Dear Christy Clark,

I know I won’t get a response; I’ll be lucky if anyone actually reads this.  I know a little about education and have a great deal at stake here in BC regarding the current labour issues with the BCTF so I hope you’ll at least consider what I’m about to say.  I spend most of my time working back east in Toronto and traveling throughout Canada.  Almost all my work is with 40 or so universities across the country – dealing with issues about entrance standards, curriculum, pedagogy, and faculty development.  I can’t say I understand how to teach kindergarten but I do fully understand what it takes to help a student in grade 12 prepare for entering university.  And I have some personal skin in that game as well – my 17 year old daughter should be starting Grade 12 this week.  Should be.

graduation

How do I explain to her that in nine other provinces the new Grade 12 students are now going back to school. They will have the full nine or ten months of education that their provinces have deemed ideal or necessary to help students learn the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to enter university 12 months from now.  But here in BC the government is okay with letting our Grade 12 students fall behind.  I’m not okay with any delay for any student, but my disgust is particularly relevant for our Grade 12s.  They don’t have years to get caught back up and be at the same level as students from Alberta or Ontario.  And yes, less than six months from now BC Grade 12 students, and particularly my daughter, will be submitting their university applications to universities across the country, in the US, and elsewhere.  And what will those applications say?  “I was barely able to complete Grade 11; I wasn’t even able to have Grade 11 final exams.  And I haven’t even started Grade 12 yet.”

Now if you were an admissions officer at a university, how do you assess that student’s application when you are comparing it to students from other provinces where their Grade 12 students are actually doing classes, completing curriculum, and writing exams?  It’s not a good situation.  Perhaps if you have a son in Grade 8 or 9 who can make up the deficiency before they need to apply to university or perhaps if you choose to send your child to a private school where the current strike/lockout does not apply, you don’t care.  But I do because my daughter who is bright – really bright, and should have her choice of some top flight universities is being put at a serious disadvantage.  The sad thing is, there’s nothing she can do about it.  She’s spent 17 years working very hard to be at the top of her class and you are about to slam that door in her face.  Try explaining that to her.  I have tried and there is no good explanation.

Christy – you need to step up on this and actually be a leader.  Take charge.  I completely understand the difficult situation the BCTF and BC Government are in.  But as adults we shouldn’t be harming the future of our most valuable resource – the kids.   At a minimum, get the Grade 12s back in school.  I don’t care how you do it.  We’ll call it a reasonable step forward, a compromise, perhaps we’ll even say that we’re acting in the best interests of our kids.  Wouldn’t that be something?

So as an educator myself, as a parent of two kids in public school, as a parent of a Grade 12 student desperately waiting to start and complete Grade 12, and as a resident in the Premier’s own riding I’m imploring Christy to step up to the plate.  Usually I’d ask you to swing for the fences and get a home run, but I’m far too realistic.  All I’m asking is that you negotiate a walk and get to first base, or bunt the ball three meters and get to first base.  It’s not about winning the game, or the BCTF winning the game.  It’s about playing the game and realizing that there are multiple futures at stake here.  You keep trying for a homerun and missing the ball so just slow down and try a gentler approach.  Let’s get the Grade 12s to first base – in the door, back at the desks and labs.  Next year we can all rejoice and celebrate when those same Grade 12s go off to begin their lives as university students – a road that will lead them to joining the electorate, the workforce, and becoming socially responsible citizens of this province and country.  The other option is not acceptable and your lack of attention and leadership is deplorable.  So dust off your cleats, step into the batter’s box, and don’t swing for a homerun.  Small steps forward are better than no forward progress.