The latest reports from the Ministry of Education reveal that BC’s student population is on the increase, while the number of teachers continues to decline.
According to ministry statistics, in September 2010, public school enrolment grew by 2,595 full-time equivalent students over the previous year, while the number of teachers dropped by 283 full-time equivalents.
The new ministry figures also show that this year the total number of classes in BC schools dropped by 2,564 compared to last year. Fewer teachers mean larger, more complex classes with more students identified with special needs.
“Classroom conditions have continued to deteriorate this school year, as proven by these new ministry statistics,” said BCTF President Susan Lambert. “Teachers are calling on Premier-designate Christy Clark to make good on her promise of positive change for families by restoring, rather than cutting educational services.”
The introduction of full-day programs for half of the Kindergarten students in the province should have resulted in more teachers being hired to maintain the same level of educational service as in previous years, but this was not the case. A status quo provincial budget will only make things worse next September when all Kindergarten students will be in full-day programs, increasing the full-time equivalent number of students even further, Lambert warned.
Currently, the provincial budget for next year freezes total funding, except for $58 million for full-day Kindergarten. With the other cost drivers such as Hydro rates and MSP premiums continuing to increase, there will again be still fewer teachers to teach more students. Lambert urged the provincial government to use the contingency funds set aside in the February provincial budget to hire more teachers.
“If British Columbians want to maintain our public education system, which is one of the finest in the world, we have got to reinvest in the caring professionals who can meet the diverse needs of our growing student population,” Lambert said.