Neither side has best interests of B.C. students at heart: Poll

A new Global News Ipsos Reid poll shows British Columbians are divided about the ongoing education dispute, with neither side seen as caring about the best interests of students.

Forty-one per cent of British Columbians think the BCTF cares about the best interests of students, while 57 per cent disagree. The results are even more negative among parents, with only 34 per cent agreeing that the BCTF has shown it cares about the best interests of students, compared to 66 per cent who disagree.

The results are even worse for the provincial government. Only 22 per cent of people think the provincial government cares about the best interests of students. Seventy-five per cent of people disagree.

The poll shows both the general public and parents disapprove of the actions of the BCTF and the provincial government.

B.C. teachers have a slight edge in overall public opinion as to which side is being more fair and reasonable. Thirty-nine per cent of British Columbians think teachers are being fair and reasonable. That’s five per cent ahead of the 34 per cent who think the provincial government has been fair and reasonable.

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However, nearly one-quarter (23 per cent) of people think “neither” side has been more fair or reasonable than the other.

When it comes to parents with children in the public school system, 35 per cent of people thought the provincial government was being “fair and reasonable,” compared to 33 per cent for the teachers.

A slim majority (52 per cent) approve of the actions of teachers in general, while 45 per cent disapprove. But parents are more likely to disapprove of the teachers’ actions: with 50 per cent disapproval and 48 per cent approval ratings (??).

The teachers’ union, the BCTF, does not get the same level of approval as teachers. Only 31 per cent of parents approve of the BCTF’s actions, compared to 68 per cent who approve.

The provincial government fairs a little better among parents, but not much. Thirty-three per cent of parents approve of the province’s actions, and 66 per cent disapprove.

Approval seems to be split across genders, however. Women are more likely than men to approve of the actions of teachers, at 57 per cent approval, compared to 48 per cent for men.

Despite the provincial government’s rejection of binding arbitration, there is significant support among British Columbians with nearly six-in-ten (58 per cent) approving of the concept, while 38 per cent disapproved.

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Parents are slightly more divided on the issue of binding arbitration. Fifty-one per cent approve of the idea, and 46 per cent disapprove.

Only 34 per cent of British Columbians say they would approve of the provincial government legislating an end to the dispute by imposing a contract. Parents are a little more supportive of an imposed settlement, but a majority still disapprove of the idea (42 per cent approve vs. 55 per cent disapprove).

As for when students will finally return to class, there isn’t a lot of optimism among British Columbians. Only three-in-ten (30 per cent) think students will be back in class by mid-September (8 per cent) and late September (22 per cent).

Other expectations for when students could return to class include early October (26 per cent), mid October (20 per cent) and late October or later (14 per cent). Ten per cent have no opinion on when students could return to class.

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll of 1,028 adult British Columbians conducted online using Ipsos Reid’s national online household panel between September 8 and 10, 2014. These data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample’s regional and sex composition reflects that of the actual BC population according to 2011 Census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points had all British Columbia adults been surveyed. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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