VICTORIA— Data released by the Ministry of Education shows that Premier Christy Clark has failed to live up to what she called her ‘number one priority’ in B.C.’s classrooms, says New Democrat spokesperson for education, Rob Fleming.
“The education ministry’s own information tells a story of a government that has failed to invest in public education,” said Fleming. “When Christy Clark forced 550,000 students, parents, and teachers into the longest school shutdown in B.C. history, she said that she cared about the issue of class size and composition. One year later, we are seeing fewer supports for students in our classrooms while class sizes are growing at an alarming rate.”
Fleming pointed out that the premier said that improving class sizes and compositions in B.C.’s schools was her ‘number one priority’ at numerous press conferences and photo-ops during her four month confrontational dispute with teachers in 2014.
“The numbers show that she was never committed to supporting students in our classrooms,” said Fleming.
“Enrolment numbers in B.C. schools are actually increasing, and this trend is expected to continue. This should mean that schools receive more funding, but Premier Christy Clark cut $54 million from school boards in last year’s budget, which has meant fewer teachers and larger class sizes.” Fleming said that $25 million of that cut will be imposed on school districts in the coming year.
According to the Ministry of Education’s latest data on class size and composition, learning conditions in B.C. schools continue to deteriorate. The number of classes in B.C. with four or more children with special needs has gone up to 16,516, which is the highest it has ever been. Despite this huge increase in students with special needs, the number of classes in B.C. with an assigned educational assistant went down by 432. Class sizes have also increased significantly, with the number of classes with 30 or more students increasing by 25 per cent this year. Ultimately, this means that there is less personalized support for students in the classroom.
“Christy Clark should have kept her promise to parents and kids to fix class size and composition problems in our public education system, but instead she made her priority a huge $230 million tax break for the top 2 per cent of income earners in British Columbia,” said Fleming.