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Furstenau: It’s time to end age of scarcity in our public schools

October 15, 2020

MAPLE BAY B.C. – Sonia Furstenau, leader of the B.C. Green Party, highlighted the party’s education platform and reiterated her commitment to lowering the voting age to 16 today at a campaign stop in Maple Bay. 

“Investing in our young people is one of the best ways we can build a stronger province,” said Furstenau.

COVID 19 has complicated the challenges that already existed, adding new stressors to our education system. Parents shouldn’t have to feel that they have to choose between their child's safety and the quality of the education they receive. Teachers shouldn't have to worry about their personal safety and districts shouldn’t be facing uncertainty about whether they have the funding needed to ensure a high quality education for all students, regardless of how they receive it.

“Sixteen years of austerity under the B.C. Liberals has left our classroom sizes large, teacher salaries struggling to compete nationally and school districts struggling to find the dollars needed to ensure a quality education for all students. While the B.C. NDP have taken some action around the edges, they have done very little transformative work. We need to end the age of scarcity in our public schools. 

“Rapid changes in the economy mean that many of the jobs our children will have, don’t even exist today and they will be using technology that has not yet been invented to solve the incredible challenges facing us. We need to redesign our education system to prepare our children for the changes on the horizon. 

“We also need to recognize that young people deserve a greater say in our democracy. The decisions we make today will affect them more than anyone. We need to join countries like Scotland and Austria and lower the voting age to 16.  By supporting this move with integrating voter education and democracy into high school curriculum, we can help foster a lifelong commitment to democracy in our youth.” 

The  B.C. Greens plan for public education includes: 

  • To ensure a quality education, a safe school environment and flexibility for parents and students, the BC Greens would:

    • Fund operating grants for school districts to 100% of the grants received in the 2019/2020 school year to ensure that enrollment during COVID does not compromise the quality of education, nor the ability of schools to retain current teachers or education assistants.

    • Maintain additional COVID funding for PPE and online learning throughout this school year, and into the 2020/2021 school year as required.

    • Ensure every school district has the resources to develop a credible and robust remote learning and hybrid learning options. This will help ensure that even when learning from home, students are able to keep a connection to the school they attend and the community they live in.

    • Support the mental health of our students with $24 million in new funding to enhance the number of counsellors in our schools, starting with the current school year.

    • Develop and implement a province-wide plan to address racism that exists in schools, and commit to additional, ongoing funding to deepen the work of reconciliation and Indigenous education across K-12.

  • To help support the integration of ECE into our public school system, the BC Greens will:

    • Provide $300 million in new funding  2021/22 to begin the phase in of up to 25 hours free early childhood education programs per week for 3 and 4 year olds, rising to $550 million as capacity expands;

    • Provide $100 million in new funding to create a new capital program in the Ministry of Education to fund renovation and additions to existing schools to support ECE spaces.

  • To help address affordability, to ensure that no child attends school hungry and to better integrate nutrition into our curriculum, the BC Greens would create a new $25 million fund for school districts to develop a food program for their schools in their district.

    • Proposals would be developed by the district to ensure local needs are addressed;

    • Funding would be conditional on ensuring the program integrated nutrition into the curriculum and showed how the plan would eliminate the stigma associated with accessing food programming.

  • Work with our education partners on a long term plan for how BC can improve its per student funding. This would include:

    • Addressing the continued disparities in wages, class size and composition between districts;

    • Access to speech-language pathologists and school psychologists, and develop new resources for students with special needs. 

    • This starts with the development of a new funding formula that supports a 21st century education system.

  • Double the funding of the B.C. Access Grant to help support post-secondary part-time students, and those enrolled in multi-year programs.

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