Lo­cal can­di­dates on ed­u­ca­tion

The Daily Courier - - KELOWNA - By AN­DREA PEA­COCK

Lo­cal Green and NDP can­di­dates agree the BC Lib­er­als have spent too much time fight­ing teach­ers, while the Lib­er­als say their track record shows a com­mit­ment to ed­u­ca­tion. “Lo­cally, I’m glad that we have long-term labour peace with the BC Teach­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion,” said Norm Let­nick, Lib­eral can­di­date for Kelowna-Lake Coun­try.

This past Novem­ber, the Supreme Court of Canada re­in­stated lan­guage from a for­mer col­lec­tive agree­ment, restor­ing class size and com­po­si­tion to 2002 lev­els.

“Mov­ing for­ward, I to­tally hope that we can achieve an­other long-term agree­ment with the teach­ers’ fed­er­a­tion to con­tinue the labour peace that we have, so we can con­tinue fo­cus­ing on the needs of our kids,” said Let­nick.

Let­nick said he plans to con­tinue ad­vo­cat­ing for the re­place­ment of and the build­ing of schools as needed in the Cen­tral Okana­gan.

“We an­nounced not too long ago mov­ing for­ward with the new school in the (Mis­sion),” he said. “We con­tinue to have a great work­ing re­la­tion­ship with School Dis­trict 23, and they ba­si­cally work through what their cap­i­tal pri­or­i­ties are, and my job is to try and ad­vo­cate for our kids to get the funds that we need.”

Let­nick said his main mes­sage to lo­cal con­stituents about ed­u­ca­tion is, “lots done, more to do.”

Shel­ley Cook, the NDP’s can­di­date for Kelowna West, said her fo­cus is on deal­ing with the ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties of stu­dents, in­clud­ing child poverty and af­ford­abil­ity.

“I’m hear­ing a lot of con­cern from teach­ers who are wor­ried about chil­dren com­ing to their schools in poverty, hun­gry and not able to meet their ba­sic needs, let alone feel­ing that their ed­u­ca­tional needs are not be­ing met,” said Cook.

“We need to stop fight­ing with par­ents and teach­ers and do what we know works in terms of de­vel­op­ing healthy, re­spon­si­ble young peo­ple.”

The BC NDP has promised an ex­tra $30 mil­lion an­nu­ally to­wards ed­u­ca­tion for the next three years if elected.

“I think it’s about de­vel­op­ing a pub­lic school sys­tem that peo­ple can de­pend on,” said Cook. “This is not a mas­sive amount of money when we know when we in­vest in these things, there is pos­i­tive eco­nomic re­turn.”

The BC Greens have promised to in­crease pub­lic school fund­ing by $220 mil­lion this year, ris­ing to $1.46 bil­lion in ex­tra fund­ing by 2020-21.

“I think that our big­gest chal­lenge has been how the BC Lib­eral gov­ern­ment has op­posed teach­ers, fight­ing them in court, spend­ing mul­ti­tudes of cash,” said Rainer Wilkins, Green can­di­date for Kelowna Mis­sion.

“I be­lieve that our teach­ers are ex­perts with re­gards to our kids’ ed­u­ca­tion, along with par­ents, and that we should lis­ten to those ex­perts.”

Wilkins, a par­ent of two young chil­dren, said he is hear­ing from teach­ers that they are un­der­funded.

“The school near where I live, Chute Lake El­e­men­tary, is a rel­a­tively new school, and it’s full,” he said.

The Greens also plan to in­vest $35 mil­lion in nu­tri­tion and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity pro­grams for stu­dents.

“If stu­dents aren’t healthy and aren’t get­ting enough nu­tri­tious meals, their abil­ity to learn is hin­dered,” said Wilkins.

We need to stop fight­ing with par­ents and teach­ers and do what we know works in terms of de­vel­op­ing healthy, re­spon­si­ble young peo­ple.

Kelowna West NDP can­di­date Shel­ley Cook

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.