School board chairperson Jamie Brennan states that “50 per cent of students who require additional services do not receive funding for those services.” In order to support these students with special needs, other programs and opportunities must be reduced or eliminated. As a result of these cuts, Nanaimo has the highest class sizes in British Columbia.
I frequently ask trustees and principals why they are silent on our district’s lack of student support and class size limits. The response is always the same: “we cannot speak in support of teacher job action and bargaining.” I remind trustees and principals that standing up for students of Nanaimo Ladysmith is not a “union position.” Every student has the right to quality public education.
Guaranteed supports and class size limits were illegally removed in 2002. It is the job of principals and elected trustees to advocate for the needs of students. Over the past decade, both groups have failed our students and community with their silent approval of the status quo.
Whether or not trustees and principals stand up for students, teachers will continue to advocate for the learning conditions that students deserve.
President, Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association