Has government properly funded education?

How would you feel if someone took $1000 out of your purse or wallet? How about $275 million dollars a year for 10 years out of your children’s education?

Highest education funding ever? We don’t believe it and you don’t have to take our word. Check out what the BC Supreme Court found in its decision on April 13, 2011.

Confidential government documents revealed a plan (“Run Silent and Run Deep”) to cut $275 million dollars per year from the K-12 public education budget. A November 22, 2001 email from a government official to then-Minister of Education Christy Clark discussing the government’s pending legislation warned: “Parents are apt to notice significant reductions in service levels.” This is exactly what happened.

Minister Clark proudly led legislation based on information that the court found was “not accurate” and “so vague and unsubstantiated that it was impossible to challenge it meaningfully”. The judge stated: “It would be unfair to give it any weight for the truth of its contents.”

What has been the effect on public education in BC?

Since 2001, there has been a 22 per cent reduction in K-12 funding. Boards are scrambling to pay for government downloaded costs such as new curriculum and initiatives, carbon offset taxes and collective agreements without adequate funding. Some Boards have seriously proposed non-replacement of secondary teachers and support staff on the first day of absence. Boards can’t adequately plan in advance due to constantly changing funding formulas and secretary-treasurers are challenged by a $300 million shortfall just to retain the status quo this year.

Schools are being closed; class sizes are increasing; special education, gifted, and ESL student needs are not being met; and, teacher-librarians, special education teachers and counselling levels are being reduced to meet shortfalls.

BC teachers rank eighth in pay in Canada and haven’t had substantial benefit improvement in 20 years. Education ministers since Christy Clark have continued to claim that the government has provided the “Highest funding ever”.

Declining enrolment has been used as a smokescreen to hide the fact that there is a “structural shortfall” in funding because the government is chronically lagging behind what it should be paying for delivery of services that Boards are mandated to provide.

You be the judge.

Have you noticed a reduction in education service levels? Is your Board scrambling to meet mandated services? Has your neighbourhood school been closed?

Email Premier Clark at premier@gov.bc.ca and ask where the money taken from BC’s kids has gone and urge her to restore education funding immediately.  Our kids can’t wait!

Arrow Lakes Teachers’ Association – Pat Dion ; Boundary District Teachers’ Association – Norm Sabourin; Creston Valley Teachers’ Association – Becky Blair; Kootenay Columbia Teachers’ Union – Andy Davidoff; Kootenay Lake Teachers’ Association – Steve Anderson; Nelson District Teachers’ Union – Tom Newell