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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Education Funding Woes

No news is not good news when it comes from the Ministry of Education these days. Anticipated funding shortfalls have every school district including Boundary, struggling to come up with ways not only to maintain the programs that exist, but to fund new ones that the Ministry has decreed must be implemented. Last Thursday, while visiting Grand Forks, Minister of Education Macdiarmid indicated that districts would not find out until March 15 what the funding news would be, yet districts are expected to have their budgets in place before that date.
Careful management and funding programs that gave School District 51 extra dollars over the last few years have meant that the blow to this district will not result in the large numbers of lay-offs and school program cuts that other districts will be facing, but the impact will be felt in every school nonetheless.
Macdiarmid repeats the refrain that we have heard over and over again, that the government values education and health care above all else, yet the Liberals continue to reduce the amount of money that inflation and the changing needs of the population require. At the same time, the education ministry stands behind the Foundation Skills Assessment that costs millions of dollars and has almost no value. Student test scores in small districts like ours go up and down from year to year depending on the abilities of the students as they move through the system. There is no pattern of steady improvement; there never will be. The scores will always vary from year to year. The students who are identified in the tests as Not Meeting Expectations come as no surprise to their teachers, who had already identified their needs on a far more specific basis than the FSA could ever determine.
When asked if the government would be providing additional funds to help those poorly achieving students meet expectations, Macdiarmid stated that there were already resources in palce: teachers, parents and the students themselves and perhaps if parents read to them fifteen minutes a day, that might be the help they needed.
The government’s commitment to education appears to be contained in her statements; if parents and teachers want the system to improve, do it yourself.

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