Bill 22 is very, very alarming. It says, “There must not be included in a teachers’ collective agreement any provision...a) establishing or imposing class size limits, requirements respecting average class sizes, or methods for determining class size limits or average class sizes...”
That means teachers will never be able to bargain for the single most important working condition in their workplace, and their students will never benefit from agreed upon and beneficial class sizes.
In 1970 I enrolled a class of 39 students in Grade 6 and 7. It was a large but not unusual number.
The BCTF was just beginning its campaign to educate parents, trustees, and government about the problems with large classroom numbers. The campaign continued with some successes for the next 17 years. Collective begging is what we called it.
Finally, in 1987, teachers’ locals became unions with the right to full collective bargaining. Class size language came into agreements with real and reliable improvements in learning and teaching conditions.
In 1991, under our collective agreement, my Grade 7 class had 26 students, and no class exceeded 30.
In 2002, after I’d retired, the BC Liberal government stripped class size from the now-provincial agreement.
The BCTF challenged the constitutionality of that Act, and finally won in 2011.
Now the Liberals are claiming they bargained in good faith this year and are bringing us Bill 22 to finish what they began 10 years ago!
It was teacher action that brought about decent learning conditions, and teacher agreements ensured they would continue.
Teachers are resisting 1970s class sizes for our children. They need our help.
Peter Thomson, Retired teacher