I am deeply concerned about our provincial government’s attitude towards our public school system and in particular, at this time, to the teachers in that system.
Having been principal and teacher at Kelowna’s Immaculata High School (part of the Catholic Independent school system) for many years, I was privileged to work with many public school teachers and administrators with respect to mutual concerns about the students for whom we were responsible.
I know how challenging and demanding it is to be a teacher and how dedicated most teachers are to their students. Would that the government shared that dedication.
Since 2001, there has been a huge decline in supports for low income and struggling families in this province and teachers have been bearing the burden of more and more students with special needs, with students coming to school without breakfast or food for lunch, with students trying to cope with violence in their families and with students who get bumped from foster home to foster home. All our social services are under-funded and stretched to the max and it is the teachers who see affected children day after day.
Despite what the government says, the public education system has been inadequately funded for many years now. All districts, even those with rapidly growing student populations, are struggling with year after year of cutbacks and threatened deficits due to cost increases in all aspects of their functioning – cost increases for which the government provides little or no compensation. The situation is so bad that many teachers are paying for classroom supplies and even text books out of their own pockets. It is so bad that some schools are depending on fund raising drives for resources to support their students. This happens in the so-called developing world but 15 years ago, who would have predicted that happening in wealthy BC. It’s pretty embarrassing, if you ask me.
Shame on the BC government and bravo to the teachers who have the determination and courage to stand up and to say “Enough.” I, for one, am standing with them and we should be demanding that our elected School Trustees take concrete action as well.