The full text of the decision is here: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/14/01/2014BCSC0121cor1.htm
Iker said that in 2002, kindergarten class sizes were capped at 20 students, while Grades 1 to 3 were capped at 22. Today, those limits are 22 and 24, so each primary class will have to go down by two students. In 2002, class sizes for Grades 4 to 12 were negotiated by each school district, so there was no consistency across the province, Iker said.
In addition, in 2002 the contract included specific ratios for specialist teachers such as librarians and special-ed instructors, and rules about the numbers of special-needs children that could be in the same classroom. Some of those limits were provincial and others were negotiated within each district.
Iker would not speculate on the cost of restoring these limits, which presumably would mean hiring more teachers, but since 2002 B.C. has lost 1,400 specialist teachers, while close to 700 special-education teachers, more than 100 counsellors and 300 teacher-librarians have been cut from the system.
On Monday, the B.C. Supreme Court concluded that the Clark government has not just trampled the Charter rights of the province’s teachers for the past dozen years, but that it did so in an effort to manufacture a failure in collective bargaining for political gain.
Justice Susan Griffin’s ruling paints a picture of a government that stubbornly stuck to a political agenda, even after the court found Ms. Clark’s bill unconstitutional in 2011. When that verdict was delivered, a chastened Ms. Clark promised to fix the law. Her government vowed to “be entirely mindful of every word in the judgment.”
What the province did, however, was introduce virtually the same legislation, plus a $165-million fund for special-needs students.
The 2002 laws, Bills 27 and 28, took class size and composition – the number of special-needs students integrated into the classroom – out of the collective-bargaining process. Ms. Clark said at the time that the changes were needed to replace “rigid provisions and inflexible ratios with common sense and good judgment.”
The court Monday found a more sinister motive.
The B.C. Liberal government thought that a teachers strike would give it a political advantage, Justice Griffin found, and this mindset set bargaining up for failure and made disruption in the public-school system inevitable.
Further, Justice Griffin concluded that the government hoped to weaken the teachers’ union. The ministry of education’s superintendent for achievement “saw it as serving a useful goal of driving a wedge between individual teachers and the [British Columbia Teachers’ Federation],” she wrote.