Opinion

LETTER: Teachers are made out to be the villain

Editor:

“Families first”—easy to say, seemingly not so easy to fulfill.

As a mother to a young child in the public school system and a former special needs working at an East Vancouver school I am appalled to find that our tax dollars are subsidizing the private/independent school system at the rate it is, while clearly the public school system is falling apart.

I know some parents of children in private/independent schools will be angry (that is not my intention), arguing that they pay taxes and are entitled to tax dollars too.  A moot point, it is a choice to send your child to a private/independent school plus we all pay taxes whether we have children or not.  Here is what I have learned upon doing some research.

According to a report in the Tyee, during 1977, the government of the day decided to provide funding to private/independent schools, why? Vote buying. At the time of this decision there were only 156 private/independent schools, by 2012-13 the number of private/independent schools soared to 367. The funding for group 1 private/independent schools is 50 per cent of the public districts per student grants, while group 2 receives 35 per cent. In 2010-11 this amounted to $249 million. According to B.C. Teachers’ Federation estimates based on Ministry of Education numbers for the 2014 budget, the public system’s funding increased by 16.9 per cent between 2005 to present while the private/independent system’s funding increased by 45.6 per cent. Quite a discrepancy.

Now, I in no way am opposed to private/independent schools however I am opposed to the rate of funding they receive in light of the short comings of the public system.  The government has the power to make a change. The percentage of payment could be lowered to 35 per cent for group 1 private/independent schools, which would more than cover the $18 million short fall that the public system has to deal with. Teachers should not have to buy supplies with their own money because of a lack of funds, yet this happens all the time and has for years.

B.C. teachers are among the lowest paid teachers in all of Canada while having one of the highest costs of living. The government is making teachers out to be the villain. “Families first” is the mantra, put your money where your mouth is and prove it. Our province is abysmal at taking care of our children.

Our children will soon be adults and our government has shown them nothing but disrespect with cuts and inadequate funding to all kinds of programs including schools. Doesn’t bode well for the future of our society.

Judi Chalmer

Chilliwack

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