LISTEN: Drex’ editorial on the state of B.C. schools
Our education system in this province has been under a massive spotlight the last few weeks
The VSB is facing its largest-ever budget shortfall: $27.26 million for the 2016/17 school year. And there’s a recommendation to close as many as 13 schools.
Officials say job cuts, larger classes, and the elimination of elementary band and strings program are all on the table.
VSB also want teachers to start paying for parking
In Richmond, a similar story. The Richmond school district has announced 16 schools are facing possible closure due to declining enrollment and the need for seismic upgrades. All of those schools are elementary schools.
Back in January we reported that Twenty-one schools in Richmond were vulnerable to structural failure in the event of an earthquake.
But the province won’t pay for seismic upgrades unless school boards fill classrooms to 95 percent capacity.
So in the governments eyes it seems the way forward is close the schools, get the money.
LISTEN: School problems extend far beyond Vancouver
In the Okanagan the situation is even worse, Trustees last night voted to close the only secondary school in the city effective June 30th.
The school closure was voted through with a 4 – 3 vote, and the 4 votes to close the school came from 4 trustees that don’t even live in the city.
Parents there are so furious they plan on opening an independent school by the fall. They’ve already filed the paperwork, the mayor is furious, parents are furious and they plan on fighting.
The other side of this story: the next nearest high school is in Oliver, a 10 minute bus ride away. Easy for kids to access, but some parents want their kids taught in their communities
Some will argue it’s just not an economic reality, other argue funding isn’t good enough
And then there’s New Westminster Secondary. The dump in the crown jewel that is that city.
Parents there have been waiting 10 years for a replacement school, and that fight has come to a head tonight as parents plan to protest this weekend.
But that protest is likely to fall on deaf ears within the ministry of education
And that’s only a few of the current issues from a few select areas around the province. If I were to find all the issues in each school district we’d be here all night.
So where do we go with the current state of our schools?
Parents and teachers aren’t happy with consistent cuts to programs and funding, we have teachers not being able to do their jobs to the best of their abilities because of a lack of funding and resources, and the school boards are asking them to tighten belts even more.
LISTEN: Richard McGuire with the Osoyoos Times on closing the city’s only high school
Could parent run independent schools work in B.C.?
Could smaller community or neighborhood schools work better?
Are the days of the big school on lots of land with lots of students gone?
And what about Charter schools?
Some advocates of charter schools point to the situation in the U.S. where charter schools have been started in the core of major cities. Those founding the schools in communities like Harlem and Detroit are looking for improvements over the existing situation where schools are of poor quality and often violent.
Some would claim this is the exact conversation the government wants us to be having, getting so angry at the public school system that we try and takes things on ourselves and apply for the right to run an independent school… but still funded by the government.
David Hursh, a professor at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester told the Tyee back in 2010 that the move towards charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, may appear to give parents more choices but will end up hurting kids…
He says “Many of these schools don’t have to take students with disabilities. They don’t have to take the students that they don’t want. They end up being selective. The charter school can take the students who are easier to educate and leave the more difficult students to the public schools.”
Both clearly have a place, but which is the best way to go?
I’m not an educator, nor do I understand the system or it’s millions of things that make it move, but it’s easy for me, and you to see something isn’t working.
So who will be the visionary that will fix it?