MLA Report: Private schools came out ahead in latest budget

The fight for quality public education is everyone’s responsibility.

The fight for quality public education is everyone’s responsibility.

When our communities were founded, the first communal institution that was built was often the local schoolhouse.

Among the first examples of British Columbians pooling their resources for the betterment of all was to ensure children had access to the best schooling that could be provided under the circumstances.

Community members understood that the best way for these little communities to survive was to ensure every child had the opportunity to learn and grow.

Access to quality public education is seen around the world as being one of the most critical building blocks for a productive, inclusive and democratic society.  And as a wealthy society, we can easily afford to ensure that every child, regardless of location or parentage, can have access to the best education. But that is not what is happening here in British Columbia.

Public education has been under attack by this government. It is deliberate and it is ongoing. The latest budget underfunds public schools even further, resulting in more cuts in B.C. classrooms.

The government tries to say that we simply can’t afford to provide any more money to our school system, yet private schools were given 33 per cent more of our tax dollars in the latest budget.

And to further prove the priority of this government, Premier Clark has a Parliamentary Secretary — an MLA who is given a further $15,000 per year — whose job it is to promote private schools.

The clear agenda of this government is to further degrade the public system while increasing the transference of public money into the private system.

Up until now, teachers have led the fight to protect our public school system. Each teacher has taken on a significant financial loss as the money they gave up during the six-week strike will never be regained through wage increases.

They did it in an attempt to force this government to fund public schools properly.

We can no longer rely entirely on teachers to be the ones taking on this fight. I believe it is every child’s right to have access to quality public education. We cannot remain silent while this critical asset is diminished beyond repair.

Norm Macdonald is the NDP MLA for Columbia River Revelstoke. He can be reached by phone at 1-866-870-4188 and by email at norm.macdonald.mla@leg.bc.ca.

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