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The Average Teacher in BC Earns $60,581

That fact comes from the British Colubmia Teacher’s Federation website. If you graduate with a Bachelor’s of Education and step into a job, the minimum starting salary is about CAN $35,000 (and those are 2001 numbers).

Over the past 15 years, the ratio of educators to students has increased by an average of 1.1 students (sources are here and here).

These are facts that the BCTF doesn’t exactly emphasize in their current job action for “improved learning conditions, restored bargaining rights, and a fair salary increase” (but not, I expect, precisely in that order).

84 Responses to “The Average Teacher in BC Earns $60,581”

  1. b

    I don’t think this is relevant to the strike debate but something to consider in your discussions: To be considered a BC Teacher does not mean you have a full-time job as a teacher. There are numerous TOC’s and numerous part-time teachers (mostly not in this position by choice)

    In the highest paid District in BC, Starting salary for a full-time position, (which is not available at this time nor has it been since prior to 2000) is $39,312. After 11 years experience with a 5 year degree a teachers salary is $63,306 This has not changed from 2003, possibly longer. The maximum that a teacher can make in this district is $69,857 with 11 years experience and a masters degree, this is the salary cap. Years of experience is not calculated by # of years hired within a district but #of years working full-time within a district, TOC and part-time hours are calculated so that it can take around 3 years to get 1 year experience. Of course this is all before deductions.

  2. Carol

    I’ve just come off the picket line in Pemberton and this site has made for some interesting reading.I think I can appreciate most of the comments made. There are always different ways of looking at a situation like this current strike. I often have mixed feelings about the whole thing because I don’t think any one side is “right” in a dispute with this much rhetoric. One thing I do know is that the education system is being neglected and the children I teach are going to form the future of our society. We need to question aourselves about the kind we want. I personally don’t care about a salary increase, it isn’t even on the radar for me–though what is wrong with a salary increase? Didn’t the MLAs get 10.1% in June? The more I thought about the situation in education today the more it occured to me that if anything, there should be a lot more money put into programmes for youth. Not just in school but in after school opportunities. When you see the ****ed up teens on crystal meth you can’t help but think if they had more creative or athletic outlets they might not end like that. Remember that crazy guy in the bait car video driving 120 km down the street, screaming like a maniac and trying to shoot a gun? An extreme image to be sure, but is that possibly the direction our society is heading toward? Kids need positive support and mentors/guides/teachers to help them achieve the best for themselves.
    One more thing—I spend a lot of my own money for my classroom and can’t even get it written off in my tax return the way a carpenter can his tools, let alone be reimbursed for it from the education system. Any nurses out there–how would you like to start buying bandages for your patients? I spend my own money so fun and creative things can happen in the classroom–the school system certainly won’t pay for it.

  3. Frank

    Lance Said: I, personally own my own business so the wage thing really has me burning. I don’t have ANY kind of medical, Dental, or any form of benefits package at all … I pay for EVERYTHING out of pocket. For every employee I have, I have to “contribute” dollar for dollar to CCP and Workers Compensation and $1.40 for every dollar to EI. Here’s the kicker … If my business goes under for ANY reason, I get sick enough to be laid up for an extended amount of time, or get injured while working … I am UNABLE to collect EI, or make any kind of Worker’s Compensation claim. In short, I make payments to the governement and other agencies for services that I have NO RIGHT to if I am unable to work for any reason. So teachers asking for more money doesn’t hold water with me either.

    Lance, don’t expect sympathy for your situation because (pardon the all-caps) YOU CHOSE IT. You are an entrepreneur who chose to take on HUGE risks for the possibility of HUGE profits (eventually). That is the nature of being an employer. Your employees, who do not get an equal share of your profits, have an agreement to work for you under certain conditions. If you were to change the agreement without their agreement, they could walk. Teachers had their agreement changed without their consent, and that is wrong, regardless of whaqt you think about their pay and benefits. These are things we bargained and made agreements for. We don’t deserve to have them taken away from us without discussion.

  4. John

    This may be a dumb question, but how many hours a year do teachers work?

