The Comptroller General’s report into the Vancouver School Board was a missed opportunity and showed the minister of education has refused to be accountable for underfunding the system and the role her government has played in BC’s education funding crisis, BCTF President Irene Lanzinger said today.
“Once again, Margaret MacDiarmid has refused to acknowledge the funding crisis her government has created,” said Lanzinger.
In her report, Comptroller General Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland stated: “Specifically excluded from our scope of work was the structure of the provincial funding model for education.”
“In trying to shift the blame, the minister of education prevented the Comptroller General from even assessing the provincial government’s funding decisions,” said Lanzinger. “This government and this minister of education are in complete denial about the education funding crisis and apparently they want to keep it that way. Why else would they prevent the Comptroller General from commenting on education funding in BC?”
Lanzinger said students in BC will face another round of devastating cuts in September. “School districts across the province, not just Vancouver, have significant shortfalls that will force them to make cuts,” said Lanzinger. “Those cuts will lead to larger classes, less support for children with special needs, more school closures, and hundreds of teachers will be laid off.”
Since 2001, 176 schools have closed in BC. In June, 33 more will close and another 24 are threatened with closure. On March 2, 2010, the government brought forward a new budget that actually froze funding for 33 of BC’s 60 school districts. In this school year, there were 12,000 classes that violated the government’s own class-size and class-composition legislation. That is up from 10,000 only two years ago.
Earlier this year, Arbitrator James Dorsey ruled on a series of grievances about class size and class composition. In his decision, he clearly pointed out how the provincial government is failing to fulfill its duties. He stated:
“If boards of education are not funded to enable them to fulfill their legislated responsibility and duty, then the funding provincial government must be accountable or the Legislative Assembly must expressly enact relief from the class-size and composition standards and explain to parents and teachers why the standards are no longer desirable or achievable.”