Guest Comment: An Appalled Parent Comments on the Lack of Schools at UBC

The following comment is from an exasperated parent who is tired of waiting for action on the school front at UBC/UEL in Vancouver. They have asked that this be posted anonymously.

Let me express my absolute appall at having seen our VSB Trustees all these years being complicit in allowing, maintaining and exacerbating the current blatantly regressive wealth transfer from one of the poorest census regions in our city towards the incredibly privileged and wealthy families east of Blanca St.

It is hard to believe that VSB Trustees that call themselves “progressive”, that think of themselves as defending the disenfranchised and less privileged, and that claim they’re working for all children in the district, can at the very same time allow this shameful regressive wealth transfer.
Allow me to document my claims with official and publicly available statistics (all 2006 census data from Statistics Canada).

The median income in the UBC/UEL area in 2005 for couple households with children in the different regions targeted by the EFR was:

– UBC/UEL: $49,388
– Dunbar: $134,852 (16th to 29th, Pacific Spirit to Blenheim)
– West Point Grey (West) $142,354 (8th to 16th, Blanca to Discovery)
– West Point Grey (East): $151,097 (8th to 16th, Discovery to Alma)
– West Point Grey (North): $156,205 (North of 8th, UEL to Alma St)

– *our families* are the ones paying out of our own after-tax income to ship over 200 kids miles away from home every day;
– *our working parents* are the ones taking time from work to travel considerable distances to bring our kids to their out-of-catchment schools;
– it is *our community* and *our children* the ones paying the social cost of having our children detached from our neighbours and neighbourhoods;
– It is *our lucky kids* that can stay in our local school the ones who have to attend classes with over 30 kids (constantly reaching the maximum allowed by the District) in elementary school, and have to fight for room in the lunchroom, bathroom, gym and the rest of the severely overcrowded facilities.

And we do this so that:
– a few children of some of the most wealthy families in town don’t have to walk about 8 extra blocks (!!) to attend their local schools; and
– these few children can have class sizes well below the district average.

The hardship that you, your fellow trustees, and the VSB, have imposed (and seem willing to continue imposing) on our poor and under-privileged families and their children is beyond “unfair”. For many years now, the school board and its trustees have (by action or inaction) been making the poor subsidize the privileged. In one of the wealthiest cities on Earth. In Canada. In 2008.

It is high time you put an end to it.

As the EFR plan documents, all this could start to change if the few in-catchment students attending the satellite QEA are absorbed by QE and JQ. We all know that most of the other students filling QEA, QE and JQ are coming from UBC/UEL. There’s more than plenty of room in the catchment schools to accommodate the in-catchment children east of Blanca Street. These schools will still operate in ideal conditions and
well under capacity. However this will also make the life of hundreds of poor and under-privileged families and children much much easier.

Personally, I don’t like this plan any more or less than selling the VSB Broadway building, say. But you, your fellow trustees and the VSB have, for the last 5 years, failed to give us any option. All things considered, we’ll take the EFR plan.

Our children can’t afford to wait any longer. I hope that on June 19 our trustees finally find the courage to give our under-privileged children the schools they need and deserve.