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BC Teachers' Federation holds protest on Vancouver streets

The British Columbia Teachers' Federation (BCTF) took to Vancouver streets in protest today because it feels the province has neglected public education.

Issues such as over-crowded classrooms and limited government funding need to be addressed in order for teachers to do their jobs properly, according to a pamphlet issued by the BCTF.

“How are students going to learn if the government doesn’t?" said David Komljenovic, president of the Kamloops Thompson teachers' association. "We want them to fund education appropriately.”

Komljenovic feels that the province needs to start following its own guidelines and not ignore 2006 legislation it put into place.

The revised School Act sets limits of 30 students to a classroom and no more than three special needs students to a teacher. This legislation has not been respected and teachers and students have suffered, BCTF president Irene Lenzinger said.

“We have 11,000 classes with four or more students with special needs and we have 3300 classes over 30," she said. "[The government] has never met its own legislation."

When asked what the government could do to improve education in B.C., Lanzinger said the School Act needs to be re-written to guarantee support for children with learning disabilities.

When asked if communication between the government and the BCTF is a problem, Lanzinger explained, “This government is not committed to public education, I don’t think it’s a communication problem. I think it’s a difference of ideology -- we believe in public education and they don’t.”

She continued, “Over spending on the convention centre, the Olympics and mega projects, those are the priorities of this government, not public education.”

B.C. Minister of Education Shirley Bond said she was disappointed by today's protest, given that the province has some of the most open and transparent class size reports in the country.

"These issues are very complex they do not just get fixed over night," she said. "Do I think there is work to do, especially on the composition side? I absolutely do.”

According to Bond, the number of schools that have over 30 students has decreased by 64 per cent since 2005.

Roughly 700 members of the BCTF are involved in the protest.

Morgan J. Modjeski is a reporter for The Hook.

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