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Maple Ridge rally organizers heard in Victoria

Stacy MacLennan (right) at one of the parent rallies for education funding she organized outside the office of MLA Marc Dalton.  - Neil Corbett/ The News
Stacy MacLennan (right) at one of the parent rallies for education funding she organized outside the office of MLA Marc Dalton.
— image credit: Neil Corbett/ The News

Parents, upset at the state of education funding, have taken their complaints directly to Victoria.

A frustrated Susan Carr and other Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school trustees urged parents to make their voices heard about the issue as they passed a 2014-2015 budget with more than $5 million in cuts for the second straight year.

The politicians had already written letters to the education ministry, with no apparent reaction.

Parents responded with rallies outside MLA Marc Dalton’s riding offices in Maple Ridge and Mission. One local rally attracted some 160 sign-toting people.

The organizer of that rally was Maple Ridge mom Stacy MacLennan, and she and another activist parent, Lisa Cable of Coquitlam, were invited to Victoria on Tuesday. They met with Education Minister Peter Fassbender, who gave them about 45 minutes of his time.

They have a Facebook page, Education Rallies for B.C., which invites people to tell their stories. One example was a family that was forced to sell their home and move to a school district that had adequate services for their special needs child. Cable gathered about 200 stories into a book, and presented it to the minister.

Told that the government doesn’t have enough revenue, MacLennan countered that taxpayers’ dollars should not be given to private schools “while the public system is in such a state of decay.”

She asserts that independent schools should lose their funding until government revenues improve.

“I was impressed with our meeting,” she said.

If it was a positive meeting, that wasn’t the attitude after the visitors were invited into question period.

“All the warm and fuzzy feelings went away when they started talking down there,” she said. “They’re like a bunch of five-year-olds banging on their tables and yelling at each other.”

MacLennan said the public rallies appear to be putting pressure on government, and will continue.

“It think it is working – especially with the growing support we’re getting,” she said.

“There’s a huge response – rallies are popping up all over the place.”

They are working toward a province-wide day of action on June 7.

• More information is available on the Facebook page.

 

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