  5. Carla

    I can only speak for myself but I do not think I am atypical. As a new teacher in Grade 6 working fulltime I put in 65-70 hours most weeks. Occasional weeks might be a bit less and during report cards it went to 80. This is probably the top end of the scale but statistics I have read from teacher surveys indicate the average teacher works 55 hours a week. This does not include meetings, inservices, workshops or coaching committments. I arrive at 7:45 for an 8:45 start and stay to 5 or 5:30. I then take 1 to 2 hours of prep and marking home with me. I have personally spent entire weekends marking a big socials or science project. (about 1 hour per student if you bother to give them meaningful feedback). Summers are off but not as much as folks think. Most teachers spend 4-7 days after close doing paperwork, tidying, reorganization etc. The majority also begin working at least part time days the week before school begins.

  6. Joy

    Sorry guys this is another long entry but all this talk about what the UN has to say concerning whether or not teaching is an essential service is silly.
    Refer to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
    It is very clear that a right to an education is intended. Refer to Articles 4 and more specifically to Articles 28 and 29 for details. Many countries are too chaotic to provide this for their people. However the ideal situation for children around the world should be that education and the opportunity to change their lives for the good is their right. The sad thing in the middle of all this is that both sides are right to a certain degree. The Liberals have been pretty heavy handed in their drive to get the province on its feet economically after the free spending reign of the NDP. The decisions have not been pleasant and I understand the frustration. Exercising our democratic rights is important but is it democratic to defy a legally elected government and break the law, seriously impacting others lives. Democracy means I have a choice of who I choose to govern me. This has been decided for the time being and I am going to live with it. We can’t go to a referendum every time we have a disagreement with government to assess the majority opinion on an issue. No government is perfect but if I was a teacher and really cared about my students I think I could wait till June to negotiate so as not to risk the education of the students in my charge. I say get back in there, draw wages and in the meantime sit down like the intelligent people you are and sort out these issues. Many sectors of the work force have received no wage increases for ages. As S.E.A.’s we have received no negotiated wage or COL increases for over 5 years although we have received from the government a pay equity pay out that has brought our wage up $3 an hour. Anyway, perhaps we should quit worrying about our own pockets so much and lobby to see that UN ideal fulfilled. For some people $10 a year is too much for them to pay to see their children educated. I know that the public purse is not bottomless and in the end I pay for any increases anyway through my taxes. In the meantime I have a son that is in danger of not completing his University entrance requirements due to what I see as a self righteous and unnecessary job action.

  7. Frank

    Having been a teacher for 16 years, I can say that Carla’s hours are pretty standard. I’d like to add that I don’t know a single teacher’s family who had that teacher as a parent for the entire weekend during a school year. Everyone spends an hour or two marking on a Sunday evening or Saturday afternoon. Let us not forget the time that teachers spend checking the TV guide to see if there is something applicable to tape off of the History Channel or Knowledge network etc. When summer rolls around it is truly a wonderful time to FINALLY disengage our brains for a few weeks.

    As far as the UN goes, it of course means access to the school system, not “non-stop, on demand classroom time on your terms”. The UN wants every child to be able to have a system of education they can access. It is not justification for heavy handed babysitting laws.

    The teachers DID wait until the summer to negotiate, but the employers body refused to discuss anything substantial over the summer.

    Finally, let us not forget that the governemnt is using students as pawns just as much as some people claim the teachers are. Every time we try to leverage our position (what else does an employee have to work with when dealing with an employer?) the government plays the guilt trip and refuses to change their stance. “You wouldn’t hurt a poor defenseless child would you?” Come on. play fair.

  8. b

    The government is holding out in hopes that the parent support in favor of the teachers will dwindle as parents have to deal with their kids during the day. The teachers want to talk, and get back to work…

  9. Joy

    Yes but Jenny Sims doesn’t. She just wants the complete package of demands ratified for else.

  10. John

    Will any holidays be forfeited so the kids can catch up on their education?

  11. Frank

    John said:

    Will any holidays be forfeited so the kids can catch up on their education?

    Not likely. The govbernemtn may say so and threaten it, but they would probably not follow through. There was a strike about 5 or so years ago in Ft. St. John, lasting 6 weeks at the end of the year. No extra time was added. In fact, because everyone returned dedicated,the scores on gr. 12 exams were actually UP fromthe previous year.

  12. Carol

    Just that you all know this: there are tons of immigrant professionals with university degrees and 5 years plus experience (by the way, not all of them don’t speak fluent English) are earning a lot less than 35K per year. In fact, the average annual income of an immigrant professional in Vancouver is 25K. If whoever making 35K complains about “making ends meet”, what do you think about those people?

