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November 21, 2003

Clark Waffles on School Crisis

BC's confrontational Minister of Education, Christy Clark, is hedging her bets on what to do in response to an 88.9% vote by teachers to pay their $90 college fee to the BCTF's "Democratic College Fund" rather than to the government appointed College. Teachers are upset that the Campbell government has decided to treat them differently than other self governing professions, which include lay representation on their regulatory bodies, but have a majority of members who come from their profession.

Under the School Act a teacher must be in good standing with the College of Teachers in order to teach. A teacher who hasn't paid $90 by November 30th will be suspended by the College, and on December 31st will be designated as not in good standing. In an interview on November 20th with Jennifer Mather on CKNW, Clark said it would take until January or February before she could say what should be done. She suggested that some teachers could break solidarity and write a cheque to the college. The education system could not operate if thousands of teachers were fired. The dispute over the College is an example of how solidarity can limit the power of government.

The government could decide to waive the teacher's fee and write a cheque. That solution could be implemented with a resolution from the government appointed College directors. Given the preference of the government for draconian measures, it could also legislate that school boards must deduct $90 from each teacher's pay whether they like it or not. Either "solution" would further sour relations between the Campbell government and BC's teachers. Clark appears to be hoping that teachers' solidarity will be broken so she can get out of the hot spot she created. It appears that she is prepared to wait until January or February before saying what she will do. Meanwhile, school boards and their administrators have yet another crisis, courtesy of the Campbell government.


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2003 David D. Schreck. All Rights Reserved.