Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


I have been watching the debate over children's education and the potential looming and dreaded cuts with interest as I'm certain many others have.

I hadn't written on the subject because I didn't think I qualified as having the knowledge or expertise to make comment on this subject. A friend, however, thinks I should blog something (thanks Claudia Ferris) and she is correct that I shouldn't be apprehensive to speak out regarding my feelings.

As readers may know the Minister of Education Margaret McDiarmid announced that the Vancouver School Board has a legal duty to present a balanced budget and because of underfunding from the government, the duly elected Vancouver School Board was squeezed tight by the bigger government and without making cuts, the democratically elected School board would find itself in a very difficult situation. Who after all wants to chop away at public education?

Ms McDiarmid sent in an independent auditor to assist the School board in finding efficiencies within the budget and I was a tad shocked since I thought this process would be a collaborative one but what I witnesses was far from being collegial. More like combative if you ask me.

I might be wrong but I thought the role of our elected School Boards are to ensure that each student is provided a good education and further that School Boards according to the School Act must be free and independent.

What the public is witnessing here is an underfunded School Board and how can they possibly deliver quality education if they are poorly funded?

It seems to me that Patti Bacchus, Chairwoman of the Vancouver School Board and other Trustees must go to the walls for the sake of the children of this city and province. They cannot allow our young people's education to suffer because the provincial government has underfunded it in the first place.

This issue is similar in many ways to the Vancouver School Board being fired in the 80's. That School board bravely stood up and said we are willing to be fired because we refuse to make cuts which will hurt children. They were fired, a Trustee to oversee operations for the government was appointed and in the subsequent election the COPE School Board swept every school board seat.

I spoke today with former COPE Trustee Sadie Kuehn, who was one of the Trustees who swept into power after the firings.

Here is what she said, " we are competing in a world economy and we should be preparing our young people to those challenges and we keep short-changing them with policies to save a few extra dollars and this is wrong ".

I concur with Ms Kuehn and I think an overwhelming majority of the public would as well.

I just can't understand how the government can pay out large increases for senior managers and pay raises for themselves, yet treats our young people like second class citizens. This is wrong!

To the elected Board Trustees and the Chair Ms Bacchus, please don't you dare take a chopping block to young people's education and if this means you are fired, this whole City will get behind you and make sure you are returned with an even stronger mandate.

The young people are counting on you Ms Bacchus.

Don't retreat, mobilize.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Vancouver Parent said...

Thanks for the vote of support on behalf of our kids, Jamie Lee!

As a parent I am very concerned about the cuts and the response we have seen recently. It is alarming to see the Province and its defenders dismiss BC's students as just another selfish "special interest group."

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Jamie Lee Hamilton said...


Thank you for stating very clearly what needs to be stated!!!

I hope something good comes about for parents, their children and our young people. For anyone to say that students are another special interest group is wrong.



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