BC Charter for Public Education

Click here or download the pdf file to the full charter or read an excerpt below which is currently under construction.

 

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The Charter panel held public hearings in 42 communities throughout the province.

(Alberni, Campbell River, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Cranbrook, Creston, Delta, Fernie, Fort St. John, Gibsons, Hope, Kamloops, Kelowna, Kimberley, Langley, Maple Ridge, Masset, McBride, Merritt, Nanaimo, Nelson, North Vancouver, Penticton, Port McNeil, Prince George, Prince Rupert, Princeton, Revelstoke, Richmond, Salmon Arm, Skidegate, Sparwood, Squamish, Surrey North End, Surrey South End, Terrace, Vancouver East Side, Vancouver East Side, Vancouver West Side, Vancouver West Side, Victoria, Whistler)

The panel was committed to the notion that the term “public education” should be interpreted in its broadest sense, rather than referring only to the K – 12 public school setting.

 

Introduction, Background and Process

During the winter of 2001-2002, the leadership of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation began a process which was to lead eventually to the development of the Charter for Public Education. The BCTF Executive Committee felt that discussion about education in the province was often too narrowly focused on the immediate. The anxiety, anger and pain which characterized much of the debate regarding public education often obscured the bigger picture. British Columbians would benefit, the BCTF leaders believed, from engaging one another on the principles underpinning the public education system.

Certainly the stakeholders and education partner groups, as well as the wider community, would have a continuing desire and responsibility to participate in the vital day-to-day political and social policy debates which inform the current context. Nevertheless, broader and more fundamental discussion, it was felt, was needed.

The idea of an independent commission which would travel the province, hear from and speak with British Columbians and then report back in the form of a Charter, was brought to the BCTF Annual General Meeting in March 2002. It is worth noting that the concept was met, initially, with some skepticism. Many teachers, and their leaders, were not convinced that their resources should be expended in this way. Why, they asked, should teachers pay for a commission which they would not control, which would operate independently and which would report to BCTF at the same time as to the rest of the province? Nevertheless, after much debate and discussion, the 670 teacher delegates to the Annual General Meeting approved the initiative overwhelmingly. Later in the spring of 2002 the BCTF Representative Assembly approved a budget for the Charter.

The BCTF Executive Committee set several criteria for selection of members of the Charter panel. One of the five was to be a teacher. For the others, the requirements included that they not have any connection with the BCTF either currently or in the past, that they represent the diversity of the community, that they be credible as individuals and that they be supporters of the public education system. This last point was important.

The Charter process was always seen in the context of a strong and vibrant public education system. Still, the attitude of the panel members to any particular issue or controversy, or indeed their views on what constituted the principles of public education, were The BCTF Executive Committee set several criteria for selection of members of the Charter panel. One of the five was to be a teacher. For the others, the requirements included that they not have any connection with the BCTF either currently or in the past, that they represent the diversity of the community, that they be credible as individuals and that they be supporters of the public education system. This last point was important. The Charter process was always seen in the context of a strong and vibrant public education system. Still, the attitude of the panel members to any particular issue or controversy, or indeed their views on what constituted the principles of public education, were unknown when they were requested to participate, nor were they asked about any of these before they were chosen.

The Charter panel members were selected, except in one case, during the spring of 2002. The Reverend Margaret Marquardt, George Watts, Kathy Whittam and David Chudnovsky agreed to participate during this period. Unfortunately, a fifth panel member became ill and was required to withdraw in late August of 2002. Dr. John Moss was asked to participate in September and became a member of the panel.

It was understood that the budget was to be administered by the members of the Charter panel. Similarly, once the panel was put in place, it was responsible for all administrative and policy decisions. The expectation of the five panel members was that they were responsible for the writing of the Charter, a comprehensive report, recommendations to the BCTF and an accounting of the budget and expenditures.

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