REALITY CHECK: Ruling Shows Premier Clark Misled Parents, Hurt Public Education

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A B.C. Supreme Court ruling released on Wednesday shows that Premier Christy Clark was more focused on slashing money from the public education system than protecting students and parents when her government brought in unconstitutional legislation on classroom composition and size during her tenure as a B.C. Liberal education minister.

The ruling is further evidence that Ms. Clark’s ‘families first’ promises aren’t supported by her record in government. And despite her claims of change, she’s more of the same.

“It is… clear from the government's own evidence that a key reason that school administrators and the government did not like to have class size and composition limits included in collective agreements was the fact that these limits increased costs to school districts.” –Reasons for Judgement, Justice S. Griffin

Christy Clark claims that parents supported her decision to strip teachers of the right to ask for more in-school student supports and smaller class sizes, but the evidence she used to convince parents the legislation was necessary has been found lacking by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

“The evidence that the government relied on in the hearing before me, to support its assertion that class size limits were causing hardships to students and parents, was anecdotal hearsay. It was so vague and unsubstantiated that it was impossible for BCTF to challenge it meaningfully. It would be unfair to give it any weight for the truth of its contents.” –Reasons for Judgement, Justice S. Griffin

Clark's speech in favour of this unconstitutional legislation never mentioned that it was designed to slash funding from education. Clark was also the education minister responsible for bringing in the per-pupil funding formula which has led to cuts in school districts across the province.

Even Ms. Clark admits that schools are slashing programs:

“I’m not arguing that schools aren’t cutting band and lots of those other arts programs. They are.” – Christy Clark, CKNW, July 17, 2009

But instead of pledging to fix her failed funding formula which has led to these cuts, Ms. Clark blames school boards for not closing more neighbourhood schools, even though 190 schools have closed since she was education minister.

“[Christy Clark] had me on her show at the beginning of [school closure consultations] and was quite outraged we weren't just going ahead and closing even more schools than were proposed, that we just had to do it. And without any discussion. She talks a lot about having public meetings and forums, but in just seeing how she performed as an education minister and even later on her talk show, she didn't really seem to want to hear from people who had concerns about the direction she believed in.”– Vancouver School Board Chair, Patti Bacchus, The Tyee, Jan. 28, 2011

All of this shows that parents simply can't trust Christy Clark to protect the public education system.