rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Mike Bernier: Stop downplaying the underfunding of B.C. public schools

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Dear Mike Bernier,
 
I write to you today regarding your recent comments about our public schools in B.C. and how you believe there are only a few small groups who believe there are funding issues. I have to say that I am both shocked and disheartened to know that they very person charged with overseeing our public schools can be so blind to the very obvious issues plaguing our public education system.
 
I would like to give you the benefit of the doubt, as I am assuming you have spent little to no time in any of our public schools since obtaining your new position as Minister of Education. Personally I feel as though it should be mandatory for someone in your position to spend a substantial amount of time visiting the schools for which you are responsible, which would help ensure that you are truly in touch with our education system and not simply following a pre-determined mandate of cuts and denial.
 
If you truly believe there are no funding issues in our public schools, then I assume you think it is the job of parents and PACs to raise upwards of $30,000 a year to supply basic necessities for their children's schools? Do you think a child's education should be absent of things like earthquake supplies, sports equipment, music equipment, sound systems for assemblies, basic classroom supplies, art supplies, recess equipment, sports equipment, sexual education, field trips, school planners or classroom books, since these things are now paid for by PAC fundraising? Do you think that funding students in B.C. $1000 less than the national average will offer them the best opportunities in their education?
 
I guess you also see no problem with deferring major and even basic maintenance to our children's schools like fixing leaky roofs, repairing boarded up unsafe playgrounds, and of course the larger, and much more concerning, seismic upgrades. Maybe you can explain to me how your government sees no issue holding upgrading funds hostage, as if our children's safety should only be ensured if their school's capacity is maximized? Or why a leaky roof would never be allowed to continue for 20 years in any government office, court house, hospital, any workplace or even a residence with children, but somehow when it is in a public school it is perfectly acceptable?

In my son's school district 40% of the schools are considered "beyond their useful life" and we have $97 million in deferred maintenance. Despite closing 14 schools since 2002 and making drastic cuts to services, teaching positions, programs and administration costs we still have issues securing funding for these much needed projects. And we are simply 1 out of 60 school districts in this province, a mere drop in the bucket.

So if there are no funding issues, can you please explain why all of these much needed upgrades and repairs are not being completed?

Also I feel that I should point out that it is more than just a few small groups that have expressed the need for better funding.

Of course we have BCTF that have spoken out for over a decade about the funding decreases. BCTF represents around 30,000 teachers, who all see first hand the devastating effects of funding cuts.

We have multiple trustees, entire school boards and even the BCSTA who have written letters expressing the need for better funding. Also, much like the letter written by my district's board, these letters are often signed and supported by multiple partner groups such as CUPE, BCSSA, bcpvpa, BCABSO, First Nations, DPACs and other parent and partner groups. 

PAC's and DPAC's have expressed concern over cuts to funding. In fact their have been numerous parent groups that have been created strictly to advocate for better funding for public education; FACE, PPEN and  PAN just to name a few. Other parents have started blogs like fixbced, written letters to media and government, started post card campaigns, created numerous Facebook groups, written articles and blog posts, started petitions, held rallies, held pots and pan marches, spoken to media, met with MLAs. Members of FACE even presented at the provincial budget consultations. There are thousands of parents in this province who have expressed concern for their children's education due to funding cuts in some form or another.

For you to simply brush off all of these concerns and efforts from not only multiple parents and parent groups, but also from every group that works in or around our public schools, is rather ignorant and shows a brazen disregard for the position you hold in this province.

Please consider visiting some public schools, talking to students, teachers and staff and understanding the very real issues our public schools are facing everyday.

Sincerely,

Sarah Miller

Concerned parent, independant blogger and FACE organizer.

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.