Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Defend Public Education! Oppose Bill 20!

Young Communist League of Canada, BC Committee

As students are beginning their summer break the B.C. Liberal government is hard at work to further strip them of privacy and proper education for the next semester. Bill 20, which had its first reading on April 30, would allow individual School Boards the ability to mandate surveillance equipment such as cameras in public schools. This comes as part of a larger attack on the democratic institution of School Boards and the entire public school system.

This carte blanche dictate is limited by very few rules. No restrictions on where cameras are deployed, how they should be used, how students' privacy rights will be safeguarded, and in which places they are inappropriate. There is no requirement to limit access to the images caught on school cameras.

All this expensive surveillance equipment has been given the green light at a time when School Boards face serious budget limitations due to inadequate provincial funding. In most schools in British Columbia text books have gone over twenty years without being replaced. Also, school councilors and support workers have been cut out of the budget which means that real problems, which a camera will not catch, will go unresolved.

The Vancouver School Board has come under heavy fire from the B.C. Liberal government for its vocal refusal to compromise standards to pay for tax breaks and the Corporate Olympic Circus. An expensive inquiry into the governance practices of the VSB by the Provincial Government accused the School Board of poor planning; however, the budget suggestions from the B.C. Liberals include only negative reactionary cuts such as layoffs and privatization.

Educators are taking a stance against the bill as well. The BC Teachers Federation has slammed the bill saying it doesn’t address the learning needs of students and further undermines the democratic governance of public education. Teachers are also concerned about the privatization of public schools, as the bill allows for the collection of user fees and even the conversion of schools into “specialty academies” by a vote of as few as three parents and the Principal.

The attack on students and School Boards is another step towards the privatization of schools that has always been the goal of the B.C. Liberals. Reduction of provincial funding is intentional to stress the ability of democratic bodies to govern the education system. Moves such as Bill 20, in which students are put under heavier surveillance, are intended to force resolvable school issues into the public eye in attempts to slander the public education system, and violate the rights of students and staff alike.

Support the Vancouver School Board!
Demand fully funded public education!
No surveillance cameras in our schools!

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