As the provincial election date looms closer and closer, what are the biggest concerns of voters?
For parents, teachers and anyone who cares about the future of the province, our public education system should be high on their list of important election issues.
After 12 years of Liberal governments, the current state of the public education funding in this province is dismal as seen through evidence available from Statistics Canada.
From 2006-2011, British Columbia was the lowest among all of the provinces in the percentage of increases in per student funding, in operating expenditures and in total expenditures per capita for elementary and secondary schools.
Over the past five years, funding for schools in B.C. has consistently lagged behind that of every other province and in 2010-11, our schools were funded at a level 4.7 per cent below the national average. This equates to nearly $1,000 less funding for every student in B.C. compared to what children receive in every other province of the country.
The funding levels this year seem particularly troublesome for nearly every school board in B.C., as we are hearing of severe cuts to programs and services required for these boards as they strive to meet the budgetary limits imposed on them by government.
Perhaps over a decade of cuts coupled with government-imposed increases to MSP premiums, carbon-offset fees and so on have finally left our system at the point where there is nothing left to cut?
Do our children deserve to be short-changed in the quality of education available for them? Will they have the skills, knowledge and attitudes that will allow them to compete successfully in a global economy? Will they receive the nurturing, safe and caring attention they need in a world that is becoming increasing violent?
Our teachers and school principals are working hard to ensure that the school system continues to function, but for how much longer can this continue?
Don’t merely listen to the political rhetoric as the election approaches. Consider the Liberal record and think about what type of school system you want for our children and the future leaders of this province before you cast your ballot.
Our children need and deserve better.
Editor’s note: Steve stanley is the president of the Comox District Teachers’ Association.