I never imagined that I would be writing about politics.
If you knew me a few months ago you would know that I have been opposed to getting involved in politics my entire life. I only started voting in the past 10 years on the urging of a good friend and since then have always ‘given my vote away’ to those whose views I support. I didn’t want to even try to understand what was going on because I don’t want the negativity in my orbit.
But with the BC Teacher’s Job Action hitting close to home (my partner is a teacher and my son will start Kindergarten in 2015) I can’t ignore it any longer.
I suppose that which you resist the most is the very thing you need to pursue. So here I am.
Looking for the Truth
One of the things I pride myself on the most is my desire to know the truth. I look for it at every turn, some have even told me that I should be a PI. But while seeking justice and the truth rings my bell in many ways, going on a stake out to collect information about criminal behaviour doesn’t. Besides, being a mom gives me enough of a reason to make sure I get to what really matters when it comes to raising my son. I want to do right by him and in the process get to the heart of what really matters. The truth.
Budget Cuts in Education: BC Kids are Suffering in our Schools
Here’s a simple truth that unless you live under a rock you’ve been hearing all over the news. And if you ask any teacher they will say the same thing. Kids in BC public schools are not getting the education they deserve. I’ve included details from the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows School District #42 Preliminary Operating Budget 2014-15 below. Scroll down if you want to get that now. Otherwise read on. It will be worth your while.
Every year, teachers and students in BC public schools face drastic cuts to funding. And it’s frightening. It’s frightening because kids are being left behind and not being given every chance and every opportunity to succeed. Our public education system is so underfunded that teachers take money out of their own pockets to not only make their classrooms inviting but to also supply their students with basic needs like textbooks, pens and paper so that students have a somewhat enriched learning environment.
But of course it can’t really make up for what is really missing. Individual attention for students and adequate support systems for teachers.
In order to help government understand, because they aren’t in the classroom and have really no idea what is needed, teachers must be allowed to bargain their collective agreement, as per the law. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says this. The United Nations has also ruled in their favour. The Supreme Court of British Columbia has said this now, TWICE.
And it’s falling on deaf ears.
As parents we know that in order to get through to our kids, to teach them, to inspire them, we need to understand their individual needs. Simply put, we can’t treat our kids the same because they are not in the least bit alike.
Every kid in BC, regardless of ability, deserves the right to a quality education. Education is not a business but I suppose when you treat it like it is one you only look at the bottom line. If you live in a cave, that is.
It’s Time to Listen to Teachers
It’s time to listen to the people who spend the most time with our/your children. It’s time to listen to the people who have the most influence on how your kid’s values will be shaped. It’s time to put kids first so that they learn that education is not only important but critical to their success and to a society full of healthy-minded critical thinkers. It’s time to listen to the teachers and the parents.
And it is important to be informed. Above all, make sure that you get the information you need to make an educated decision. Our kids depend on it.
Cutbacks for Maple Ridge School District: September 2014
If your kids go to public school in Maple Ridge you will
be shocked to know that there are more cuts coming to the Maple Ridge School District for September 2014. And make no mistake, Maple Ridge isn’t the exception. When I get more information about other districts I will let you know.
The following was put on Facebook by a new teacher-friend, Scott Susin, whom I met when I took this petition (which now has 8,222 signatures) to Victoria at the end of May. He teaches in Mission and has gotten his hands on the budget report and the cuts that are coming to his school’s district.
‘It paints a pretty grim picture to say the least.’ says Scott.
Education Administration / Human Resources (basically school board staffing)
- Staffing cut by .50 which will save (31K)
- Director of Instruction secretary (67K)
- Learning resources and video licensing (110K)
- Social responsibility supplies and services (6.7K)
Info-Tech (these are mostly school board staffing and resource cuts, not necessarily cut directly from schools and / or classrooms)
- Laptop project supplies cut (40K)
- Equipment replacement (30K) – less equipment being replaced when it breaks
- Administration supplies for info-tech (30K)
- 1 full-time systems analyst position (89K)
- 1 full-time CUPE senior technician (79K)
Business Operations and Governance
These are cuts to daily operations / maintenance and other outliers involved with running the School District
- Reducing service and supply budgets for microscope and sewing machine maintenance
- Reducing budgets for district supplies
- Two buyer positions, one account assistant and a part-time junior accounts payable clerk are being eliminated, basically this means that whoever is left has to do more
Facilities and Maintenance (cutting grass, school maintenance, electrical, plumbing, basic upkeep)
- 1 full-time position
- Reduce maintenance budget by 35K (this includes pagers, vehicle and equipment leasing, furniture replacement, pagers for custodial staff and office supplies
Riverside (Community Education, International Education, Ridge Meadows College)
- 2.1 reduction in secretaries
- 1.0 reduction in teaching staff
- full-time Vice Principal cut, next year there will be 1 Principal and a summer Vice Principal
- Reading Racers program will be eliminated (25K)
Student Support Services (this is where it gets good), these are EAs, YCWs, counsellors and basically anyone else besides the classroom teacher who works directly with students, usually designated students (academic and/or behaviour)
- A total of 6.24 staffing reduction, over 6 positions are being cut, from where, I do not know
- Elementary: 2 full-time positions cut
- Secondary: 2 full-time positions cut
- Reduced time for secondary special education staff to meet with teaching staff (currently 37 days, next year will be 18 days). So basically this means less time for support staff to meet and discuss students with teachers.
