Put funding back into our public schools

Photo Credit: Phoebe Lim

This past spring, the BC Liberal government announced that there will be more cuts coming to a public school near you. As the summer heat continues to rise and productivity levels continue to drop, I cannot stress enough the importance of being mindful of this issue, especially with students returning to school in a very short couple of months.

Despite the fact that public schools have seen unprecedented cutbacks in recent years, the budget that was released this past February forces school trustees to cut another $137 million from their spending over the next three years.

Meanwhile, private schools in BC over the next three years will receive an additional $54 million in government funding. This means that private schools now receive up to  50 per cent of the funding that public schools receive per student.

The fact that our province can find additional funds for private schools before their public counterparts is completely backwards. It is neither the province’s job nor the taxpayers’ to fund private education. Public funds need to be used for public resources and services — it’s as simple as that.

The BC Liberals hide behind the notion that strong private schools give working families in BC a ‘choice,’ an idea riddled with falsities and contradictions. The reality is very few families can afford to send their child to a private school and no amount of public funds will be able to dissolve the high ticket price of a private education.

For example, St. George’s private school, the school that BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark’s son attends, charges over $21,000 in tuition a year to all their high school students.

The reality is very few families can afford to send their child to a private school.

Public schools deserve the funding that’s being allocated to the private schools. After all, public schools foster inclusive environments, where students from all socioeconomic backgrounds and who face a variety of learning strengths and weakness come together to form a class.

They do not turn away students very often, and they incorporate the needs of all their pupils. Due to this, public schools need proper funding from the government for proper resources and well-equipped staff and teachers. The same cannot be said about private schools that hand pick their students.

All the BC Liberals have done is create a stronger system for the rich, and a weaker one for working families. It is the government’s job to protect public schools first; they are the base of any functional society and without the proper funding and support, they will collapse and bring our great province down with them.

Growing up in BC, I saw firsthand how devastated our public schools are — they have been stripped to the bone in terms of financial support. Now, being out of the system for several years, I see that what the government is trying to do is starve teachers and school staff out of their position to negotiate fair wages, classroom size and composition, and proper funding.

The BC Liberals will keep the cuts coming and wait for public education collapse in order to move ahead with their own privatization agenda. This can and should be considered a war on public education waged by our own provincial government.