A new political party hopes to focus more attention on public education in advance of this fall’s Vancouver school-board election.
Former Coalition of Progressive Electors trustee Jane Bouey and former COPE candidate and parent activist Gwen Giesbrecht will run under the Public Education Project banner in November.
“We’re both people who have a long history of fighting for public education,” Bouey told the Straight during a union-organized Labour Day picnic at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby. “We don’t back down. We keep doing it inside and outside of elections.”
Bouey, a host of Co-op Radio’s Media Mornings program, said that long-time education activists get frustrated when public schools don’t receive nearly as much attention during municipal election campaigns as the races for mayor and council. Because she and Giesbrecht are not attached to major civic parties, she feels they have more freedom to raise issues that other candidates might shy away from discussing.
The former COPE trustee characterized the teachers’ strike as “a mess” but sees this as “something beyond simply a labour struggle”.
Bouey maintained that the B.C. Liberal government wants to weaken the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. She also said that the government has passed legislation in the past to make it easier to introduce charter schools and a voucher system, both of which would weaken school boards.
Under a voucher system, the government would give money directly to parents, who would decide which school—public or private—would receive provincial education funding for their children.
She drew parallels between a voucher system and the government’s plan to give $40 per day to parents for each child under 13 years old in the public-school system.
“It’s my view that the provincial government has been systematically undermining public education for over a decade,” Bouey said. “What’s the long-term plan? It’s hard to know. Some of the stuff they’ve done comes directly out of papers that the Fraser Institute wrote back in 2000 that called for a voucher system. I think that, in essence, this $40-a-day thing is almost a voucher system itself.”