She’s excited about our Supreme Court win. Premier Christy Clark, who as Minister of Education in 2002, introduced legislation that violated teachers’ constitutional rights, and set in motion 14 years of students’ suffering, is excited that the Supreme Court of Canada has said that she was wrong.
What I wish she would feel is remorse.
What I feel is grief.
My elation at hearing the news of the end of a very long struggle for teachers was followed by sadness mixed with anger about all that has been lost over the past 14 years.
Because of the B.C. Liberal government’s legislation in 2002 and again in 2012, thousands of students lost the opportunity to have a school psychologist assess their learning disabilities as well as the opportunity to have their learning needs supported by education assistants.
Thousands more did not have opportunities to learn the skills for a trade in a safe, well-equipped shop class or to learn science in an actual science classroom instead of a mouldy portable.
There were no opportunities for a generation of students to pursue interests in art or music when so many of these classes were cancelled in the pursuit of balanced budgets in school districts.
We will have no idea how many people could have been prevented from joining the 77% of the inmate population with learning disabilities if they had had the support they needed while still children in a public school.
We also will have no idea how many students with mental health issues could have been helped before they became one more statistic.
I won’t speak for the losses experienced by parents. I’m sure they will. What I do know is that when fundraising activities increased dramatically in an attempt to compensate for the drastic funding cuts, parents had to adjust their household budgets. They also found themselves purchasing more fundraiser chocolate, wrapping paper and calendars than they really needed. After more than a decade of family time spent on fundraising, I know they are exhausted but I wonder how they feel about Christy Clark blaming them for the legislation that created the situation?
As for us teachers, we were in the invidious position of having to pay for both sides of the battle to restore our rights. We paid for our defence through our union dues, and we also paid for the government’s attack on those rights through our taxes.
In addition, since 2002, we have lost significant amounts of salary whenever we engaged in actions to alert the public about what the government was doing to our students. During the most bitter of these in 2014, some of us lost our homes as a result of five weeks of holding the line for public education in this province.
So many losses.
None of them exciting.
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