Thirty years ago, school supply lists were quite short, perhaps just two items: pencil crayons and a geometry set. But for a number of years now, the lists have become very long and often include two types of paper: photocopying and toilet. How did we get to this point?
In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the government of Oceania has an entire Ministry that uses all forms of media to create a false reality. In British Columbia today, the Government Communications and Public Engagement office has a budget of $37,900,000 to ensure that you have the correct view of what the B.C. Liberals do for you with your money.
The B.C. Liberals have been cutting funding and supports for public schools. This year alone the government asked school board to find $25 million in "administrative cuts," last year it was $29 million. So this one-time funding announcement is not what I consider to be an addition to funding, but rather a reduction in this year's cuts.
But my joyful relating of this good news will be dampened by the knowledge that there is no funding to make possible the full implementation of the new curriculum. It's as though my students have been given the keys to a car without any money for insurance or gas or maintenance or even driving lessons.
As a parent of three young children, and a practising scientist, I have some strong opinions about the direction of our education system and at this point I believe that we are heading in the wrong direction.
The saddest part to me is how much of the public buy into the "lazy, greedy" teacher persona that our government portrays in an effort to justify its constant underfunding of our public schools.
"I will not be buying these essential items for my children."
As a mother of two high-school aged kids and an educational consultant, I see first-hand the struggles that students and parents face. With the new changes to the curriculum I see the potential for these challenges to increase exponentially.
Each time I tried to imagine what personalized learning would look like in overcrowded classrooms with outdated technology, my mind sent me 404 error messages. Nothing computed.
Things are worse. They are so much worse. I cannot express how bad things are getting. It's because I love the work so much, that I have to leave. I've spent the last two years thinking about going. I've felt increasingly sorrowful that I simply cannot do all that these kids need and deserve me to do.
B.C.'s Charter for Public Education is a public owned document, which stands as a testament to everything we as a community want and expect from our public school system. It is a document long forgotten somewhere between the never ending war against our public schools, funding cuts and dragged out court cases.
You see, standardized test results don't paint a full picture. And neither do my words here. You'll just have to come see for yourself.
Seeing that declining figures don't seem to effect the government's ability to fund our corrections system, I fail to see how our province is unable to provide our children with at least the national average for our public schools.
I'm sorry that you are forced to sit for 6 hours each school-day despite research that reveals the detrimental cognitive and health effects of excessive sitting. I wish you had not had your curiosity crushed by classroom conformity.
Personalized learning will mean that more often than not your child will be interacting with his/her personal computer while completing courses online. It makes so much sense to try to sell this doublespeak version of "personalized" to parents. It's so much cheaper to buy a new computer than to pay a teacher's salary year after year.
A corporate funding program available to B.C. schools has become a Vancouver election issue, yet again highlighting the debate
More than 240 kids in Aldergrove, B.C., have nowhere to play because their school playground is too unsafe to use. The playground
Yes, I've bought the materials in the boxes that I'll be hauling to work each day this week. And yes, I sincerely wish that I hadn't had to go out of pocket to make sure that my students get the best education that I can give them. The underfunding of public education in B.C. has already taken enough out of me. I refuse to let it take who I am as a teacher, too.
Then there is the issue of school supplies. I have watched the list steadily lengthen over the years. This year alone, I have spent $300 just so my children can have adequate supplies for school. Not to mention that their supply lists include ridiculous items like Kleenex, photocopy paper and Ziploc bags. If our schools don't even have the funding to supply children with something to wipe their noses with, then like one parent said to me, "What's next, toilet paper?"
If only students were made of concrete and steel that could be moulded into things like roads, bridges, pipelines or sports arenas for Olympic events. Things that would be seen to be worth it, a good investment of billions of dollars of taxpayer money.