  13. Frank

    Carol said:
    In fact, the average annual income of an immigrant professional in Vancouver is 25K. If whoever making 35K complains about “making ends meet”, what do you think about those people?

    I’m not sure what your point is, Carol. Are you telling teachers that they should shut up and be happy that they are getting paid at all, that there are “starving children in Africa who don’t even get to eat at all”? (thanks Mom).

    If you want immigrant professionals instead of certificated, trained homegrown teachers, send your child to a private school. If you are happy making 35K/YEAR, I’m glad for you. If you want to teach, come on in and try it out. Carol, there are drywallers and builders in Vancouver making more than teachers right now. Electricians and pulp mill workers are pulling in more/year than teachers. Deciding to be a teacher does not equate with choosing to be a pauper. You can choose to pay less for teaching services, but you just might get what you pay for.

  14. Carol

    Hey Frank,
    Don’t get upset. I don’t think it is fair for anyone to shut up anyone.

    I agree with you that it doesn’t seem right for a drywaller/Electrician to earn more than a teacher, but hey, face it, that’s life, that’s labour market, that’s a personal choice in fact. A Teacher certainly can make a career change as well. Lighten up and move on.

    I don’t remember to see programmers or marketing mananagers or Chefs or waitresses on strike and ask for public support. Do you think they don’t want to earn more?

    I just don’t think it is right to inconvenience the lives of others in order to get his/her voice heard.

  15. Frank

    Carol said: I don’t remember to see programmers or marketing mananagers or Chefs or waitresses on strike and ask for public support. Do you think they don’t want to earn more?

    I just don’t think it is right to inconvenience the lives of others in order to get his/her voice heard.

    You are right about chilling out. I apologize.

    The only reason teachers ask for public support is because we are a service occupation. We happen to supply a service to the public, so we are appealing to our clients/customers/consumers to help apply pressure to our employer. Other unions DO ask for public support – remember all the times the TELUS workers have asked for support over the past 10 weeks – its just that the public in general – and I do include myself – are too self centred to even notice let alone care, UNLESS it is an inconvenience. If a chef goes out on strike, they picket the site SPECIFICALLY to inconvenience the employer. They ask you to share the inconvenience of not eating where you want in order to help persuade the employer to change. That is what the teachers are doing here. That is the nature of a labour dispute, whether it is about teaching or cooking or working the telephone lines.

    Personally, I think we have done enough asking for support – if parents get mad, GOOD – go tell your MLA to do something, to put pressure on the government to change something. The government can threaten to throw us in jail, but they should be prepared throw all 38 000 active members in jail. We have already shown that we believe in our convictions so strongly that we are willing to give up more than $1000 in salary already for our cause.

    I will stop ranting and let others speak now.

  16. julie

    Darren, thanks for facilitating this discussion.

    Just to let you know the government has told continuing education principals (through the school board) that teachers are NOT allowed to help students make up for lost time. Ostensibly this is because it would support the strike- but it really seems designed to ensure the maximum political effect. Obviously they are less interested in helping students catch up from this dispute then they are punishing teachers.

  17. julie

    just as an aside? any ideas why secondary class size data is not ‘available’ from the ministry? isn’t this a bit convenient as this is the group most often cited as having numbers over 30?

  18. Joy

    Frank you say you don’t have any sympathy for Lance and his situation as a business owner. If his staff do not agree with his conditions of employment they can walk away from the job. That is true. However, they could not walk out and expect to return to that job. But so can teachers, they could have chosen another job with more advantages if they wanted to. The employer sets the standards in all these business. Our governmet has set a standard you don’t agree with. Leave teaching then, don’t walk off the job illegally and expect to be patted on the back by your employer. Also, beginning teachers can go to where the jobs are, not wait around in the urban areas complaining about having to be a TOC for three years before getting full time employment. The truth is Teaching is a very attractive choice for universtiy students. The time spent is minimal in relation to the education required for many other professions. They can teach after 3 or four years at a basic degree level. They can switch from another degree and take one year of education specific training and get their B. Ed. or they can use their two months off in the summer to do a Masters program over a few years at many universities. Very few other professional people have the option of taking time away from their job for educational purposes without jeopardizing their employment. In the past, Education was by far the easiest faculty to get into and the courses were not as challenging as say Medicine, Architecture, Engineerling or Law. Another point, some Lawyers, Architects or Engineers with their own firms make big money, but their staff of lawyers or engineers or architects do not.

