Nothing comes free these days. I suppose in reality nothing ever came without a price of some sort. But last week’s Supreme Court of Canada decision to give B.C. Teachers' bargaining rights over class size and composition will be a huge outlay for the government, and in the end, you and I, the taxpayer.
A report done a while back indicated that if the teachers won their lawsuit, almost 60 teachers would have to be hired in order to provide for the changes that would result. The cost is in the millions of dollars. Not to mention that some long-closed schools would possibly have to reopen. And that’s just in our school district.
I have always been in favour of teachers having the right to bargain class size and composition. It does not seem fair to restrict their ability to negotiate their working conditions. But I am fearful that without some give and take, teachers will force the costs even higher because they may not allow flexibility in their agreement. There are things in the agreement that hamper public education, and give teachers too much power. That’s for another day. Right now, the question is how are we going to deal with the results of the court decision, and how much time do we have to make things happen?
Education, like health care, needs to be revamped, and looked at in a whole new light. The Supreme Court decision is good in some ways, but in the long term, I wonder if it will do more harm than good if all it does is take us backwards instead of leading the way to a new ideal for education, where we accomplish the goals of giving our children a good education, but at a cost we can afford. The Supreme Court of Canada decision gives us no guarantee any of that will happen.