The big news in education this week surrounded the report (Ministry of Education) of Don Avison, a lawyer and former NDP deputy education minister, who claimed that the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation has interfered with the affairs of the British Columbia College of Teachers (BCCT) and that the BCCT is mired in dysfunction and government intervention and reform is essential.   The report, which isn’t lengthy,  should be read by anyone with an interest in education in BC or the self-regulation of the teaching profession.

Mr. Avison was appointed (The Province) by current Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid following a series of allegations before the summer by the chairman of the BCCT about the conduct of the BCTF in relation to the functions of the BCCT.  The BCTF has started a defamation lawsuit againt the chairman in May (see here for more information), but it’s unclear whether that claim is ongoing.

One interesting element of this story, which like anything else has considerable political elements, is what legal instruments the province has decided to use to regulate teachers.  The BCCT is governed by the Teachers Profession Act (BC Laws), which sets out, for example, in section 5 how the council will be composed:

5 (2) The council consists of the following:

(a) 12 members elected to serve on the council as the representatives of the zones;

(b) 7 persons appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the recommendation of the minister, at least 3 of whom must be members;

(c) one person, nominated jointly by the deans of the faculties of education in British Columbia, who is appointed by the minister to hold office during pleasure.

One of the recommendations of the report involves enhancing government control and control generally is one of the re-occuring themes running.  Who should control the BCCT: teachers or the government?  Should the council be composed entirely of government appointees?  Who should ultimately be responsible?  Who should be able to make final decisions on all matters, other than the courts? 

These are often political decisions that require legal implementation.  See the positions of the Vancouver Sun here and the BCTF here.