Quality education is largely about funding level

Local teacher disagrees with local principal's assessment of education challenges

Re: Exam-ining education in SD62 – Pt. 2: Show me the Money (Gazette, April 8)

When it comes to today’s challenges in public schools, the Sooke School District superintendent, the chair of the SD62 board of trustees and the president of the Sooke Teachers’ Association agree the B.C. government led by Christy Clark is underfunding public schools.

But Belmont principal Ray Miller seems to disagree: “To me it’s not about the money. It’s about intelligently designing systems so that they integrate together and are effective and efficient.”

There sure seems to be a disconnect happening.

I am perplexed by Mr. Miller’s statement. Is there an implication here that Belmont teachers are not working effectively or efficiently? After 13 years of nothing but budget cut after budget cut, and teachers being laid off, there is not much fat left to cut. We are now cutting into organs and bones.

I have taught at Belmont for 19 years and have witnessed firsthand the erosions to both staffing numbers and access to resources for our students. B.C. schools are underfunded. This is a fact. Students today are put into crowded classrooms where some get lost and fall through the cracks.

Students with special needs have less one-on-one teacher support and are also negatively affected. Computer labs are breaking down and not repaired. Textbooks are not replaced, so students are forced to share books.

The facts are shown in a box within the article: Alberta public education is funded at $10,111 per student per year, Ontario at $11,266 per student and B.C. at $8,654. You cannot squeeze blood from a stone.

Teachers need to be hired to restore the stripped services taken away illegally by the B.C. Liberals when they tore up the teachers’ contract. That takes money.

I disagree with Mr. Miller’s approach that, “You can complain all you want about the money, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get any more.” This government needs to be held to account. Our students are worth advocating for.

Perhaps the principals in this province need to join other groups like parents, teachers and trustees and start advocating and lobbying the government for more funding. Adequate educational funding should not be seen as a burden, but an investment for a future society.

Paul Waterlander, Victoria

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