They don`t care about public education; they care about short term ways of making or siphoning off money. They aren`t thinking about the quality of life or education in the future. They are thinking five years and I get my pension and can move to some other place in the sun. You and I and our kids will have to live with their decisions. They are above the law and they will be damned to put things back to the preLiberal era in BC schools, pre Liberal era when public education mattered, class sizes were good for kids, when wages kept up with inflation. When there were 197 more schools still open in communities. Regular kids, you know the majority of whom we were, and their educators aren`t important and are seen as people to serve the future upper middle class, foreign business and shareholders and rich. BC can always import its talent if we can`t grow it like we did before the Liberals faulted on their commitment to public education funding.Do you ever wonder where the money for these kids went. A basic ability to read and write, do some basic math will do for these kids. They don`t want the working class to be able to think; goodness, they may oppose oppression. These kids they will just be surfs, anyway. The Liberals know they can`t tell the public that is what they think, because it wouldn`t be `politically correct, now would it.
      I miss the days before the Liberals and feel it for the future of BC which will have much unhappy kids and citizens. They, we, are being sold out `to the highest corporate bidders and our social services and Cdn values of old, like education, are in the dust. This government has become way to arrogant and why wouldn`t they be if they keep being voted in. The rich Liberals with a few years of service in BC will be basking in the sun on their fat pensions. We and our kids will be forgotten; all our resources will have been sold to the highest bidder. Beautiful BC...........


      Jun 20, 2014 at 7:52pm

      Christy Clark has a child in private school. Why?......because she knows the truth about learning conditions in public school. She's directly responsible for it. Ask her - she'll tell you.

      Public school parent

      Jun 20, 2014 at 9:29pm

      I hope you write a second article explaining why the BCTF wants students to move to private schools. I am fortunate to have both options, but chose to keep my kids in the public system because I support public education and I think there is a broader and better mix of students there. However, the private schools have better teachers and they do not strike. So, if I could not stay home on strike days and if I could not teach my kids what the public school teachers do not adequately cover, then I would opt for a private school.
      The question is, why does the BCTF create this situation? By sheltering incompetent teachers and disrupting most school years, they force some families out of the public system.


      Jun 21, 2014 at 12:12am

      Christy Clark and the BC Liberals make me want to abandon this province. I hope all of you people who voted them in the last election are pleased with yourselves and the work they have done to date. Just think we have several more years of thinly veiled tax grabs coupled with the continued erosion of public services. A pox on you Christy and the BC Liberals.


      Jun 21, 2014 at 12:38am

      BCTF and the School Boards are wasted of government funding. I support the government to shut down the union and downsize the School Boards. So what with the private school, I believe parents will be more happy to receive the incentives to put their kids to private school than giving teachers a raise for doing such an unethical job. The government saved money is also better than fatten teacher's greedy pocket. If teachers don't like their compensation, quit, so those on call teachers can take over your job and make a better living.

      On the other hand

      Jun 21, 2014 at 1:11am

      Christy Clarke proves you can be successful without a great education.


      Jun 21, 2014 at 1:24am

      As a student that is currently enrolled in the public school system, I have to say that I am truly disappointed in the way both sides are handelling this issue. Both the government and the BCTF are at fault for this situation.

      The government has already been ruled unconstitutional TWICE regarding ripping up the teachers's contracts and limiting the negotiation for class size and composition in the past. Moreover, BC do have a higher class sizes than most provinces yet teachers get paid less than most provinces? Doesn't really make sense to me.

      HOWEVER, on the other side is the hypocritical BCTF. (don't get me wrong, I like most of my teachers butthe unions actions are quite hypocritical.) The BCTF is unreasonable in asking for a 8% increase in base salary, $5000 signing bonus AND a $225 million educational fund which would mean a total salary increase of 14.5%. WHERE IS THIS MONEY GOING TO COME FROM? The BCTF has openly critisized many economic developments such as the Northern Gateway Pipeline and the Prosperity Mine project. These type of projects WILL generate income and tax money for BC and then maybe the government can have money to put back i to education. So stop askig the governemt for ridiculous demands when the union itself OPPOSES to economic developmet in BC.

      The way i see it, the BCTF will not win this fight. The government will simply put back the money they have save from the strike into the contract to make the public think they are the "reasonable" side. What most people don't realize is that THE STUDENTS are also affected by all these actions. So please, adults, come to a compromise and set our education for the future in the right direction.


      Jun 21, 2014 at 5:34am

      this article is a bunch of baloney