EDITORIAL: Funding trumps any labour deal

Education was hardly a burning issue in the B.C. provincial election.

Education was hardly a burning issue in the B.C. provincial election, leaving many educators, trustees and administrators – not to mention parents – scratching their heads.

Cash-strapped school districts, including Nanaimo, were expecting to hear something specific about a long-term vision for funding a 21st century education system.

But whatever was in the political kit bags of the two party frontrunners was lost in debates over who would handle the economy better.

Meanwhile, school districts across the province are faced with often difficult decisions to keep spending in line with funding.

Few would argue the education system is awash in cash. Rather, it is merely holding the line while expectations for smaller classes, support for special needs and help for children with learning disabilities and other demands increase.

So where was the talk about building a sustainable funding system for schools? Where was the leadership given last year’s labour unrest? It was drowned out by political recriminations on both sides.

Now Premier Christy Clark is re-floating an earlier trial balloon to seek a 10-year labour agreement with teachers.

While it’s true labour peace would surely benefit the education system, it’s hard to see how making the B.C. Teachers’ Federation eat crow so soon after the election is going to bring this about.

And because the issue hardly came up, it’s hard to argue the 10-year deal is part of Clark’s mandate.

For many people, what’s needed first is a new, more equitable funding formula. Once a long-term vision for funding is revealed, then Clark might be in a better position to work with teachers on the vaunted 10-year labour deal.

But until then, all she’ll accomplish with re-writing the teachers’ labour contract is more instability in schools.

 

Black Press