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Pique: Many teachers and parents are opposed to standardized testing in schools. What is your view on standardized testing?
JS: The foundation skills assessment tests are being used to evaluate schools, not to help students. The school evaluations are being used for school selection, not for school improvement. The result is that the discrepancies between schools are reinforced as the schools with greatest challenges lose students and resources.
Pique: Whistler just had a daycare close. One of the reasons given is the difficulty in finding staff that meet provincial qualifications requirements, as well as daycare funding cuts at the federal level that were then matched at the provincial level. What would you do to save daycare?
JS: (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper's policy of granting $100/month for every child instead of supporting daycare facilities was designed to undermine public daycare and the Provincial Liberals have allowed it to succeed in B.C. The long-term solution is to elect more enlightened governments at both the federal and provincial levels. Availability of safe and quality daycare is a necessity in any community with young families. To address a shortage of qualified staff, training must be made available via distance education, and provision should be made for new workers to train while they work.
Pique: The carbon tax is a complicated and controversial issue for B.C. What are your views about this tax, and plans for it to grow through 2012?
JS: A fee for the damage caused by carbon emissions should be imposed. The Liberals deserve credit for their carbon tax which applies to 70 per cent of carbon emissions. However, the taxes they reduced to make it revenue-neutral favour the urban wealthy. Making the carbon tax revenue-neutral within geographic regions and income groups would make it fairer and more acceptable. The timid NDP plan on industrial emitters would only cover 33 per cent of carbon emissions.
Pique: Please tell us something about yourself that people may not know - secret hobby, guilty pleasure, how you like to spend your spare time...
JS: I love to be on the water, whether in my rowboat, kayak, windsurfer, or small sailboat. When the water is frozen on hills, I love to ski.
Party: B.C. NDP
Pets: No, but I live with my little brother
Occupation when not running for/serving in public office: I still work full time, and I also go to school. I work for a non-profit as a Children Who Witness Abuse Counsellor, working with clients aged three to eightteen that have either been abused or been exposed to violence.