||Volume 10, Number 1, September 1997|
Increase in Funding Supported
by Nancy Knickerbocker
Teachers, trustees, parents, and the public agree that funding for public education must be increased. Almost two-thirds of British Columbians polled last May believe that funding for schools is too low. Among those who have children attending public schools, a whopping 71% believe that current funding is insufficient.
In response to this broad-based concern, the BCTF is launching a major campaign to influence Victoria to increase support for our education system.
Federation President Kit Krieger told delegates to the summer conference that, instead of reacting to cuts after they have already been made, the new campaign aims to have an effect on the 1998–99 budget now, while it is in the process of being drafted.
Stressing that the current level of funding is inadequate to meet students’ needs, Krieger encouraged teachers throughout the province to support the campaign in a variety of constructive ways.
“We need to lobby our MLAs with focused, consistent messages,” he said. He encouraged local presidents and interested members to phone or (better still) to meet with their MLAs sometime between September 15th and 19th to discuss the urgent needs in our schools. The Federation’s Education Funding Brief offers useful tips and information to educate legislators about the issue.
Offering concrete examples of how insufficient funding has had a negative impact on students in local classrooms can effectively bring the message home, Krieger said.
As well, point out that the BCTF public opinion poll clearly shows that a strong majority of British Columbians believe our school system needs an infusion of new dollars.
Following the September lobbying efforts, the campaign will be furthered through the Advisory Council of Local Presidents, who will come together in October to work on a letter-writing campaign, and to develop district profiles and needs budgets.
Krieger suggested that members write urging a government review of targetted funding. The BCTF advocates that the government maintain the cap now placed on administrative spending, and ensure that instructional funds are targetted for instruction. In addition, the ministry ought to retain targetting for aboriginal and special education.
The Federation is also working to build allies among the 125,000 other public employees, and to strengthen our co-operative relations with CUPE. Krieger noted that he was pleased to learn that the B.C. School Trustees Association is similarly convinced that funding is too low, and is planning an advertising campaign to encourage increased support for education.
Nancy Knickerbocker is the BCTF’s Media Relations Officer.
Quick facts to teach your MLA
The BCTF’s latest public opinion survey offers a firm pat on the back for teachers. The excellent quality of the teaching staff was most often cited as the most positive aspect of schools in B.C.
- 64% of the public believe funding is too low.
- 71% of parents believe funding is too low.
- 1,470 more teachers would have to be hired to return to the student/educator levels of 1990–91.
- 78% believe class-size limits should be maintained.
- 62% believe businesses are not paying their fair share of education costs through taxes.
Cuts in the numbers of librarians and learning assistance teachers have meant a significant loss to schools.
Monitoring and accountability measures ought to be introduced to make sure that instructional budgets are not used to pay for administration.