By Dean Midyette
Let me begin by stating that when it comes to discussing education funding, I am unapologetically biased. I am a former teacher, the spouse of a teacher who works at DTSS and I have a son in Grade 10. I believe that providing our children with a quality education is the least expensive and most responsible way to combat many of our social ills. The more well-educated our citizenry, the more productive we are as a province and a nation.
As our children settle into a new school year, conversations return to how well public schools are funded. There are a lot of numbers thrown around by all sides so what are we to believe?
There is an infamous statement made by former UK Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who reminded us that there are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.
Here are the numbers. The provincial government has stated that funding for education is at record levels. This is true. This year, the province of British Columbia will spend $5.1 billion on public education, an increase of 32 per cent when compared to funding in 2001 when the Liberals came to power.
However, if we factor inflation into the comparison, we find that education funding has actually decreased by 9.75 per cent during the same period.
When education dollars are compared as a percentage of our provincial Gross Domestic Product, the numbers are even more striking. In 2001, the province spent 2.8 per cent of provincial GDP on education compared to 1.9 per cent in 2016, a decrease of 25 per cent.
With a provincial election and a Canada Supreme Court ruling in 2017, there will certainly be more to discuss in the months to come.