Chilliwack teachers took to the streets on Monday to remind residents to consider education issues when choosing their candidate in the provincial election.
“As in any election, there’s so many things for people to pay attention to that it’s easy for any of the things that people feel strongly about to slip through the cracks,” said Chilliwack Teachers’ Association president Clint Johnston.
Although the CTA will not endorse a candidate, the group does send out election-related information privately to members to better inform their voting.
The CTA identified three education issues as key for this election.
First is no surprise: funding.
“We have seen so many reductions in supports for children in classrooms, in supports for the children that have special needs. Our librarians have been absolutely cut to the bone,” said CTA vice-president Laurie Lenardon. She also teaches Grade 1 at Vedder Elementary School, where the 450 students have only a 60 per cent librarian.
Second is waiting for testing for special needs students.
“We’ve got more special needs kids than ever before being identified, but there’s been no correlating increase in funding,” said Johnston.
Third is honesty in bargaining.
“Any party that comes to power, we just want an honest ability to sit down at the table and negotiate a fair deal,” said Johnston.
Chilliwack-Hope NDP candidate and current incumbent Gwen O’Mahony was the only politician to make an appearance at the rally.
CTA is encouraging residents in both Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Hope ridings to learn about each of the candidates’ education plans at the all-candidates’ debate, and use that towards making an informed voting choice.
The CTA will ask candidates of both ridings about their views on education issues at a public forum May 2, at 7 p.m. at Evergreen Hall.
“There’ll be questions coming from certain groups, and we’ll give the candidates an opportunity from Chilliwack, our community. We want to have some answers,” said Alfred Hubner, who serves as the local election chairperson for the CTA and teaches at the Fraser Valley Distance Education School.