The following is an open letter to Comox Valley MLA Don McRae:
The budget our government announced last week and its effects on British Columbia’s public education are offensive. As a teacher in B.C. for over 15 years and with three children in elementary school, I have seen first-hand the impacts of years of cuts on our education system. Your facts are misleading and prevent the public from understanding how our government is choosing to use our public funds.
What you are calling increased funding to education covers only the costs associated with the negotiated teachers’ settlement reached last September. It does not cover the four per cent rise in MSP premiums, nor does it cover inflation and other fixed costs, let alone address funding shortfalls that boards were already facing.
School boards, which have faced year after year of gruelling cuts, are required to cut another $29 million this year from their budgets that are already cut to the bone (past the bone, in many cases) and another $25 million next year.
Funding to independent schools is increasing this year by $30 million, the same amount that public school boards are being forced to cut, and will continue to increase next year.
Our local private school has an aid in every class and smaller class sizes. I had two students in my class with designations that would have given them 25 hours of aid time. This year they were given 14 hours each. There is no way we could meet their needs. One student left in January for a private institution. This seems to be part of your plan.
You are forcing these cuts on our children’s education system at the same time that you are trumpeting an $800 million surplus and giving high income earners a $200 million tax break. Given these facts, it is logical to reach the conclusion that our government simply does not care about children in the public school system, the majority of our children.
Our government (including you) is paid to take into consideration the needs of all our children, not just for the rich and privileged. Once again I ask you to stand up for what is in the best interest of our children. Sincerely,