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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 16, Number 4, March 2004

Per-pupil funding continues downward

Real per-student funding for public education in B.C., dropping in the past three years, is now at its lowest level in more than 15 years. Despite contrary claims by the former education minister, the province is not giving school boards enough money to meet cost increases. The result? School closures, larger class sizes, and lost funds for special needs.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), in "Who’s Cutting Classes?

Untangling the Spin about K–12 Education in B.C.," examines education financing in B.C. since the early 1990s. The study shows that after inflation, per-student education funding declined through most of the 1990s, increased for a few years toward the end of the decade, and has been falling ever since.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the state of education financing, says Marc Lee, author of the study and an economist with the CCPA. Parents, students, and teachers know that all is not well, and yet we’re told by the former education minister that any fault for cutbacks lies with the school boards, that the province is spending more than ever on K–12, and that per-student funding is rising. It simply doesn’t add up.

Lee says that while Christy Clark, the former education minister, is technically correct when she said total dollars spent on public education have risen under her government, the increase has not kept pace with the increased costs of providing education even with the recent decline in student enrolment. As a result, school boards have had to make cuts.

Lee says the education minister should stop playing with the numbers and pointing the finger at school boards. We need a $300 million boost to the education budget in 2004 to return to 1990 real funding levels. We shouldn’t be short-changing B.C.’s students, the province’s young citizens and future workforce.

"Who’s Cutting Classes? Untangling the Spin about K–12 Education in B.C." is available from the CCPA: www.policyalternatives.ca.

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