VICTORIA—In response to the introduction of Bill 36 by the BC Liberal government, delegates at CUPE BC’s 49th Annual Convention in Victoria passed an emergency resolution opposing the elimination of the standard school year. Delegates expressed concern that the proposed changes are more about the bottom line and budgets than quality education.
CUPE members, including BC’s education assistants, are worried that allowing school districts to unilaterally alter the school calendar will negatively impact vulnerable students, especially those with special needs who rely on stability and access to consistent individualized support.
The resolution passed by delegates reads:
CUPE BC WILL work with teachers, parents, trustees and other education partners to:
- Get the Ministry of Education to withdraw provisions of Bill 36 – School Amendment Act – 2012 that eliminate the standard school year;
- Publicize the fact that eliminating the standard school calendar is not innovation aimed at improving K-12 public education, and that cost cutting is the major driving force behind changes to calendars and timetables; and
- Stand up for the rights of vulnerable students and their families who are more likely to be adversely affected when calendar and timetable changes are implemented.
- The bill’s provision will increase efforts by board employers to experiment with school timetables and calendars;
- Further changes to calendars and timetables will victimize vulnerable students who have weaker school attachment;
- These changes will also place added burdens on families already having problems getting adequate and affordable childcare; and
- These changes will also increase pressure on school support staff by having it bear a disproportionate burden of the budget cuts that the Bill will trigger.
CUPE's K-12 sector in BC includes 26,000 school support staff in most of the province's 60 school districts. Members work in every support role within the public school system from helping children arrive at school (bus drivers and crossing guards) to supporting students in the system (noon-hour supervisors, education assistants, cultural workers) through the clerical functions (such as payroll, bookkeeping, record keeping, accounting, secretarial in schools, resource centres and district offices).