Investment in public education key to economic stimulus, poll shows

    VICTORIA, Feb. 5 /CNW/ - An overwhelming majority (86 percent) of British
Columbians believe investment in public education should be a key part of any
economic stimulus plan in the upcoming provincial budget, said a poll released
today by the BC Coalition for Public Education.
    "British Columbians are saying loud and clear government needs to invest
in our public education system - including students, workers, programs,
services, technology, grounds and buildings - so that when we emerge from this
economic mess, we're well prepared to seize the opportunities of tomorrow,"
said Coalition spokesperson Shamus Reid, who also chairs the BC division of
the Canadian Federation of Students.
    The coalition warned against any plans by the Campbell government to
freeze or cut education funding, saying starving schools and post-secondary
institutions will create a "false economy" that will seriously impact an
already underfunded, beleaguered education system.
    "Our poll shows the public is worried about the current state of our
education system," Reid said. "Since 2002, 177 schools have closed. Others
need seismic upgrading. ESL and special needs programs are inadequate. Tuition
fees have skyrocketed, massively increasing student debt. Cash-strapped
colleges and universities have had to limit enrolment and cut programs.
Trades, technology and apprenticeship programs lack funds to meet industry
needs and to make BC a world-class centre for research and innovation."
    Along with its poll, the coalition released a five-point plan calling for
new and renewed investment to improve the quality and accessibility of
elementary, secondary and postsecondary education.
    "We challenge the Campbell government to take immediate steps to
implement this plan," Reid said. "Government needs to ensure our citizens are
educated and skilled if we are to come out of this economic crisis intact. Our
economic future and prosperity depend on it."
    The telephone poll was conducted between January 14-21, 2009, by the
Mustel Group on behalf of the Coalition for Public Education. A total of 500
randomly selected BC adults were interviewed. Full polling results are
available at

    The Coalition for Public Education supports and promotes universally
accessible, quality public education and includes students, civil society
organizations, and the people who teach and work in BC's schools, colleges,
institutes and universities.

    Coalition for Public Education

    Public Education in BC:
    Ensuring a better tomorrow

    British Columbians are struggling with the fallout from the global
economic crisis. While they are focused on this daily challenge, they also
want to prepare for a better tomorrow for their children and themselves.
    An important part of working towards that better future is looking beyond
the current crisis and making the necessary investments in our human
infrastructure - our public learning institutions. When British Columbians
emerge from the current economic downturn, we want to be ready to seize the
opportunities of tomorrow, and for that we must be healthy, educated and
creative. Investing in our public learning institutions - people, programs,
the technology, buildings and grounds (all the things that make them
world-class) - lasts generations.
    When we ensure the ill or injured are cared for, the poor are clothed,
fed and housed, children are educated, and young people are prepared to fully
participate in our economy and society, we do this not only because it is a
measure of our humanity, but because it is our economic and social legacy to
our children and children's children.
    As the current fiscal crisis has amply demonstrated, economic and social
stability depend on a healthy public sector. In looking for the best path to
economic recovery, it makes sense to build upon a solid foundation of public
services. Investments in public services and infrastructure will provide
short-term and long-term economic stimulus and ensure our children are
educated, young people are prepared for a rocky job market, and displaced
workers can upgrade their skills or train for new careers.
    The Coalition for Public Education includes students, civil society
organizations, and people who teach and work in our schools, colleges,
institutes and universities.
    We speak from the front-lines of education at every level in BC and have
a shared vision of how education, in all its forms, will contribute to our
better tomorrow.
    The first major step in preparing for that tomorrow is the provincial
budget that will be released on February 17, 2009. The coalition's member
organizations have individually provided advice to government on priorities
for the upcoming budget. But we have also come together to present a
comprehensive plan to build upon the successes of our system of public
    Government must ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. We urge
decision makers to reject the false economy of starving our public schools,
colleges, institutes and universities of the resources they need.
    We believe there can be no better investment than in the resources to
educate our children, refurbish institutions, train tradespeople, technicians
and administrative workers, prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs and
scholars, and make the discoveries that will fuel our social and economic
    The coalition has set out a plan for new and renewed investments in
education to improve the quality of elementary, secondary and post-secondary
education in BC and make educational opportunities more accessible to all
British Columbians. Although all the elements of this plan fall within the
jurisdiction of the BC government, the federal government has an important
role in providing funding to repair and replace physical infrastructure.
    Members of the BC Coalition for Public Education are: BC Teachers'
Federation, B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, Canadian Federation
of Students, Charter for Public Education Network, Confederation of University
Faculty Associations of BC, B.C. Division of the Canadian Union of Public
Employees, Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC.

    Coalition for Public Education

    Purposes of the coalition

    1. To support and promote a universally accessible, quality public
       education system from kindergarten to post-secondary including
       vocational, career and university education.
    2. To support adequate funding for public education and oppose
       initiatives that result in a reduction or privatization of educational

    Coalition member organizations

    BC Teachers' Federation
    B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union
    Canadian Federation of Students
    Charter for Public Education Network
    Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC
    B.C. Division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees
    Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC

For further information:

For further information: Phillip Legg, cellular (604) 788-2877

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