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BCTF decries 'second decade of cuts in BC schools'

The BC Teachers' Federation is calling the latest budget freeze on education spending the beginning of a 'second decade of cuts' to B.C. schools.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon announced education spending would remain at $4.7 billion per year until the 2014/15 school year, with an additional $165 million doled out during that period for the Learning Improvement Fund, the government's yet-to-be announced-solution to the removal of Bills 27/28 after the B.C. Supreme Court rule them unconstitutional last year.

Although no actual cuts to education spending are being made, the Teachers' Federation (BCTF) says not keeping up with inflation will force districts to cut programs and services to the tune of $100 million this year in order to balance their budgets.

"A whole generation of students have grown up going to school in larger classes without adequate support and a lack of specialist teachers to meet diverse needs," BCTF President Susan Lambert said in a press release issued by the union this afternoon.

"Now we’re looking at another three years of ongoing cuts and increasing demands on teachers to fill the gaps and meet students’ needs."

Lambert says school spending would need to increase by $130 million per year to keep up with inflation, and says the $165 million for the Learning Improvement Fund won't cut it.

"The LIF amounts to mere pennies per day per child,” Lambert says in the release. “This is a massive theft of educational opportunities from the next generation of BC kids."

The BCTF draws parallels between the freeze on education funding to the province's consistently high child poverty ranking in the country, and highlighting Mind The Gap, a BC Stats studythat puts B.C. as having the second highest income inequality in Canada, just behind Alberta.

“These statistics provide strong evidence of this government’s disregard for the poorest and most vulnerable children and families in BC, despite all the family-friendly rhetoric,” says Lambert.

Katie Hyslop reports on youth, education and poverty issues for The Tyee and others.

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