Provincial election hot-seat: part five

Powell River-Sunshine Coast candidates suggest education improvements

Leading up to the May 9 provincial election, Powell River Peak has been asking candidates in the Powell River-Sunshine Coast riding a series of questions about issues that matter in this area. Improvements to transportation, resource development and health care have been explored, now we move on to education.

What areas of education are in most need of improvement, and what would you do to address them?

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Reuben Richards, BC Cascadia Party

The area that needs to be improved mostly is the overall quality and professional conduct of our teachers and principals. These people are responsible for transitioning our children into the working world. It is their job to build their self-esteem and competencies and give credit when credit is due.

Too often the misconduct of teachers and principals is swept under the rug and it’s the children who suffer.

My daughter is a honour-roll student at Brooks Secondary School and on her last report card she came home with straight-As. Everyone comes to class with a different skill set; that’s what makes us unique.

To make a long story short, a teacher called her pathetic when she let a goal in while playing soccer. I reported it to the principal, but no disciplinary action was taken.

This kind of locker-room mentality is detrimental to our children’s well-being. I guess being a good athlete doesn’t necessarily mean good people skills.

I have heard complaints about staff at Brooks, but I never realized how incompetent they were until my daughter was treated like this. By the same token, I am sure there a few teachers out there who care and are not just collecting a paycheque.

We need teachers with passion and patience who can deal properly with children and their diverse abilities, teachers who can build on their strengths and not chastise them for what they see to be weaknesses.

 

Kim Darwin, BC Green Party

First of all, education should be a non-partisan issue. Everyone loses when public education in BC is caught in partisanism.

Public education represents one of the most important investments government can make for the future prosperity of our province. Funding for BC's education system since 2001 has been punished by a death of a thousand cuts.

BC Greens would increase funding to revive education. Three decades of bitter battles between teachers and the BC government have drained human and monetary resources and sapped precious energy from educators and learners.

Government is entrusted to support education. Trust and respect must be in place for a successful government/education partnership. We need a fresh approach for healing the process and creating a respectful dialogue for productive solutions.

A BC Green government will bargain in good faith to re-establish a productive working partnership between educators and government. A Green government will endeavour to promote a students-first approach. Also, seismic upgrades to our schools are mandatory. We live in an earthquake-vulnerable area.

BC has one of the highest child poverty rates in Canada. Hungry brains do not learn effectively. BC must establish an effective poverty-reduction plan. BC Greens would address unacceptable levels of poverty and inequality in our province through a variety of measures, including a basic-income pilot project.

Public education is absolutely critical in teaching the next generation of British Columbians to think critically, contribute responsibly and go forward as employers, employees, leaders and creators of tomorrow.

 

Nicholas Simons, BC New Democratic Party

Under our current government, we’ve gone from the second-best-funded kindergarten to grade 12 education system in the country to the second worst. There’s not much further we can fall. Instead of investing in our kids, this government has been using the money to cut taxes for the people at the top.

After a decade and a half of closing schools, delayed seismic upgrades and denying extra help to kids who need it, the government boasts about how they’re putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the school system. But don’t let them fool you: they are not doing that willingly, or because it’s smart policy for BC. They’ve been ordered to do it by the Supreme Court of Canada because they were supposed to have been funding schools all along, but chose not to.

We have an entire generation of students who have grown up in underfunded schools with classes that are too big and teachers who don’t receive the support they need to help students one on one, and in schools unable to offer programs we should expect.

People in Powell River-Sunshine Coast are concerned about education and the role it plays in creating a healthy society. Working together, we can fix this and give our kids every opportunity to grow and succeed.

We need a government that will go to bat for students by making sure they have teachers, up-to-date curriculums and resources they need.

 

Mathew Wilson, BC Liberal Party

The 2017/18 record investment of $5.9 billion in public education has specific investments for Powell River: $2.1 million for approximately 20 additional teachers, $260,000 to support Texada’s school and $100,000 for youth trades programs. School District 47 is known for its leadership and excellence in program delivery and educational outcomes. I will work with teachers, trustees, parents and students to secure funding to meet the growing needs of our community.

Both of my parents were teachers and I support BC educators. As a parent of two girls in public school, I have a personal interest in ensuring schools prepare our children for the opportunities and challenges they will face in life. I am proud that BC’s kindergarten to grade 12 students are some of the highest achievers in the world. Programme for International Student Assessment ranked grade 10 students first in the world for reading, second in science and sixth in math.

Students’ needs come first. A stable learning environment is critical and Powell River’s model of teachers, school district and parents working together builds on successfully negotiated deals in 2014 and 2017. The 2014 agreement was the first negotiated agreement since province-wide bargaining was implemented in 1992.

I will work with the school district to ensure there is support to continue its innovative and excellent work, and I will advocate for our share of the $2 million our Liberal government has invested in recruitment for rural schools.

 

Next week’s question: What would you do to address the lack of affordable housing in Powell River?

Copyright © 2017 Powell River Peak

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