I am responding to a letter from Janice Cashin (Record, April 23).
Ms. Cashin exhorts teachers to do their research before they vote and I echo these sentiments and encourage anyone who cares about our public education system to do the same.
Don McRae and the Liberals must stand on their record in office and all voters should examine this record carefully as it relates to public education before they vote on May 14.
Ms. Cashin states that the Liberals have “worked tirelessly” to balance the needs of educators with the reality of financial needs,” but a closer look at their record as evidenced through Statistics Canada shows a different view.
Since the Liberals came into office in 2002, we have seen dramatic cuts to public education spending far in excess of the need to balance budgets or which reflect economic pressures.
Today, there are 286 fewer teacher-librarians in the schools of B.C., 120 fewer counsellors and 770 fewer Special Education teachers. Per-student funding in B.C. is $988 per child lower than the national average and our student-to-teacher ratio is so high that we would need to hire 6,600 more teachers in the province just to reach the national average.
Can you imagine what our schools would look like with almost $1,000 more per student in funding? How many more resources could we provide to support students who struggle? How much more could we enrich the learning for all students?
Can you imagine your child’s school with four more teachers and a teacher-librarian? (There are no teacher-librarians in Comox Valley elementary schools.)
This is what it would be like just if we had an average public education system similar to that of other provinces.
Ms. Cashin might have you think that the Liberals have made these dramatic cuts to education funding to help deal with economic pressures but while B.C. has been cutting during the recent years of recession, other provinces have continued to spend on their students.
In fact, according again to StatsCan (2013) sources, B.C. is the only province in Canada that has reduced the number of FTE (full-time equivalent) educators during the period from 2006-2011.
Increases in percentage of educators range in Saskatchewan (up 4.3 per cent), Ontario (up 5.6 per cent), Alberta (up 8.0 per cent), PEI (up 14.7 per cent), while B.C. is the only province to reduce the number (down 3.7 per cent).
How will the children of our province be able to compete in a global economy when they are the only ones in Canada whose education funding is being cut and the only ones who are receiving less support and less help when they struggle?
Do the research, and you will see that philosophical decisions made by the Liberal government, and not economic ones, have driven down the quality of our public education system and it is long past time for a change.
There has been no attempt “to balance the needs of educators” as Ms. Cashin states, and our teachers are the ones working “tirelessly” to help their students despite the ravages of a decade of cuts to public education funding.
“Do the math”, as Ms. Cashin says, and you can only reach one conclusion if you care about public education.
Editor’s note: Shirley Miller is the Comox District Teachers’ Association’s executive secretary.