Christy Clark’s education funding games putting kids last

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John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan
Leader of the B.C. New Democrats

Victoria: Nothing is more important than our children’s education.  Today, our young people will graduate into a global job market, and we need to make sure that the public education our province is providing will help them compete with young people throughout the world.

Unfortunately, Christy Clark and her government are playing political games that are putting that education at risk.

First, the premier announced that she would address overcrowding in Surrey schools, where there are so many students learning in portables, they would make up our province’s 24th largest school district. The premier’s solution? A so-called plan that will leave 4,500 kids learning in portables.

Then, less than two weeks later, the Clark government was back in Surrey for another education announcement – this one a promise of help for districts across the province facing devastating budget shortfalls. But no cheques went to local school boards. Instead, the Christy Clark government just cancelled their plan to claw back $25 million from school boards across B.C. this year.

The Christy Clark government is so out of touch that they actually thought that families in this province would applaud these announcements.

They didn’t, because these announcements weren’t about doing what’s right for families, and they weren’t about providing the secure, stable and adequate funding that our schools need.

They were all about Christy Clark and some bad headlines that she wants to make go away until after the election next spring.

It was the premier and her government that created the chaos we’re seeing right across our public education system.

The Clark government passed along increases to MSP premiums and hydro rates to school boards, failed to fund a $26-million broadband internet program, and forced school districts to cut millions in administrative spending – all this after years spent starving our education system.

The result? School closures across the province, and problems like Surrey’s overcrowding getting worse.

Incredibly, throughout all of this, Christy Clark and her government tried to pretend that there was nothing that they could do about the chaos they had caused.

Again and again, the education minister tried to pass the buck to school boards, claiming that the decisions they were making were on a “local level,” and nothing to do with his ministry’s failure to appropriately fund schools.

Worse still, the minister dismissed the thousands of kids and parents who have spoken up to save their schools from closure. Asked about criticism over his government’s funding cuts, he dismissed those comments as “noise” coming from “a few groups.”

The incredible advocacy done by parents and kids across this province was much more than “noise,” and the minister knows it. Those families mobilized with passion and determination, and it is thanks to them that the Christy Clark government has been forced to repair some of the damage it caused.