Michelle Mungall

COLUMN: Bill 11 attacks BC education

We all know how important education is to any person’s success in life. It’s equally imperative to the wellbeing of our communities.

We all know how important education is to any person’s success in life. It’s equally imperative to the wellbeing of our communities and entire society.

In Canada, we are fortunate to have developed a robust public education system available to every child and rooted in democratic governance. That said, we must do all that we can to protect and build upon our education system with the constant goal of providing each child with the tools to meet their full potential. Bill 11 currently being debated in your legislature fails to do this.

Both the Kootenay Lake district parents advisory council and the Kootenay Lake school district wrote the minister of education and me to voice their concerns with this bill. I brought those concerns to the legislature floor, and joined theirs, teachers and others’ call for the government to withdraw this terrible piece of legislation.

This bill centralizes control of our public education system further into the hands of the minister of education in three ways. First, it erodes your elected school boards’ ability to manage schools, lands, services.

The minister would be allowed to direct your locally elected boards to sell lands. At the same time, the Liberals have cut the education budget by $29 million this year and $25 million next year and could force boards to adopt a shared service program to realize this budget cut.

While this may not sound bad, let’s consider that the savings do not go back into the classroom. They are cut from education altogether. Additionally, the last time the Liberals forced a shared service onto school districts, the $80 million computer system was scrapped because it was such a failure. The BC Liberal government simply does not have a trustworthy track record when it comes to inserting itself into the day-to-day operations of our school districts.

Another way Bill 11 gives too much authority to the minister of education is what it does, or doesn’t do, with student information. Essentially, we find less protection of student information and too many vague parameters that leave parents with questions like “who will have access to our kids’ records? Will this information be shared between ministries? And what happens if my child’s private information is wrongfully disclosed?” There are no answers to these questions, and the Liberals’ “trust us” response is cold comfort when they are continually chastised for not being able to protect the information of children in foster care.

The third major aspect of this bill continues Premier Christy Clark’s long held disdain for public educators. Every profession regulates their professional development standards and needs, and government has supported that. This is no longer the case for teachers.

No longer will school boards and teachers work together to identify local needs for professional development. Rather, the minister will decide based on a cookie-cutter that he crafts in his office. The result, Kootenay teachers may not get the training they need to support Kootenay kids because the minister in Victoria prioritizes Vancouver’s needs for the province.

Teachers, parents, nor school trustees were consulted prior to developing this bill. Ignoring the very people most impacted by legislation is a sure fire way to make bad laws. Our kids deserve better. We all deserve better.

Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall writes here once a month.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Nelson climate strike packs downtown to demand action

An inter-generational crowd staged a ‘die-in’ as part of the global strike Friday

Nelson’s Cedar Grove Estates affordable housing site to receive $3.2 million in renos

The project was made public during the Nelson CARES annual general meeting

Kootenay Lake ferry to shut down Saturday afternoon

Service to resume Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m.

Mystery illness killing Kootenay bees

Samples being sent to laboratories for analysis

Woman stabbed in downtown Nelson

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

U.S.’s largest retailer points to ‘growing’ complications in federal, state and local regulations

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Crown alleges resentment of ex-wife drove Oak Bay father to kill his daughters

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

Trudeau seeks meeting with Singh to apologize for blackface, brownface photos

‘I will be apologizing to him personally as a racialized Canadian,’ Trudeau said Friday

Charges stayed against Alberta RCMP officer in alleged off-duty Whistler assault

Const. Vernon Hagen instead completed an alternative measures program

Most Read