The Speech from the Throne delivered in Victoria yesterday afternoon confirms that the government is out of touch with the reality in BC public schools.
“There’s nothing in this speech that acknowledges the realities in our schools. For example, how can the government claim that average class sizes are down when thousands of students are still sitting in oversized classes?” says Irene Lanzinger, president of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation. “This year 3,179 classes still have 30 or more students, only 63 fewer class rooms than last year.”
The number of classes in 2007–08 with four or more students with special needs also grew—almost 8% over 2006–07. According to the ministry’s own figures 10,313 classes had four or more students with special needs, compared to 9,599 in 2006–07. In 2007–08, school boards have either closed or threatened to close neighbourhood schools in record numbers. Since 2002, 150 schools have closed in British Columbia causing upheaval in the lives of students and their families.
“The government claims that parents have more choice in public education,” says Lanzinger. “The reality is that parents face more and more impossible choices when their neighbourhood school closes, when they seek services for their child with special needs, or advocate for smaller classes. The reality is that students are still waiting for the support they deserve.”
Lanzinger notes that the per-pupil funding in 2006–07 was $38 less than in 2002 and $200 less than in 1990, yet the government claims that “funding is up at record levels.”
“There is nothing in this throne speech that acknowledges the underfunding and unpredictable funding of public schools,” says Lanzinger. “This government needs to focus on the realities in our communities and live up to the promises it made to BC students.”