Trustees asked to speak out for education

Helmer points to government spending while education budget stagnates

To the editor:

This is an open letter to School District #27 trustees.

I realize you find yourself in a rather helpless position as the recent provincial issues have unfolded, but as trustees, you do hold positions of influence.

I am convinced you try to balance the budget in a manner that provides the best educational services you can with the funds provided, but I am also certain the days are long gone when budgets can be balanced without impacting the quality of educational services to kids.

You can believe the government when it says there is no more money for public education, or you can give them reasons to find it.

That money exists. It is the $3.3 billion for the Port Mann bridge; the $3 billion for the Olympic Games; the $2 billion for the SkyTrain Canada Line; the $1.3 billion for the South Fraser Perimeter Road; the $900 million for the Vancouver Convention Centre, the $900 million for the Sea To Sky Highway; the $800 million Golden Ears Bridge; and the $500 million for the BC Place roof.

That’s $12.7 billions, all in the last seven years, while the education budget stagnated.

The new budget is virtually unchanged again, with no additional money for hydro rate increases and inflation, necessitating even more cuts.

You can tell the government that education does need more funding, and their priorities need to change to value education more.

Your voice will also be heard by beleaguered teachers who feel they are the only ones speaking up for our kids.

These issues may not have changed in the last decade, but the teaching profession has. Our calls for improvements in the system are met with scorn and disdain in the media, and morale is at an all-time low.

For many of those new to the profession, teaching is just a job until something better comes along, and no longer a career path. Your input can change that, and I hope you will add your voice to ensure kids’ needs are met here and around the province.

Murray Helmer, president

Cariboo-Chilcotin Teachers’ Association