Education blues

Resident challenges the provincial government over funding

For the last several decades, government support for public school education has been in steady decline. The article on the possible closure of Armstrong Elementary School clearly illustrates that an ever-shrinking minimum has become the norm.

For example, North Okanagan-Shuswap School District chairperson Bobbi Johnson laments the lack of money to properly educate the students. “I don’t want us to have no money for students who need help with learning. We have had to close schools before and those kids all survived. We still work to give the best education we can.”

Armstrong-Spallumcheen trustee Kelly Rowe is trying to find other sources of funds: “…like possibly charging a busing fee… Other communities, like Vernon, are successfully attracting international students.”

A parent at the school board meeting Feb. 9 stated baldly, “I’d like to be shown what has been cut from administration before we take away schools from our children.”

These comments state three facts:

1. The community’s priority is the children’s education.

2. Government has abrogated its responsibility for public education.

3. You and I, the public, have to make the best of it.

We need to begin talking about what is really going on here. What is the government’s objective in steadily limiting the education of the majority of the children? What happens to a society in which the public is poorly educated? How does the public education system play an essential role in preserving our democracy?

If we look closely at these questions, we spot some answers.

Government finds an educated public troublesome. The public has begun to believe the mantra that education cuts are unavoidable. Sustained budget cuts and public school closures would not be happening if a government priority was the education of its citizens.

Shirley Campbell

Armstrong