As the government announced the return of a $25 million cut it placed on school districts, BCTF President Jim Iker praised teachers, students, parents, and school trustees who have spoken out and campaigned for months to convince this government to address BC's education funding crisis. Iker said he appreciates the announcement and it shows the government is listening to the building public pressure.
“Public advocacy clearly works,” said Iker. “The return of this $25 million cut is an important turning point for public education as it shows the government is feeling the pressure one year out from a provincial election. While the returned funding will not solve the funding crisis facing our schools, it will bring some much needed relief. Parents, students, teachers, and trustees need to keep the pressure up.”
The $25 million returned to school districts in today's announcement originates from the 2015 budget when the government announced a plan to force school districts to cut $29 million in 2015, and a further $25 million in 2016. The target of these cuts was “administrative savings,” but the result has been more school closures, fewer education assistants, cuts to specialist teachers, and reduced school bus service.
“I think folks in the school system will feel some relief today,” said Iker. “While we are appreciative that the government is making this move, it should never have happened in the first place. It's incumbent upon teachers, parent groups, and school trustees to keep reaching out to government MLAs to ensure they understand the depth of the crisis, and commit to taking more action.”
Iker pointed to two examples where the government can find more money for public education; reversing 2015's tax cut to BC's wealthiest and reducing or eliminating altogether the funding flowing to private schools in BC.
“In 2015, the government gave BC's wealthiest few a tax cut worth over $200 million. In 2016, private school funding hit an all-time high of $358 million, including subsidies for elite prep schools. BC's richest residents don't need tax breaks and private school giveaways at the expense of public education. It's time for the government to reinvest in public schools.”