During last year's strike, Premier Christy Clark promised to make class composition her number one priority. However, statistics released today show there has been virtually no improvement. According to the government's own figures, there are 16,156 classes with four or more children with special needs.
"Christy Clark has broken her promise to BC students, parents, and teachers," said BCTF President Jim Iker. "Class composition in 2015 is the same as it was in 2014, which was the worst year on record.
"It's only because teachers took such a strong stand, and parents supported us, that the situation has not deteriorated even further. The $75-million Teacher Education Fund that we fought so hard for is the only reason class size and composition did not get even worse this year. Basically, school districts were able to hire back about 400 teachers they had been forced to lay off because of underfunding."
The data released by the Ministry of Education shows there now are 16,156 classes with four or more students with special needs, compared to 16,163 classes last year. In addition, a staggering 3,895 classes have seven or more children with special needs. In 2014, that number was 3,875.
The data also shows little progress has been made in terms of class composition and support for English Language Learners (ELL), formerly known as ESL students. There are 4,416 classes with seven or more English Language Learners this year, compared to 4,636 last year. Within that total are 2,073 Kindergarten to Grade 3 classes with seven or more English Language Learners. Last year, there were 1,956 such classes.
"Just imagine how much worse off students would be today if BC teachers had not had the courage and determination to walk the picket lines for five weeks," said Iker.
"Earlier this year, Education Minister Peter Fassbender said underfunding in education is a 'myth.' But the government's own data has now shown that the Minister is wrong and he is making it worse by forcing school districts to cut another $54 million over the next two years.
"If we are going to see meaningful improvements to public education, and in particular, class composition, the government must substantially increase funding now."
Click here to view the Class composition chart with statistics back to 2006.