Start funding public education properly
Editor: I am writing in response to your April 12 article on Education Minister George Abbott’s visit to Langley schools, in which he appears to be showering the district with money for new school construction. Once again, the media is being used as free advertising in the government’s attempt to prove to the public that it cares about the public education system and how it is funded.
I find myself irritated with what plainly seems like a photo opportunity. In 2002, the Liberals removed $275 million from the education budget, and have done so every year since in order to fund their corporate tax cuts. This amounts to more than $3.3 billion removed from public education (in today’s dollars) in the last decade.
This year, things are even worse. When the new budget came out, the Liberals announced that the education budget is frozen for next year. Unfortunately, inflation is not frozen and the system requires more than $130 million just to keep up with inflation. The so-called Learning Improvement Fund offers $30 million.
School boards are going to have to make tough decisions, and school districts will have to make continued deep cuts to valuable programs to make up this shortfall.
Kids who need special services — think ESL, speech therapy, counseling, and help with math — will have an even harder time accessing these resources. They cannot be offered based on the needs of the child.
Lack of funding means that we compete for these services with others who need them. This government needs to stop congratulating itself, and start properly funding public education.