Dear Editor:

Hats off to Terry Curley (Letter to the Editor, June 10th Pioneer) for taking the time to refute Duane Crandalls stand on the funding of private schools (Letter to the Editor, May 20th Pioneer). Although we may not be able to abolish private schools, at least we can stop funding these elite establishments with taxpayers money. I, too, believe Mr. Crandall didnt have all the facts. Last fall, the B.C. Retired Teachers Association (BCRTA) directed its Excellence in Education Committee to research this issue. The committees full report can be accessed on the BCRTA website in the December 2015 Liaison Priorities Newsletter. There you can find the references that back up these statistics. In a nutshell, these are the myths and facts:

Myth #1: Funding for public schools and funding for independent schools has increased by the same amount since 2005.

Fact: Funding for independent schools increased 61.1 per cent while public schools funding increased by only 19.7 per cent (Ministry of Education Budget 2015 Overview, February 2015, pp 3-4)

Fact: The province has introduced new legislation that will no longer allow municipalities to tax private school playgrounds, fields, parking lots and other land.

Myth #2: Independent schools have always been funded with public monies.

Fact: Prior to 1977, private schools were unregulated and received no provincial government funding. The Social Credit government introduced public funding of private schools in 1977 and only then did enrolment in private schools begin to increase, taking a large share of the provincial education budget.

Myth #3: The financial documents of all B.C. schools are open to public scrutiny.

Fact: Public school finances are open to public scrutiny. The same cannot be said for individual independent (a.k.a. private) schools in B.C.

Myth #4: Public schools are not able to offer the choices that parents want.

Fact: A multitude of programs are offered in public schools throughout the province, as evidenced on public school and school district websites.

Myth #5: The Fraser Institute ranking system of B.C. schools is fair and equitable.

Fact: The School Rankings Report Card is politically motivated in its underlying assumption that private schooling is preferable to public schools. The goal is to discredit public schools and open them up to the marketplace. Thus, they create a system of winners and losers. (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2006) A key factor in the Fraser Institute school rankings is the use of standardized test results. Researchers point out that demographic factors that define school contexts are a more accurate indicator of a schools situation than standardized testing.

Myth #6: Lower class sizes, improved class composition and fair wages for teachers in public schools are unaffordable.

Fact: There IS money for increased funding for public education. B.C. ended its 2013/2014 fiscal year with a $353 million surplus. Further, the B.C. economy is projected to grow by 19 per cent over the next five years. (Province of British Columbia 2013/2014 Public Accounts, pp 11 and 18)

Im with Terry Curley. It is time we demanded change.

Your silence gives consent. Plato

Lynn Askey

Columbia Valley Retired Teachers