By Mike Zlotnik and George Davison
A letter to the editor of the Vancouver Sun that didn't make it!
(Re: Laura Jones’ piece in the January 26 edition of the Sun)
There has been a huge shift in the cost of post-secondary education from the public sector to families and this means that many young people who graduate incur thousands of dollars in debt (BC Ministry of Finance says an average of $33,000). And it isn’t just young people and their families who are carrying the burden but many parents of young children are prevented from getting the education that a more long-sighted public sector commitment to public education would have provided (new tuition for adult education and English as an Additional Language is $1600 per term). At the K-12 level, we are seeing cutbacks in staffing and resources, with libraries, gyms and music rooms not counted as space! We are seeing a narrowing of the curriculum, with less access to art, music and sport for many kids; or, just as bad, huge charges for specialty programs. If the compromising of our children’s intellectual and cultural development isn’t enough, their very physical safety is bargained away when seismic upgrading of schools is used to reach arbitrary enrolment targets. And we are seeing families burdened by fees and fundraising that should have been covered through taxes paid by all citizens.
So, this government is shortchanging the children and young people of British Columbia with its narrow policies for funding public education. If British Columbia stays on the present course, many thousands of kids today will be paying the costs financially, educationally and economically as they enter adulthood because of the present short-sighted policies of the British Columbia government. Moreover, the whole province will be deprived of the democratic, economic and cultural benefits of the education system we could have offered but did not because the government listened to special interest groups like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Happy Family Day, everyone!
Welcome to the PENS Blog on public education! Our bloggers include parents, teachers, education researchers, and other strong supporters of public education in BC and in Canada. Taking the lead is Bill Bruneau, Professor Emeritus UBC, ex-Vancouver School Board trustee, ex-President of his faculty association, and ex-president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.