Schoolyard fight?

Education is expected to be one of the major issues highlighted during Premier Gordon Campbell's televised speech on Wednesday. As a result, there's speculation about whether his administration will soon be in a renewed conflict with the British Columbia Teachers' Federation. If so, newly-appointed Education Minister George Abbott will be on the frontline of that conflict. So we thought it might be an opportune time to ask him how he'll deal with the Campbell administration's conflictual relationship with that union. Here's his response.

5 Comments

Well at least the BCTF can sleep tonight. They almost got the Langley Nuke...

Pretty slim pickins for Gordo these days... which Lieberals are there left with a clean record?

No one in any level of the public education system, including parents, students, administrators, trustees and teachers will be sad to see MacDiarmid go. Full of conflict, rhetoric and ignorance, her incompetence was highlighted in her 'kids can dance and play in the parks' comment last year.

This government is now on its fifth Minister of Education, and there is nothing about Polehack which has indicated that she would be a match for the BCTF. Although left in the political compost pile which is the MCFD, Polehack certainly avoided the governmental Super Nova which is the BCTF. Either way, she's thankfully done soon, and can ride off into the bible belt with her well-earned two-term pension.

While Georgie seems like an affable fella, he, like all Fiberals' days are numbered. As Trooper once famously wrote, "We're here for a good time, not a long time", his few years will likely be remembered for little.

Will Georgie be able to wrest control of public education from the corrosive hands of the BCTF? Very doubtful. He is part of a government that is too weak from self-inflicted injury.

Enough fence-mending to hold a normal conversation with the BCTF is just the start of the credibility challenge facing Mr Abbott.

His predecessor, Margaret MacDiarmid, also managed to seriously alienate parents, trustees, administrators and all the other education partners - even the wider public. A CUPE-commissioned Angus Reid poll last week found 75% of BC residents now believe public education is strengthened when elected school trustees adopt an advocacy approach that challenges the provincial government!

Abbott's first steps should therefore be a few deep breaths & several giant steps backwards - i.e. shelve the major reform package that MacDiarmid developed in secret with Victoria bureaucrats and party hacks and invite all the education partners to sit down together to discuss from scratch what changes are actually needed.

(Hint: No, our kids don't need "21st century" incentives to spend even more time glued to their computers & I-pods!)

There - how's that for a novel and innovative approach!Treat people respectfully, acknowledge that the reason we pay the teachers billions every year is because they're the ones who know how to teach and therefore it's worth at least trying to sit down and listen to each other instead of dictating from on high or dismissing dialogue because you assume there's no chance of any response but intransigence.

It's always worked for me and it works for most other parents when things aren't going right at our kids' school and we sit down respectfully to work out how best to fix the problem.

And Abbott's record suggests that he is certainly smart enough and skilled enough to rise to the challenge --IF he's not hamstrung by a political agenda that demands conflict with bogeymen like the BCTF to provide diversion and excuses to avoid confronting the real and messy challenges that need to be addressed in BC's education system.

I find some of your comments here about Min Polak inappropriate and unwelcome. It's Minister Polak for starters.

I also find the book ban a really bad choice of phrases being pushed by the Gay Lobby the same way lies were told about Obamacare in the States & the Sponsorship Scandal in Ottawa. The books were not included in the taxpayer-funded cirriculum, an appeal was filed to the Supremes and conditionally granted, the school board met those conditions not to fund said books and did a search to find more appropriate ones alongside the plaintiffs. That, my friends, is how peace is forged in a community by a strong leader in Min Polak.

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