Time to get it done, Mike. Our kids have waited long enough for adequate education funding.

An Open Letter to Finance Minister Mike De Jong

Dear Mike,

I’m sure you and the staff at the Ministry of Finance are busy preparing BC’s 2015 Budget. While you’re all working on it we thought a gentle reminder is in order. Think of it as a suggested new year’s resolution.

“Adopt the K-12 education recommendations of the Report on the 2015 Budget Consultations and increase K-12 education funding.”

We all know the committee made similar recommendations last year and you ignored them. But this year it’s different. There was a strike. Parents now know about the underfunding of our schools. Continue reading Time to get it done, Mike. Our kids have waited long enough for adequate education funding.

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Speak up for BC public education funding. MLA offers a how-to workshop.

It’s time for parents to speak up for our kids’ public education and it’s funding.

Over the last few weeks we’ve seen parents speaking out online about a lack of textbooks, overcrowded and under-maintained schools. We’ve heard about unsafe and out-of-date shop classes. We’ve heard about special needs kids going without assessment and without services. We’ve heard of libraries without librarians or the funds to replace or buy new books. The list just goes on…

Government needs to know hear these things directly and on the record — not just through their monitoring of social media. We urge you to present your views to our MLAs and your government through the BC Legislature’s 2015 Budget Consultations.

It’s OK to admit that you’re nervous. And it’s OK to ask for help presenting your arguments. Preparing your ideas and turning them into a letter, video or presentation can seem daunting. There is help!

Sue Hammell, the MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers has stepped up to offer assistance. On October 14, she is offering a workshop for parents on presenting to the Select Standing Committee on Finance.

Speak Up for Public Education: present to the finance committee
Date and time:
Tuesday, September 14 at 6pm
Location: 100 – 9030 King George Boulevard, Surrey
To register: email sue.hammell.mla@leg.bc.ca or call 604.590.5868

Guest speakers:
Charlene Dobie, Surrey School Board Trustee
Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake and Education Critic
Helesia Luke, Researcher Continue reading Speak up for BC public education funding. MLA offers a how-to workshop.

Textbooks are a basic part of school. BC just “can’t” afford them.

Textbooks. They seem like a pretty basic part of school. Many of us have memories of being handed these tomes each September and returning them in June. Along with school nurses, full-time counsellors in each school and the daytime custodian, this fixture is a thing of the past for many schools.

It seems our province and our schools are “too poor” to afford enough textbooks for each student in each class. They are not in the “affordability zone” for our kids, like they were for us. Continue reading Textbooks are a basic part of school. BC just “can’t” afford them.

Shop class: learning skills should not involve kids risking life and limb.

If you listen to the BC government the future of employment is in skilled trades. They make announcements about training and including more industrial education in our schools. The television ads and photo ops for politicians are nice. But it’s where the rubber hits the road in the classroom that matters.

And like the rest of BC’s public education system, technical education — AKA shop class — is woefully underfunded. Continue reading Shop class: learning skills should not involve kids risking life and limb.

Your kid won’t be at the school library today.

School districts around BC have been cutting teacher-librarians to balance their budgets. This spring some school boards proposed cutting ALL teacher-librarian staffing. In some districts that’s already happened. In other cases these cuts were reduced to providing half-time school librarian services.

Half-time teacher-librarians. That means libraries open half the time (or staffed by clerks solely trained to check out resources). That’s less teaching time for classes in the library and no time for teacher-librarians to encourage, instruct and meet students’ individual learning needs. Continue reading Your kid won’t be at the school library today.

Peter. We have a question.

As the Minister of Education, it seems Peter Fassbender demands that school boards return all funding that had been allocated for the operation of schools that were closed during the strike. Continue reading Peter. We have a question.

Special needs assessments. More than a math problem.

A school has 30 kids on the wait list for special needs assessments.
Only three can be assessed each year.
By grade 7, how many kids will still not be assessed?

It’s not a trick question. It’s the hard reality of the multi-year wait lists facing parents who can’t pay for private psycho-educational assessments for their kids. And without an assessment, there’s no funding or support for your kid in the classroom. Continue reading Special needs assessments. More than a math problem.