I am writing in response to the letter of Mr. Duane Crandall which was published in the May 20th edition of The Pioneer. Mr. Crandalls self-serving justification of private school funding confirms again the old saw that there are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies, and statistics! Mr. Crandall asserts that the removal of 81,000 students from the public education system saves the province $260 million per year. However, he knows as well as anybody else that the incremental cost of adding those 81,000 students back into the public school system will not cost the full amount of $6400 per student since schools, buses, teachers, and administrators are already in place. Or, looking at it another way, if 81,000 students were added to the public system at the full funding rate of $6400 per student, the schools would have more money per student since many of the base costs wont change with the then increased student population.
To really do the subject justice, Mr. Crandall should dig out some more statistics such as the total enrolment in B.C. schools so that we know what percentage are attending private schools. It would also be interesting to know how many school buildings are being under-used or shut down, and how much new construction would be required to accommodate the 81,000 students currently attending private schools.
The bottom line is that universal public education is one of the key foundations of Canadian society, and any policy which seeks to deviate from this needs to be examined with a view to whether or not it improves Canadian society. In the case of funding for private schools, no advantage is obtained by Canadian society at large, and the harm to the public education system is easily demonstrated by looking at the out-flow of funds.
If we extrapolate the numbers to 160,000 or 320,000 enrolled in private schools, it is easy to see that public schools could quickly become cash starved and we would have created a two-tier education system which penalizes those of lesser means while immensely favouring those who can afford the higher costs of private schooling.
Perhaps Mr. Crandells letter will serve to energize and motivate the public at large to protest against this policy of favouring the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. I suggest that the current Liberal government could be persuaded to abolish the funding of private schools if enough people demanded a change.