Funding for public schools is not good enough, say teachers

    VANCOUVER, April 20 /CNW/ - "Vancouver teachers are frustrated with this
system where parents and teachers have to keep fighting for the same basic
supports," says Glen Hansman, President of the Vancouver Elementary School
Teachers Association (VESTA). "Teachers continue to be held to higher and
higher account each year with less and less resources. This includes lack of
support for our ESL learners."
    Hansman makes his comments in response to the proposed cuts to teaching
and support staff in Vancouver public schools for next year.
    "We have record provincial surpluses - and here we are once again
planning on removing the few remaining supports for our ESL students and
students with special needs."
    According to data available on the Ministry of Education website, the
decline in the teaching force in Vancouver of 6.3% since the 2001-2002 school
year has greatly exceeded the enrolment decline of 4.8% since that time. This
does not include the 132.6 FTE in teaching positions being proposed for
elimination for the 2007-8 school year by the Vancouver School Board.
    ESL students and students with special needs will be especially hurt by
the proposed cuts, if they are implemented.
    "Using the Ministry's own data, there are 34.2% fewer ESL teachers today
in Vancouver since the 2001-2002 school year," says Glen Hansman. "This is a
staggering number when one considers the demographic diversity in this
district. The number of ESL students in Vancouver have not dropped by that
much during this time! So why are we putting ESL students and families in this
situation where they are not supported?"
    In contrast, Principals, Vice-Principals and senior management in
Vancouver have increased their numbers by 4.9% since 2001-2002, despite
declining enrolment.
    "It seems that addressing deficit issues in the Vancouver School District
is done on the backs of teachers and direct services to students and away from
the top-heavy management structure of this Board," says Glen Hansman.
    Operating costs of the VSB are rising by about $5 million per year, which
is not matched by the funding received by the Ministry. "Teachers in Vancouver
recognize that trustees are in a difficult spot because of the poor funding
they receive from the provincial government," says Glen Hansman. "The Minister
of Education and Premier are fond of repeating that education funding in this
province is at an all-time high. This may be the case in actual dollars, but
that does not match inflation and the real cost of operating an urban school
district with diverse needs such as Vancouver."
    Teachers in Vancouver call upon parents to demand that the Vancouver
School Board produces a budget that validates what the district needs to
function properly. "Vancouver trustees have been elected to represent the kids
in the district, not cover for the inadequacies of the provincial government's
funding," says Glen Hansman.
    Teachers also ask parents to inform themselves of the issues, and to
advocate for a strong, properly funded public education system that supports
the complete needs of all children.

For further information:

For further information: Glen Hansman, at (604) 873-8378
(Monday-Friday), (604) 813-5318 (cell), or

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