VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – They may have struck a tentative deal with the province, but BC’s teachers are going back to court to fight Bill 22 as the union doesn’t expect classroom conditions to improve next year.

“This agreement changes nothing in schools,” states Susan Lambert, President of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation.

Despite some benefit improvements and leave provisions, Lambert says the deal, which will end June 30th, 2013, does nothing to address overcrowding or restore cuts for struggling students. That means they’re going back to court to fight Bill 22, which ended their job action, calling it unconstitutional.

“Yes, we are asking for money for public education. We’re asking for smaller class sizes. I’m asking for a full-time library in every school,” notes Lambert. “This civil claim is aimed at getting our rights back and the public education system should get $3.3-billion back cumulatively over the past 10 years.”

Lambert thinks government-appointed mediator Dr. Charles Jago lacked mediation skills but did his best to reach a deal and pushed the employer to make concessions.

She adds regardless of the government in power, teachers will still advocate for students.

Teachers thank parents for their support

Lambert says she doesn’t think parents became fed up with teachers despite them not coaching or taking part in extra-curricular activities.

“Parents are very clear that they want classroom conditions that allow their children to learn,” believes Lambert. “So they want smaller class sizes and those programs that are constructed to help children that are struggling in schools. Parents are very, very clear and strong in their advocacy for public education.”

She credits parents for forcing the province to reach a deal with them, saying the government recognized it was out on a limb.

“That the threats that they [government] had made to teachers — that the Premier had made, that the Minister [of Education] had made — to bring in punitive legislation and to take the teachers on, all of those would not have served them well politically because they know that parents expect better of their government.”

NDP leader won’t commit to teacher raises if he wins election

NDP leader Adrian Dix says he’s thankful BC’s teachers and the province were able to agree to a negotiated deal, but he won’t commit to giving teachers a raise if his party wins the May 2013 election.

“I think right now, one of the key priorities for government is to improve public education,” Dix says. “I think teachers agree with that. And to do that, we have to stop the fighting. But I think everybody knows we need more resources, but everyone knows that money is tight.”

Dix doesn’t expect an easy round of bargaining when the teachers’ tentative deal ends at the end of next June.

“These negotiations are always difficult in these times. But there’s no alternative to negotiating, that’s what I intend to do regardless,” Dix says. “But I believe in being respectful, and I think that in this day and age, surely we have to work together  This is not the time, with this economy and this skills shortage, to be constantly fighting in education.”

Dix does contend public education is better served under an NDP government than a Liberal one.