Vancouver elementary teachers question BC government's spending priorities

    VANCOUVER, Nov. 28 /CNW/ - "The Minister of Education is fond of claiming
that education funding is at an all time high in BC - a misleading claim when
you consider that from 1999 to 2005, education funding decreased as a
percentage of Gross Domestic Product," argues Glen Hansman. "Grants to school
districts need to keep pace with inflation and the true costs of providing
education services to BC's learners."
    Teachers will launch a print ad campaign this week challenging the
provincial government to justify its spending priorities. The ads compare the
casual acceptance of cost overruns at the new convention centre with the
mean-spirited cuts to funding for public education.
    "Maybe if our schools were convention centres, they'd get the resources
they need" is the title on the ads. In the Vancouver school district alone,
more than 1200 of our classes are either over the class size guidelines in the
school act and/or have more than three students with special needs.
Furthermore, support for all students has been severely reduced. Vancouver has
lost dozens of specialist teachers, including learning assistance teachers,
ESL teachers, and librarians.
    "Why would the government continue to underfund a quality public
education system that benefits everyone, yet turn a blind eye to huge cost
overruns for a convention centre that benefits a privileged few?" said Glen
Hansman, President of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association.
"Why would the Liberals continue to underfund a quality public education
system like we have in Vancouver, yet turn a blind eye to huge cost overruns
for megaprojects in the Lower Mainland?"
    "They continue to take money away from schools and to break the promises
they made to students on class size and composition."
    School districts across the province are still reeling from the October
announcement of cuts to students in secondary schools. The BC government is
clawing back up to $50 million from students taking fewer than eight courses.
    The final message in the ad asks, With a $4 billion surplus, why is
Gordon Campbell's government shortchanging our kids? "It is really incredible
that our government is starving our schools while they are sitting on this big
windfall," says Glen Hansman. "You have to wonder about their priorities!"

For further information:

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

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