PG School Board Chair Both ‘Excited’ and ‘Frustrated’ by Court Ruling
Prince George, B.C. – Excited and frustrated.
The reaction of Prince George School Board chair Tony Cable to last Thursday’s Supreme Court victory for the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF).
The court ruled the union be allowed to negotiate class size and composition during contract talks. The decision ended a 15-year court battle between the provincial government and the BCTF.
Following the ruling B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong said discussions into how class size and composition can be improved would “start without delay.”
“Excited, because it’s been a long time coming and hopefully it’ll mean some really good things for parents and kids and special needs students,” says Cable.
“But on the other hand, frustration, because this has been dragging on for over 15 years. They started the process many years ago and they’ve used every possible delaying tactic and court case to drag this on.”
He says teachers in the Prince George School District have managed to cope under trying conditions the past decade and a half noting a lot of the challenges revolve around the need for more special needs teachers. Cable is hopeful that will now change.
“If the government goes along with the spirit of this court ruling, and they do bring things back to where they were in 2002 – then hopefully we will have some more teachers, librarians, counsellors and English language specialist teachers.”
Though the district was unable to provide an exact figure, he says there is “a pretty high number” of special needs kids in each class which only makes things more difficult for educators.
“It just adds a whole new dimension to your class. And when you talk about special needs, it’s not only students with learning problems, it’s autistic students, it’s blind students, it’s students in wheel chairs,” says Cable.
“And then you have a whole category of students that have discipline problems like ADHD. Those are the students that really cause the frustrations for teachers because they’re trying to teach and they have to have special programs for all students and then they have to deal with the discipline of these students.”