EDITORIAL: Clark’s comments met with disbelief

We’ve all had times when we say something stupid, or that we later regret for one reason or another.

We’ve all had times when we say something stupid, or that we later regret for one reason or another.

The usual thing to do is either apologize and move on, or at least pretend it never happened. Unless you’re the B.C. Liberal government; then you make it part of public policy.

On Friday, after a day of protests over funding cuts to the school system, Education Minister Peter Fassbender supported Premier Christy Clark’s earlier comment that school districts could simply slash “the low-hanging fruit” out of their budgets.

Clark’s comment, made as she delivered a provincial budget which asked the province’s school districts to come up with $29 million in cuts — while claiming to be increasing funding to education — was met with disbelief from school administrators, trustees and parents.

From their side, school boards across the province, including Okanagan Skaha, responded that there are no easy cuts left to make. That’s pretty much common sense, taking into account the last decade of cuts school districts have been making to balance budget shortfalls.

When you consider the number of people that turned out for a provincial day of protests against the cuts last Friday you have to wonder how Fassbender could continue to support Clark’s low-hanging fruit ideology by saying  that “there’s nothing to be gained by perpetuating a myth that our public education system is underfunded and broken.”

Over the years, local school districts have been able to accomplish amazing things even with  shrinking budgets, and will no doubt continue to do so. But that is not the same as saying they are adequately funded, or can cut any more out of their budgets without pain.

It’s time for the provincial government to stop trying to sell the line that they are increasing funding to the school system. The cuts at the grassroots level have been going on too long for that to be believable.


Penticton Western News