  19. ty

    There has been a bunch of arguing over hours teachers work. Lets take the 80 hours a week figure. I’m sorry, I just plain don’t believe it. That is more than 11 hours a day working. I would say the average teacher would work about 55 hours a week. This is a very Liberal gift to teachers, as it is still over 11 hours for working days, and some time on the weekend. Now this may seem like a lot to some 18 year old kid working at McDonalds for 40 hours a week, but lets compare it to some other “professions.” Lets look at Lawers. My uncle is a lawer at a big firm here in Canada. He is up at and work by 7:00am. He doesn’t get home until at least 5pm again, a liberal estimate. He also goes into work an average of 2 sat. and 2 sun. per month. So thats 10/day, 5 days a week, add say 5 hours more for weekends, and we are up to 55 hours a week. Do lawers get 3 months off per year? I think not. 3-6 weeks, MAX, I have never seen my uncle take more than 3 weeks off at a time ever. Still not satified? Lets look at small buisness owners. I worked for a few over the summer, so I will use them in my example. They worked the average 8 hours a day, but had to be open saturday, so that puts them at 48 hours a week. Now, Often times there would be a sudden rush of work to do over the week. They would go in often at night to finish this work, or sometimes on Sunday. On average, I would give them 55 hours a week, once all was said and done. STILL not satisfied? My father worked for the government of BC. He put in 40 hour weeks, for which he was paid under $40 000/year. (His job was for a town in BC) Now if we count in all of the time for meetings, UNPAID overtime, and all of the extra work involved, he works at the very least 55 hours a week. (for a while he was up to 60-65, but it was too much for him) What kind of vacation did he recieve? 6 weeks. Now, I am sick and tired of hearing teacher griping and whineing about their wages and vacation time. Now as to work conditions, I would challege them to work at a Walmart, or a Costco during Christmas time in the customer complaints office, or perhaps try to be a construction worker on a major 2 lane highway in BC (in 30 degree weather) or perhaps a police officer during spring break… the fact is everyone can pick out at least 1 thing they don’t like about their jobs, some a lot more than just 1, but we don’t go on an illegal strike or shut down cities because of it. When I was in elementary school, we had a class of 33 in grade 4. Teachers managed it back then, they can today too. Quit complaining and get back to work, there is no such thing as THE PERFECT JOB, so quit trying to pretend it exists.

  20. Carla

    Ty said “the fact is everyone can pick out at least one thing they don’t like about their jobs ….. but we don’t go on a illegal strike because of it.”

    You seem to have missed the point, or choose to disbelieve it as many do, that teacher’s working conditions are also student’s learning conditions. We see too many kids falling through the cracks and we care about that even if the cynical out there choose to believe that’s just rhetoric. I currently have in my class, one hearing impaired, learning disabled child, one child that is suffering from neurofibromatosis and cannot produce written output, one mentally challenged child that the ministry has said cannot receive learning assistance (a write-off I guess!?), two severely learning disabled students that must have everything adapted and modified for them and three other students with learning disabilities that are not severe enough to allow them to be designated by the ministries increasingly restrictive standards. Nevertheless, they do need significant amounts of extra help. Not that designation gives them any extra help in the classroom as Learning disabled students do not currently qualify for any funding at all. At best they might be “prioritized” for the severly cut-back and completely inadequate learning assistance time available to the school. This means they might receive two or three 30 minutes chunks of help per week in one subject, usually reading. This might last 8 weeks or so.
    Then they are supposedly “properly serviced” for the year.
    And then there are the “normal” and gifted kids in the classroom. I guess they just have to teach themselves. I would happily go back right now with 0, 0 and 0 for a wage deal if the Liberals would cough up money for more T.A. and learning assistance time. Our kids are not getting what they need!!

