Provincial gov't getting good bang for its education buck

Not being involved with public education for a long time, I haven't paid much attention to the labour dispute between the B.C. Teachers' Federation and the provincial government.

It has been many decades since I graduated from public education and years since my children were of school age. I actually thought the BCTF and the government had come to an agreement, but obviously not.

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Given the long time passed, I had no opinion on the job the teachers in the public system were doing. I used to have fairly strong opinions on our education system, but over the last half century, I'm sure things have changed. The younger graduates I work with seem bright and knowledgeable, although I do perceive a weakness in numeracy.

My attention was, however, grabbed by a BCTF ad that said British Columbia "invested" a $1,000 less per student than the rest of the country. The implication

was that this was a bad thing. But is it? If B.C. spending actually is $1,000 per student less than the national average, what are the negative implications of that - besides hearing teachers whining? The main one (other than whining) would be that B.C. kids are receiving a poorer education than the rest of Canada's kids. That isn't a claim I have heard being made.

That is a difficult claim to prove or disprove. After all, you require some method of objectively comparing student education across the country. One comparison was done in 2012 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The study, which tested over 90,000 15-year-olds, included not only Canada, but 65 other countries as well. The Programme for International Student Assessment tested in the area of both paper-based and computer mathematics, science and

reading.

Canada performed reasonably in all categories, but how did B.C. compare to the national numbers? The average scores are indicated in the box to the left.

You will notice that across the board B.C. has a higher score than the country as a whole.

So the "average" student does not appear to be suffering from low funding and the B.C. education system seems quite efficient generating above average scores at lower cost.

I would like to hear from the BCTF on how extra funding would improve these results.

Would the same number of dollars have a more beneficial effect if they were "invested" in the health care system? There isn't an unlimited number of dollars available and governments have to determine priorities.

Being below the national average is by no means a rationale for pumping more dollars into one area. There has to be a rational plan for efficiently using the money.

Unfortunately for teachers, they are on the wrong side of the demographic bubble.

The number of school-age children is decreasing while the number of seniors is set to explode. The natural result will be fewer teachers and lower relative salaries.

The BCTF won't be able to keep the tide from going out.

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