Thank you all for showing up to defend public education today! Please sign the contact sheet so we can get in touch for further actions – Today is not the end of this!
I ran for election as a school trustee to have an elected public voice to defend our public schools from privatization and underfunding. What is happening to public education here in BC is part of a much bigger picture – a political agenda that actually supports and furthers inequality – public service is bad and private fee-for-service is good.
Teachers in public schools have been targeted by an ongoing onslaught of surprise Bills that have attacked public education since 2001, and Bill 11, the most recent, attacks on many fronts. It increases the ease with which the Minister of Education can autocratically fire democratically elected school boards if we don’t agree with all his demands. (He can already fire us if we don’t comply with submitting a balanced budget, whatever it takes.) And If this provincial government can do this with elected trustees, who will be targeted next?
Clearly the current provincial government’s plan is to starve and underfund public schools while offloading costs of filling the funding gap to school boards to somehow manage, and to parents, who do heroic work in fundraising to get fine arts in schools, to get needed equipment in schools, to have playgrounds – parents have to buy playground equipment and then fundraise to have it installed! That’s outrageous! And meanwhile the Ministry of Education increases the amount of your public tax dollars diverted to subsidize private schools – increased again by $30 million this year.
In my role as School Trustee, I visit as many school Parent Advisory Councils as I can get to, and attended a PAC meeting last week. As in all PACs, the energy and creativity –and sometimes the exhaustion – is astounding in terms of fundraising and the ongoing looking into opportunities to increase funds brought in. But the thing is, you shouldn’t have to look. If the corporate tax rate were now what it was in 2001, this province would have the needed money to put into classrooms so you wouldn’t have to spend your time selling scrap metal to keep your child’s school above a subsistence level! No child’s education should depend on how much their parents can fundraise.
SD61 Trustees will soon develop a needs budget to send in to the Ministry of Education along with our compliance budget this year. It will come in at about $5 million extra needed just for this year, to add teachers to cope with the increasing need for special education teacher support for students, and to partially replace other specialist teachers lost over the years to cutbacks.
If SD61 Trustees were to submit a restoration budget, which the Board has done in the past, it would reflect $300 + million taken from every aspect of public education every year since 2001. It would reflect restoration of a total of about $3 billion taken from public education over ten years via illegally stripping teachers’ contracts and by other underfunding .
I look forward to Justice Griffin’s 2014 ruling coming out of the BC Court of Appeal very soon, to see the stripped provisions in teacher contracts restored, which will mean restored service for students.
As a former special education teacher in SD61 for 22 years and a CUPE education assistant for ten years before that, I saw teachers significantly stressed because they could not do the job the IEP said they were supposed to do as they tried to meet all the needs of all students in the class size and composition situation presented in so many classes now, and education assistants beyond stress, shaking with the stress of being stretched too thin because they were responsible for two or three or more students with high and very varied demands for support , sometimes all at the same time.
I say to Mr. Fassbender, you try it.
I left teaching in 2011, and I know the stressors for parents, students, support workers and teachers haven’t lessened. The Ministry of Education can fire me if my colleagues and I don’t comply with his demands. But he can’t fire you, the parents.
I look forward to building on the energy we have here today – for kids entering our classrooms in the future, and for the students who are in them right now.
Facts About BC Education Funding [compiled by Bruce McCloy]
- BC falls behind in K-12 funding as a % of GDP Total expenditures in public elementary and secondary schools as a percentage of the GDP BC as a percentage of GDP 3.3% Canadian average 3.6%
Source: Statistics Canada (2010)
- BC falls further behind Canada in per student funding (operating expenditures per FTE student) 2010-2011 ($988.00 below the national average Source: Statistics Canada (2013)
- Most provinces hired more teachers / BC lost 3.7% lowest in Canada – PEI hired the most 14.7% Source: Statistics Canada (2013)
- BC has the worst student –educator ratio in Canada /BC average in 2011 16.8 students per teacher /Canadian average 13.8 students per teacher
Source: Statistics Canada (2010)
- If our BC funding met the national average we would have: 6,600 more teachers in our classrooms this year / On average four more teachers per school
- Loss of
– 286 librarians
– 120 counselors
– 770 special education teachers
– 342 English Language Learner Teachers
– 11 Aboriginal Education teachers
Source: BC Ministry of Education Staff by Year and Program Code 2002, 2012
- Increase in classes with four or more designated student with special needs
– 2007: 9559 / 2012: 12, 651 Source: BC Ministry of Education Overview of Class Size and Composition in BC Schools
- BC is last or next to last in Canada in the following key measures
– Operating expenditures 12th
– Operating expenditures per student 13th
– Total expenditures 12th
– Total expenditures per student 12th
– Total expenditures per capita 12th
Source: Statistics Canada (2013)
- BC spends much less that the national average on our public school children: Between 2008 and 2012 Board Operating Expenditures on public schools increased by 13.8% in Canada and only 3.4% in BC – if funding in BC had been at the Canadian average there would be an additional $493 Million in education funding this year Source: Statistics Canada (2010)
- BC far behind expenditures of other Western Provinces: Board operating Expenditures for public schools – increased 24.7% in Alberta, 22.1% in Saskatchewan, 15.7% in Manitoba and 3.4% in BC Source: Statistics Canada (2010)
- Education funding not keeping up with inflation: According to the Conference Board of Canada BC caps education (K-12 and post secondary) spending increases to 0.6% per year between now and 2017 estimates BC needs to increase education spending by 2.7 % per year or 1.6 billion over three years to maintain inflation adjusted funding per student Source: Vancouver Sun August 7, 2014
- Downloaded costs are increasing what School Districts need to pay: General inflation on supplies and services / Increased Medical Services Premiums / Increased BC Hydro Rates / Unfunded salary increments for employees moving up on grid / Increases to employer contributions for payroll benefits, health / dental benefits and employee pension plans / 3.5% salary increase for support staff (2013-2014) / Totalling 192.7 million in cost pressures in 2014-2015 (source: BC Association of School Business Officials) Source: Ministry of Education Estimates 2014-2015
- The public is saying to spend more on K-12 and post secondary and if necessary raise taxes to do so: What did the public say about increased funding to public education? 71% chose to increase revenue through taxes / 72% selected K-12 and post secondary education as a first priority / Source: Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services