Reflections on 15 Years Covering BC’s School Wars

Vancouver Sun reporter Janet Steffenhagen was the BC education reporter for 15 years.

She witnessed some key moments and controversies, such as the passing of Bills 27 and 28 in 2002, which stripped teachers of the right to negotiate class size and composition during bargaining. The teachers’ union (BCTF) took the government to court over the decision, which eventually ruled in the union’s favour in 2011.

(Notice how the government still won’t negotiate on class size and composition in this strike? Could it be that Christy doesn’t like getting a judicial slap on the wrist and has turned the current dispute into a personal grudge match? Does Christy and Fassbender actually care about kids and education or are they more concerned about settling an old score?)

She covered the regulation reform of offshore schools, which bring the province’s curriculum to students in countries like China, South Korea, and Thailand, after receiving emails from teachers in some of those schools that complained about bully administrators and attempts by parents and students to bribe teachers. Many schools started as businesses owned by B.C. school districts, but the majority are now owned by entrepreneurs from countries overseas. It’s unclear if B.C. receives any direct financial benefit from the schools.

One of the questions asked by Kati Hyslop of The Tyee online magazine – the complete article may be read here – was:

So when government, education organizations, unions, etc. say that they’re doing this for the kids…

“There have been times when I just said in my mind, ‘No, you’re not doing this for kids, you’re doing this for other reasons.’ And those other reasons might have validity, too, but when you know this is the goal, don’t say this [other thing] is the goal. Say, ‘Yeah, we’re doing this for this reason, and I’m sorry, but sometimes the kids were secondary.’

“Here’s an example coming up: the 10-year deal. [Is the government] really doing that to have peace in school for kids? I’m not saying the government’s going to do it, because I’m not sure that legally they could — but if they were to impose a 10-year deal, then you’ve got an unhappy workforce for 10 years. You don’t have a strike, but do you want to have unhappy teachers for 10 years? That’s not going to benefit kids.”


When government officials like Peter Fassbender or Christy Clark tell the listening or viewing public the government is protecting the budget by refusing to give in to teachers demands, helping parents with their absurd offer of $40/day child care (only paid AFTER strike settled, so that promise does diddly-squat for the majority of parents who need the funds right now), or the government needs a 10 year contract (ordered by Christy Clark) with the teachers for financial stability and helping school kids, I have to wonder how dumb the Fassbender and Clark think the BC public are.

I can’t blame Fassbender for the remarks he has been making during his tenure as Education Minister, as he is simply doing as any good little boy in the BC Liberal government; doing exactly what Christy tells hm to do.

Peter wants to move up the political money train now that he has left the job of mayor of Langley (and quickly grabbed the $60,000 as a Translink director)  saying “I’m not going there because I’m going to get extra pay. I want this to work. I’m prepared to put in the effort.” Yeah. Right. Anytime someone says it isn’t about the money you know darn well it’s all about the money. Gee whiz, Peter, do you really think the voting public is so gullible you can talk to them like their idiots?

If there is a Guinness World Record for stretching credibility there would be a first-place tie between Fassbender and Clark.

If there was a Guinness World Record for best puppet operated by a politician it would be Fassbender.