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BC teachers leave "Learning Round Table"

At the BCTF annual general meeting in Vancouver, teachers have voted to leave the "Learning Round Table" organized by the provincial government.

In a BCTF news release, President Irene Lanzinger was harshly critical of the Round Table exercise:

"The Learning Round Table has had 12 meetings since Premier Gordon Campbell first announced it, but after three years it has become nothing more than a public relations exercise.

"Teachers have been full participants in the Round Table, but after years of broken promises and government stalling, they are frustrated. There is no concrete plan or funding to reduce class sizes and improve support for children with special needs."

Lanzinger, saying that "Learning conditions in BC are worse today than they were before the 2005 strike," cited the minister of education's own statistics about the number of overcrowded classes and classes with more special-needs students than teachers can effectively deal with:

At the last Round Table meeting in January, the data presented by the Minister of Education show 3,336 class-size violations with more than 30 students for the 2008–09 school year. That is up from 3,179 in 2007–08.

There are also 10,985 class-composition violations this year. That means there are close to 11,000 classes with four or more students with special needs. That number is up from 10,313 in 2007–08. In 2005–06, when BC teachers first went on strike, there were 10,942 violations.

The news release indicated BCTF delegates also voted to explain their withdrawal to trustees, parent committees, and the public, and to go on meeting "bilaterally" with the minister of education about issues of class size and composition.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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