Education’s future looks bleak

Education, health and other essential elements all suffering at the hands of provincial government.

I’m sure some are probably tired of this, but please entertain some last thoughts on my own high school graduation.

I am first going to refer to some of the issues I raised in my valedictory address, as I believe the point I was trying to make in that brief speech is important, not just to graduating students, but to the entire provincial education system.

Peter Fassbender, the current minister of education, was formerly the mayor of Langley city. In that capacity, he served as vice-chairperson of the Mayors’ Council on TransLink and helped steer that organization into its current state of chaos.

Previously, Fassbender also served as a school trustee, so he has more than a basic understanding of the issues facing today’s school districts, which makes his current attitudes even more difficult to understand or accept.

Since then, Fassbender has been elected to the provincial Liberal government, with which  he now serves as the minister of education, a position in which he seems intent upon leading us into a period of illiteracy and ignorance in his and Christy Clark’s ongoing battle with teachers.

Upon reviewing his accomplishments in transit and education, I can only hope and pray that Fassbender never becomes the minister of health, a potential catastrophe that could leave us all sitting on the curb in poor health and ignorance, awaiting buses that never arrive.

Education, health and other essential elements of life in British Columbia are all suffering at the hands of the provincial government’s lofty but impractical goal of balancing the budget.

The Liberal’s tight-fisted approach to fiscal matters may well be successful, but could more likely result in a bleak future for students, working people and senior citizens.

But we will have a balanced budget.

It reminds me of the old tale of the swine farmer who decided to cut back on his operational overhead by reducing the amount of feed he was purchasing. The operation was a huge success until the farmer’s swine herds began to die of starvation.

Fassbender’s miserly approach to school districts is not going to result in high standards of scholastic achievement as school districts and parents struggle to cope with the shortcomings created by budgetary strangulation.

To be fair, Fassbender is a prime target to blame for the current sordid educational funding mess, but he is also a victim of an archaic financial structure under which school districts operate.

A good example of this fiscal inadequacy is the unnecessarily complicated process of acquiring school sites and the capital cost of construction of schools. This has led to the situation in Albion where the elementary students living in the townhouse complex immediately adjacent to the Albion school will not be able to attend that school because the complex is not in Albion’s catchment area.

The inadequacies of the system have also resulted in teachers and school trustees turning to the political arena in attempts to find solutions to the multitude of problems they face.

Well, that’s enough of that serious stuff.

I have a couple of footnotes to add to the results of my graduation.

Having achieved such a worthy and long awaited goal, I looked forward to a future that would reflect a little more respect. But my lovely wife brought me back to earth the following day, when, as she was leaving our apartment on a shopping trip, she turned and said, “Can you get the dishes done before I get back.”

Now, I ask you, did that show much respect for my advanced education?

Myself, I didn’t think so.


– Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former city councillor.


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