Anyone who has been following the politics around BC public education and the upcoming civic elections on November 15th knows how important it is to pay close attention to what is being said (or not said) and to exercise your right to vote.
This year more than ever people are paying attention to local politics but I’m afraid that it’s not enough. There are unprecedented numbers of candidates vying for positions of local government including mayoral, parks board and school districts where you live. We could see a lot of change happening for the good but it’s up to us as voters to see to it that good people with agendas other than the status quo are elected.
So please find out where you can vote and take a friend or family member who is also eligible to vote to the polling station with you.
The Power of Social Media
If you knew me before you’d know I stayed far away from politics until the Spring of this year. For the most part I was ignorant to what was going on despite my partner’s insistence (he’s a public school teacher) that I pay attention. It was only when the crisis in BC public education reached critical mass resulting in the lock out and teacher’s strike that would last many weeks that I got involved. I realized that I couldn’t keep my head stuck in the sand any longer. I believe in democracy and the constitution, I just didn’t realize that by doing nothing I was risking everything. It was time to find a way to make a difference.
I started following the conversation around education on Twitter using the hashtag #bced. I took a petition, 6,600 signatures (now 8,800) strong to Victoria that demonstrated a huge amount of support from parents (and grandparents) for BC Teachers. And this space was used for those who wanted to share their stories.
This little blog soon became a place for teachers, parents and concerned citizens to share their personal stories anonymously or otherwise. I collaborated on a post that contained a long list of class size and composition data that went viral and published a couple posts that outlined the harsh reality of deep budget cuts in school districts that couldn’t afford to heat their buildings or buy toilet paper.
I realized how powerful this collective effort to fight for our teachers was and that not only was it about supporting our teachers but defending our right to democracy in this province and in this country.
Not only did teachers, parents and students rise up to the challenge to gather support and to open the eyes of the public but that power extended further than anyone could anticipate. It was amazing to be part of a group of like-minded people who believed they could make a difference.
Never before had the topic of the lack of public education funding in BC and the politics around it been so profoundly impacted by media. I am proud to say that this blog and my efforts made a difference. And that the Liberals are still reeling from the mess they created is also a good thing.
Unfortunately we still have a lot of work to do as our public education system is far from fixed. It is still broken mainly because our Charter of Rights and Freedoms was violated when the Liberals ripped up the Teacher’s contract in 2002.
But what you may have forgotten is the connection between this and Remembrance Day. It is an important but before I get into that I want to share a short insight into how our education system is still failing our kids.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by an Education Assistant from Surrey. She was becoming increasingly worried and frustrated that her workload and the support for students continues to be stretched, even though ‘there is more money in education than ever’ (I’m paraphrasing something Premier Clark has repeated over and over).
Here’s what this EA wrote.
I thought I’d share with you since you were so active during the teacher’s strike I’m an EA the position I now have only had 10 kids with it last year. This year I have 25 students! 13 classes that I rotate between. I have 19 students in 1 days rotation. What does this mean? Some kids only get 15 minutes of support!
Holy crap. That’s a lot. I can put a post together and include this. If you want to write something about it I would be happy to publish it as well. Are you in the North Van SD (school district)?
EAI work for Surrey, the biggest growing district… you think they would give us hours and funding.
We chatted a bit but we lost touch until she sent me an update two weeks later…
EAOkay so the fun continues I will be up to 26 students next week. I have more students I’m trying to help that most primary teachers, even some intermediate teachers. The worst is we can’t tell parents how their kids hours are being divided. Your kid might be getting full-time but their hours are being piggy backed into other kids so really your kids is only getting half the coverage they should.*end rant* can you tell I am grumpy? Trying to find a way to support my students and their needs but this is hard. I’m almost at a loss for words for what to say.I’ll help any way I can. May have to be anonymous for fear of my job.
The Crisis in #BCED is far from over
If you are a parent or a teacher or a student, please continue in your fight to stop propping up the system by funding it yourself. Help your colleagues and friends by talking about what is really going on in the classroom. Don’t put another nickel of your hard-earned money into a system that is relying on you to do exactly that.
And if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for those whose lives were lost.
Remembrance Day: Remember those whose lives were lost
Remembrance Day is a day to reflect on what our forefathers and mothers gave up to secure democracy and freedom for our country. It is a day of mourning and deep sadness for those who lost loved ones in the wars. This year is of particular importance as we remember the tragedy of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, an honour guard who lost his life in Ottawa last month.
We can honour those whose lives were lost by being proactive in our communities today. I believe our veterans would be proud to know that we are exercising our right to vote in support of democracy.
Vote in the BC Civic Election on Saturday November 15th
I was not compensated for this post and all the opinions are my own. Please Vote on November 15th 2014!