As much as I completely agree with the sad state our public schools are in, I cannot entirely agree with the article (Class sizes among the highest in BC, Feb. 26) as it was published and presented.
Mr. Mills, the reporter, chose to outline and describe where Mission Public School District (MPSD) ranks in terms of classsize averages. That’s all fine and dandy and I’m sure the numbers are legit, but what the article fails to mention is the reason MPSD is in such a state. And this is because of the actions of the Liberal government over the last 15 years.
The Liberal government took office in 2001. Shortly thereafter, Premier Gordon Campbell, who had, prior to being elected, stated that he would not rip up previously negotiated contracts, went in to the teachers collective agreement (contract) and literally, unilaterally, removed any language regulating class size and composition. He removed that language entirely, therefore removing any limits and rules that school districts had to adhere to when setting class-size limits and compositions (numbers of special needs students per class).
This action alone basically opened the floodgates of classrooms.
Once Campbell removed the language, the Liberals have continued to underfund public education to this day. Today, BC students, including Mission students, are funded $1,000 less than the national average. In 2014, BC had the second lowest per-student funding in the country. We were better than Prince Edward Island.
The reason this is important is because over the past decade, chronic underfunding and downloading of costs on to school districts by this government has forced school boards to cut costs as much as possible. They don’t have a choice. They can only work with the money they are given by the provincial government. And the easiest way to cut costs? Cram as many kids into classrooms as possible, cutting down on wages and salaries of teachers and support staff, as well as reducing maintenance and upkeep of buildings (school closures come to mind).
Christy Clark and her government continue to underfund education and not make public education a priority. All these actions and decisions by the Liberal government were ignored in the article but must be stated and shared with readers.