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The BC Teachers’ Federation relaunched its television advertising campaign today to raise awareness about issues facing BC’s public education system in the context of the government’s recent budget. BCTF President Irene Lanzinger said the “When Will They Learn?” campaign focuses on school closures, overcrowded classes, and the neglect of students with special needs.

“The Campbell government was trying to silence teachers and prevent them from speaking out about public education,” said Lanzinger. “Now, more than ever, teachers need to be speaking out and informing the public about the state of learning conditions for our students. The government’s latest budget froze education funding for 34 school districts across BC, even though fixed costs keep rising. The budget also ignored ongoing concerns about class size and support for children with special needs.”

Across the province, school districts are right now struggling with significant funding shortfalls. Boards are making decisions this month about the 2009-10 school year and what services they will cut. In Vancouver for example, the district is facing a more than $7 million shortfall. Saanich is short $3.6 million, and Vernon $2.5 million.

“As a result of this government’s latest budget, students, parents, and teachers should brace for more cuts when the 2009-10 school year begins,” said Lanzinger. “Communities are tired of underfunding, cutbacks, and closures. If the provincial government won’t learn, how will BC’s kids?”

The “When Will They Learn?” ads originally aired in January and February before the gag law’s spending limits began. The ads will run for the first two weeks of April until the actual campaign period begins and can be viewed at www.WhenWillTheyLearn.ca.

The television ad features the images of actual public schools closed across the province as well as several BC public school students. The text reads: “177 schools closed. 10,000 overcrowded classes. Special needs still neglected. Things are getting worse for BC students. When the provincial government won’t learn, how will our kids? They deserve better. This May, please remember our kids when you vote.”

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For more information, contact Rich Overgaard, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).