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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 1, September 2004

Blame school boards, government says

On March 3, 2002, Vancouver Province columnist Michael Smyth revealed a secret cabinet document explaining the reason the government was changing the funding formula for public schools. He wrote,

"Despite their election promise to ‘protect’ education spending, the Liberals are actually cutting funding to many B.C. school districts.

"And the Liberals want to shift the blame for underfunding schools away from themselves and on to locally elected school boards."

The Cabinet Decision Document was signed by then education minister Christy Clark and marked CONFIDENTIAL.

The document explored the advantages and disadvantages of keeping the old funding formula or changing to the new system of per-pupil funding. The old system had a clear disadvantage, according to the cabinet paper.

"The province will be seen as responsible for funding all costs. With overall flat funding and rising costs, this option would require the minister to decide annually which programs and services should be cut throughout the province."

The current minister of education is obviously reading the same script. He is claiming that education funding has increased while ignoring the significant costs his government has downloaded on school boards. Like his predecessor, he is blaming school boards for increasing class sizes and closing schools.

– Peter Owens

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