The new education funding formula announced today will compel small “have-not” school districts to compete with large “have” districts for their share of scarce resources.
BCTF President Susan Lambert said that the key words in the government’s announcement are all ones teachers would fully support: “more equitable, stable, sustainable education funding” based on “the principles of equity, predictability, stability, flexibility, and transparency.”
“However,” Lambert noted, “the principle of adequacy of funding is totally overlooked.” She pointed out that the increase in the education budget for 2012/13 over 2011/12 is a paltry $3 million out of a total of $4.724 billion. “Three million dollars is less than one tenth of one percent of the total. In fact it’s 0.06%, at a time when inflation is running at close to 3%,” Lambert said.
By contrast, she said, since 2002 the Liberals have been able to cut $330 million a year (in current dollars) out of the education budget by stripping teachers’ collective agreement of class-size limits and guarantees of services to students with special needs. The new funding formula doesn’t address these issues in any way, she noted.
Teachers welcome the announced increase for the CommunityLINK program, which funds school meal programs and other supports for vulnerable children, but are concerned it will only provide a band aid when much more holistic solutions are needed.
“This move reflects the depth of poverty among our students and the urgency of need across BC, which has had the highest rate of child poverty in Canada for eight years in a row,” Lambert said. “Children and families need the BC Liberals to get going on a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, with legislated targets and timelines.”
Speaking today at the BC School Trustees Association conference in Vancouver, Education Minister George Abbott conceded, that indeed “there will be winners and losers” in the new education funding formula.
“If some children are winners and others are losers, what has happened to the principle of equity?” Lambert asked. “Teachers believe that every child should have an equal right to quality public education, and our public policies should ensure that equity, not reinforce inequity.”