- Quoted from the budget itself; “A reduction of itinerant staff at Student Support Services of 1.3 FTE ($0.12 million) could be achieved through increased caseloads for remaining staff. So we will cut back on staffing and increase the caseloads for those who are left. Awesome. Also keep in mind these are typically the most vulnerable, needy students in a school district.
- Secondary instructional support staff will need to work one extra week.
- Currently there is a vacant accounting clerk position at Student Support Services, that position will not be filled or re-filled.
- A reduction of supplies and services budget (less office supplies, less photocopying, etc)
Teachers and Teaching Positions
The budget adjusts allocation formulas for elementary and secondary teachers. Basically this says there will be less teachers and more students.
- Elementary schools will lose 5.34 full time positions
- Current kindergarten ratio is 1:19.75, next year it will be 1:20
- Current grade 1-3 ratio is 1:21.75, next year it will be 1:22
- Current grade 4-7 ratio is 1:27.50, next year it will be 1:28
- Secondary schools will lose 4.01 full time positions
The adjustment for high schools is a different animal.
Currently Maple Ridge has a ratio of 1:27.10HC (head count), these are students who are registered at school whether they are taking 1 course, or 8 courses. Next year the district will go to a ratio of 1:27.10FTE. So what this means is that any kid not registered full-time is not included in the ratio. So you could have 27 students in a class, but another x-amount of kids who aren’t full-time. And the district would still be within their proposed ratio. Only students who are registered full-time count towards the ratio. Any other student doesn’t count, but would still be taking courses, just not a full-time course load. Tricky, but I hope you get it.
English Language Learners (ELL)
The district is increasing their ratio from a current ratio of 1:55, to 1:60, so basically more kids for the same amount of staff.
Elementary Clerical Changes
- 5.60 full time clerical (secretaries)
- Hours assigned to schools will be cut back, this means less secretaries at their desks
- The budget ensures that there will be a secretary in the office while classes are in session. But my question would then be, what about before school, recess, lunch, and after school? Isn’t the office the busiest during these times of the day?
Secondary Clerical Changes
- 5.02 full time clerical spread across the 6 high schools
- Maple Ridge Alternate and the Environmental School will share 35 hours of clerical
Secondary Career Planning
- Eliminating the school based Career Planning Assistant positions in all secondary schools, a total of 3.57 full time positions, these are people who work with senior students in planning their post-secondary education, their careers, basically their lives after high school
- 0.29 administration reduction, they will be cutting 2.0 vice principals, but adding 1.71 full time teachers because teachers are cheaper than vice principals
- Department head allowances at all secondary schools will be reduced (this means less pro-d and resources for department heads to provide their staff with, this is especially important to new, younger teaching staff looking for effective and educational resources
Transportation of Students
- Parents will be charged for bussing next year, costs are as follows;
- $215 each for first two children, $100 for every child after that, so 2 children = $430, 3 children = $530, and so on…
- Bus monitors will be cut, these are people who help typically special needs students on and off the bus. They also watch and ensure the safety of students during their bus rides to and from school and home.
General Supplies Reduction
- PAC supply allocation will be eliminated, less money given to PAC for their schools
- The district adjusted their supplement for school fees, this year it was $30 per full-time student, next year it will be $25 per full-time student
- District wide supplies and services reduction of $130K
Thank you Scott for passing this information on to me.
What impacts have budget cuts had on your child’s learning experience at school?
If you are on Twitter please follow hashtags #bced, #SayYesToMediation, and follow @bctf and @momparadigm
Thank you for reading.
Here’s the link again to the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Preliminary Budget for 2014-15.