Approaching the End of Public Education

Quoted from: Vista. Vista exists to acknowledge the multi-faceted nature of political opinion. We are economically and social left and right, sometimes mixing in the middle, finding common ground in some places and differing in others.

Unions–especially public sector unions–are a stain for advocates of neoliberal globalization efforts to maximize free markets, minimize government social programs and spending, and commodify the commons.

Unions posit that human beings–after a century and a half of human rights advances–deserve basic rights such as the right to collectively organize into unions to negotiate wages and working conditions…which are symbiotically learning conditions for students in the education “industry”.

Unions are dangerous threats to “global competitiveness” and the race to the bottom of wages, social legislation and regulatory efforts to protect people, culture and the environment.

Continue reading ‘Approaching the end of public education.’

More Info on BC Ministry of Ed one time funding

As the holiday descends, children and teaches leave school, more information continues to arrive regarding the one-time money being ‘given’ to schools and school districts as a result of money not spent on teachers’ salaries due to the October Strike.

Here are four additional pieces of information that might be of interest to those involved in school planning councils and/or parent advisory councils.

Spending plan notes circulated in Vancouver.

Spending plan template budget and sign off form.

Letter from Ministry of Education regarding district one-time funding.

Letter from Ministry of Ed regarding school-based one-time funding.

Increased funding for independent schools.

The Charter for Public Education Network urges public dialogue and consultation on increasing public funding for independent schools.

Vancouver, BC December 15, 2005: The Charter for Public Education Network (CPEN) advocates for free, universal, accessible, quality public education. While recognizing the right and responsibility of parents to ensure the best possible education for their children, CPEN expects government to be responsible for fully funding all aspects of a quality public education. We also expect that the public education system will provide all students with an education which is second to none.In British Columbia there has been a recent and dramatic increase in the provision of public funds to support private, independent schools, leading to increasing enrollments in those schools while public school enrollments are in decline. According to Ministry of Education Budget Information, Schedule A of the 2005/06 Estimates, public school operating grants will increase by only 4.8% between 2004-5 and 2007-8 while independent school grants will increase by more than 18.9% over the same period. Between 2002-03 and 2007-08 government documents show 34% more has been budgeted for independent school funding but only 5.8% more for public school funding. These figures are based on a 4% annual growth rate in independent school enrolments. Last year public school enrolments dropped in 54 out of 60 school districts. In the current year, more than 17% of school age children in Vancouver (School District #39) were enrolled in independent schools.

On September 18th, shortly after the budget estimates were announced, the government also announced new full funding for special needs students in independent schools, providing an additional $8.3 million to independent schools.

The combination of government funding to independent schools, publication of provincial assessments, the ranking of schools and the persistent under funding of public education is leading to a subtle but ongoing weakening of the public education system. By providing public funding to private schools, the government is subsidizing parents who already have the means to provide socio-economic support to their children and to give them an advantage in society. At the same time, the drift away from the public schools of children who enjoy these social advantages leads to an imbalance in social and economic demographics for neighborhood public schools and a potential downward spiral in assessment results for public schools. Funding of independent schools does not lead to “choice” for all. It is, however, consistent with the provision of a “two tiered” social system which is not supported by the majority of Canadians or British Columbians. CPEN encourages public dialogue on this and other issues consistent with the principles outlined in The Charter for Public Education.

Teachers’ Strike ‘Savings’ Distributed

From the Globe and Mail.

VANCOUVER — B.C. public schools and school districts combined will get $100 a student as part of the province’s distribution of the $126 million it saved during the teachers’ illegal (sic) strike in October.Of that money, Education Minister Shirley Bond said yesterday, $56 million will go to schools and school districts, with a one-time funding of $50 a student going to each.

The province will also give 34 of its 93 school districts $2-million to make up for lost school days with extra instructional time. The 34 districts had earlier asked for additional money to fund instruction during evenings, on Saturdays and on other days when school is not normally in session to make up for lessons lost during the strike.

The balance of the money saved will be dispersed, with $20-million going toward reducing class sizes, $40-million to the B.C. Teachers’ Federation’s long-term disability trust, and the remaining $8-million to fund programs such as the rural-schools strategy and the healthy-schools program.

The funding from the province means an additional $13,000 for Central Coast School District 49, one of the smallest in the province.

Superintendent Jerry Smit said the money will likely go toward augmenting existing resources.

“It isn’t a lot of money for our district, but any money helps,” Mr. Smit said yesterday. “The ministry has financed this small district relatively well despite our declining enrolment.”

The school district’s budget is $5.2-million and it’s responsible for just under 400 pupils in five schools, with three in the Bella Coola Valley and two on the more remote outer coast.

The first priority for districts in spending their $50 a student is textbooks and learning resources, while schools can decide their priorities for the $50 a head through consultation with staff, parents and school planning councils.

The strike cost students nine classroom days when the province’s 38,000 teachers walked out after the province imposed another two- year wage freeze.

The B.C. Supreme Court had ruled the strike illegal and fined the union $500,000 for ignoring a labour relations board ruling and court order telling them to return to the classrooms. Teachers eventually voted in favour of returning after mediator Vince Ready stepped in.

B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jinny Sims said the province should have given more money to schools. But she is pleased to see direct spending go to the districts and schools.

Schools and districts must submit their plans on how they’ll spend the money by Jan. 10, 2006.

Western Canada Labor Battles Show Need for Solidarity

Thirty-eight thousand public school teachers in British Columbia voted on October 23 by seventy-seven percent to end a sixteen-day strike that had brought the province to the brink of a general strike.

The teachers, members of the BC Teachers Federation, walked off the job on October 6. Bargaining for a new collective agreement was going nowhere. They were demanding a fifteen-percent pay raise over three years and the right to negotiate their conditions of work and the quality of the education services they provide. In particular, they wanted to restore the right to negotiate over classroom sizes. The latter had been steadily rising as a result of cuts to education funding.

Continue reading this story at Monthly Review MRZine