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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 6, April 2005

Pre-election smoke and mirrors

The Campbell government seems to have trouble with numbers. After inflicting overwhelming cuts on almost all services in government, on the eve of the election it is restoring a fraction of the cuts and hoping that partial restoration of funding is welcomed by voters. One of the latest examples is funding for special education.

On February 11, 2005, a news release from the Ministry of Education was headlined: Province to do more for students with special needs. It went on to say "The province will provide an additional $3.7 million as part of a plan to increase support for students with special needs." According to the release, government’s commitment in the throne speech was to increase funding for special education students by a projected $28 million next year to a total of nearly $260 million. There is one very big problem with the $260 million figure. On March 22, 1999, a Special Education Review Team was established. Its report is on the Ministry of Education’s web site. According to that report: "In 1999/2000 the Ministry of Education allocated $422,790,218 to special education. A preliminary review of the 1999–2000 school board preliminary budgets shows that $54,000,000 above the Ministry of Education target minimum has been budgeted for special education." In other words, after the recent government funding announcements are implemented, the amount of funding for special needs will have been cut by $162.79 million (38%). That makes the $3.7 million look rather small. Giving a few crumbs back after stealing the loaf may backfire on the Campbell government because it reminds voters of what was taken away.

Source: David Schreck, strategicthoughts.com