  21. Joy

    Carla I do agree with you that the designation situation is getting out of hand. I find that even in my role as an SEA. The ministry seems to not be interested in funding services for Learning disabled and mentally challenged children even with adequate documentation. We had one student who initially required over 30 hours a week of support dropped to 15 and only after a lot of lobbying by parents and staff did the school board in our area come up with at least 27.5 hours a week. Which was what the student needed due to health and safety risks to herself and others around her. She often required more than one staff to properly manage very difficult behaviour. My own son was designated Gifted Learning Disabled and that threw everyone off even the teachers. However, I do not think that this is the thrust of the present job action as I understand it. That is a funding issue to be negotiated by the School Boards with the Province and implemented at the individual district level. I know there are many districts that seem to have more hours available for this kind of support than the one I work for. However, I do support individuals with designations in the regular classes and I do the supporting and modifying under the oversite of a teacher case manager. The classroom teacher is not really involved all that much except to view what the students are doing and general classroom attention. They are not even obligated to mark the work.
    I have heard it from some teachers that they are only in it for the holidays and wages. That is sad but I would imagine their students can pick up on that attitude and it must affect their attitudes as well. Unfortunately not all teachers are good teachers and will always struggle. It is the same in nursing I have found from personal and professional experience in that area.

  22. ty

    Carla said: “I would happily go back right now with 0, 0 and 0 for a wage deal if the Liberals would cough up money for more T.A. and learning assistance time. Our kids are not getting what they need!!”

    I think that if the Liberals had a tabled offer with no teacher wage increase, but an increase in funding for “Special Needs” children, They might accept that sort of offer. Lets face it, the province of BC is not made of money, there isn’t enough to give all teachers an increase and at the same time make a deal for decreased class size. 1 big reason for it: If you decrease class size, you have to hire more teachers. Hire more teachers + wage increase + Special needs funding increase = Not going to happen. There is not enough money for it. Now, if all the teachers were to take your view on wage increase, the province would be in a MUCH better place.

  23. Frank

    Joy said: Very few other professions can take the time off to improve

    *** you are right, but don’t forget – we AREN’T PAID in the summer. They don’t get the time off, but they don’t go 10 weeks without a paycheque either. Teachers could leave, AND THEY have – in large numbers. You are hearing the voices of the ones who don’t want to have to leave the communities they love – partly for self, admittedly, but partly out of a sense of duty for the kids we teach – honestly.***

    In the past, Education was by far the easiest faculty to get into and the courses were not as challenging as say Medicine, Architecture, Engineerling or Law.

    ***And they were/are paid substantially more for the most part***

    Another point, some Lawyers, Architects or Engineers with their own firms make big money, but their staff of lawyers or engineers or architects do not.

    ***Some principals make big money, but their teaching staff (usually less experienced and/or educated) do not.

    As for Ty’s comment about not complaining, Doesn’t anyone have a problem with a government who doesn’t even follow the judgement of its courts? The government makes a law, the labour relations board and other judges rule it illegal, so they make a new law.

  24. Lance

    Teachers working 80 hours per week … not a chance. That works out to 11.4 hours per day … INCLUDING Saturday and Sunday.

    I run a business in Northern BC (2 hrs North of Fort St. John) that deals with the oilfield industry. It includes a motel and “man-camp” for workers out in the oilfield. I also operate and manage the Provincial Park located across the highway from us. I also own a resturaunt in the area that services the enormous amount of truckers working in the oilfied, as well as tourists travelling the Alaska Highway. A “normal” work day for me is between 12-14 hours from Monday to Friday. The weekends are, on average, a little lighter but not much. During the summer months, These hours are at a consistant 16 hours per day because those are my PM (preventative maintenance) months. Up here we are lucky to get 3 or 4 months of “favourable” weather. So that works out to be around 85 – 120 hours a week, depending on the season and circumstances. The business is open from 5am – 10pm every day 364 days a year. Christams Day is the only exception, but I am open for 5 hours during that day. During Chrstmas, my wife and I work for the week that we give ALL our employees off so they can be with their families for the holidays.

    I am NOT looking for sympathy and as someone has said, it was my CHOICE to do what I do for a living. And I agree with whoever said, if you don’t like being a teacher, then leave the profession. You CHOSE to be a teacher and being a teacher entails ALL the problems that come with it.

