Text of remarks in support of Board of Education letter

I’m speaking on behalf of the district parent advisory council.

We were pleased to support the district’s call for a sustainably funded Public Education system, which meets the needs of students and the community.
We want adequate and sustainable funding to the district, and we want our student’s needs met.

The provincial government will doubtless note that a large percentage of every British Columbian’s tax dollar goes towards education, and that the education budget has been increasing every year, even in times of decreased enrolment.

The government may also note that BC students seem to be doing well academically. For example, among the 65 participating countries and economies in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), only one jurisdiction statistically performed above B.C.’s range in reading, only two jurisdictions in science, and nine jurisdictions in mathematics. B.C. also demonstrated high equity in student performance, showing the system is delivering high student achievement in an equitable manner.

However, as the minister of education noted, “While these results are good news, they are no reason to be complacent. They show we’re solid on the basics but we must adapt to the changing needs of a rapidly changing world”, going on to say: “Our goal is to foster capable, engaged, confident young people ready to thrive and succeed on their life’s journey, wherever that may take them.”

Quite frankly, simply saying that we need more money is not going to be terribly effective with any government. Governments have many competing priorities, such as health care –literally a life or death issue.

We need to make it clear what we need to continue to help our students thrive and succeed, and to allow more of our students to thrive and succeed. In the Prince George district, we have many needs – for example, we know that the early child development index shows that many of our very young children are vulnerable.

From a study on money and education – “It is certainly reasonable to acknowledge that money, by itself, is not a comprehensive solution for improving school quality. Clearly, money can be spent poorly and have limited influence on school quality. Or, money can be spent well and have substantive positive influence. But money that’s not there can’t do either. Sufficient financial resources are a necessary underlying condition for providing quality education.”

That same study calls for additional evidence being required about how resources in preschool, elementary, and secondary schools, and successful transitions to higher education and labour market outcomes. I referred to the PISA test scores earlier – it’s not just about the test scores, it’s about how well our education prepares our kids for life beyond school.

We’re concerned that growing funding pressures on districts – such as infrastructure upgrades, replacements, provincially bargained settlements, inflation, and other non-discretionary spending – leaves us with insufficient financial resources. Without sufficient financial resources, we cannot provide enough quality education. Without quality education, the number of our young people who will be able to thrive and succeed in life decreases.

Or to put it another way, which may resonate better with the government, investing in our kids will pay off in a better economy for all of us. It’s a low risk, high return type of investment.

Together, the various partner groups of this district are concerned about the issues of sustainability, stability, and quality of education.

Together, we’re not just asking for more money. We’re asking for more investment in our future, in our children.

 


Press release from Board of Education:

20140624_press release

 

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