    All these people that are talking about how long they have be on a ToC list or take temporary positions until a full time position opens up, what I have to say aboutr that, move to where the work is. Plain and simple. Up here we, do not have enough qualified people to fill the majority of “professiona;” positions. We have a shortage of doctors, lawyers, nurses, and yes … teachers … but because the climate up here is “undesireable” (yes, it can be a little harsh) and not close to major cities, the “professionals” don’t want to live here. So what ? Up here, you would get a Northern Living Allowance. Up here you get FRESH air, not smog filtered. Up her, you get wildlife, and not the kind lurking around alleyways. Up here, you can say hello to a stranger without them scurrying aways from you.

  25. Joy

    Frank I am really not sure what you are trying to say. Teachers salaries are not on an hourly day by day basis. It is a contract and should be used to cover the summer months unless you want to work over the summer. I know I do as an SEA. The whole thing about the admin getting more than the teachers really went over my head. Sorry.

  26. Joy

    Frank I am really not sure what you are trying to say. Teachers salaries are not on an hourly day by day basis. It is a contract and should be used to cover the summer months unless you want to work over the summer. I know I do as an SEA. The whole thing about the admin getting more than the teachers really went over my head. Sorry.

  27. Frank

    Joy, when you said that some lawyers make little money and others make more, I was simply pointing out that the same thing happens in teaching. When you said that at University, the Education program was easier, I pointed out that you were probably right, but then again those other jobs also ended up paying more.

    Lance, I know what you mean about Northern living, as I am from PG – I guess we’re both beyond Hope!

  28. Steph

    I have a huge problem with people who break the law to get their way teaching my kids how to solve problems.

  29. Joy

    Frank I do not agree with you that the other jobs end up paying more as a completely true statement. Perhaps in some cases they do. They also have to go to school longer and pay more for their education than teachers do too.

  30. Lance

    The top teachers salary in BC, as reported by the BCTF’s webiste AND the BCSPEA site state that after 11 years (ELEVEN) years that a teacher makes 75K a year. So after only 11 years in a profession, they are at the top of their pay scale.

    Some people, my father for example, have been working in their corresponding industries for 2 or 3 times that long. My father was a self-employed welder for 20 years before he was pulling in the coin similar to teachers salaries.

    This little strike has saved the government MILLIONS … and what do you think they are going to be paying teachers with when you return to work ? Your OWN money.

  31. Carla

    Lance said – “what do you think they are going to pay you with – your own money.”
    Lance, you say that as if it is a revelation to us. We are quite aware that we have saved the government millions. We are not Stupid. As I have been saying, this protest was much more about working/learning conditions and the deterioration of our education system and I think you have just proved the point. Our students mean enough to us that we are willing to sacrifice money out of our own pockets to try to get improvements. This protest was also about holding this government to account for flagrant misuse and abuse of their legislative authority. When you give the government the right to legislate, you expect them to do it with fairness, integrity and responsibility and in a way that benefits the human rights and welfare of a majority of people. This government has consistently and repeatedly used their legislative authority to punish, repress and manipulate people with no respect for their lawful collective bargaining rights. This has happened not just to teachers, but to doctors, crown counsels, and nurses to name just a few. Don’t you find it interesting that the government’s own 400 prosecutors said they would refuse to prosecute if criminal charges were brought against teachers? They were just one group where the government completed binding abritration then walked away from the table, and legislated a bill saying they didn’t have to abide by it. That is immoral and unjust and I agree when the crown prosecutors state – “When they don’t get what they want, they simply legislate. In essence, they are abusing their legislative authority.” (statement by Michael Klaveren, president of B.C. Crown Cousel ASS. in the Metro Vancouver paper).

  32. Sarah

    A lot of young teachers do know what it’s like to work in those other types of workplaces, because in order to finanially survive, they take those types of jobs in the summer months. OR, they work them during the year as well. I have 3 friends who are TOC/Temp Contract teachers in Victoria, and all of them have other jobs to survive. This is also because, and I asked them this, for 1 year of “teacher training school”, they paid about $13,000. So their student loans are pretty high – even if they were able to have a job during that teacher training year, which they weren’t, becuase on top of teaching every day they had classes to go to at night, they wouldn’t have been able to earn that amount of cash with a part-time job.
    Additionally, their program accepted 36 people out of 2,000 applicants. That doesn’t seem so easy to get in to to me.

  33. Jay

    Anybody else notice that Gordon Campbell and the Liberals re-neged on the Ready Recommendations and have now said they never said they would change the school act?

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