Letters: Other side of private schools

It is understandable that those not familiar with private schools may have misconceptions about them.

Editor, The News:

Re: Private system taking from public stream (Letters, June 18).

It is understandable that those not familiar with private schools may have misconceptions about them, including the funding.

It is also true that there are elite schools, but they are the exception, not the rule.

However, letters such as Nina Fowell’s and others indicate that there is clearly a need for addressing the other side of this issue.

Perhaps our own experience, together with that of many of our friends and relatives may be helpful for this.

Shortly after we immigrated to Canada in 1954, the pastor of our church suggested that we should establish a Christian school, which we wholeheartedly endorsed, even though most of us were relatively poor immigrants.

Because of that, we had to make many and severe sacrifices, including constant fundraising events and a lot of free labour, since there was no government funding of any kind.

In 1956-57, we were able to build our first (modest) building, which doubled as our place of worship on Sundays.

When the provincial school tax was introduced, we all paid our full share, like anyone else, and still do to this very day.

Why did we sacrifice like that?

It was and still is out of principle.

Even while we adhered to the provincial curriculum, we knew that our children should be taught in a Christian environment and by Christian teachers.

It was not until 1977 that the government began partially funding some of our costs, but only for the education part.

These government funds are calculated on a per student basis, only when taught the curriculum as laid out in the provincial education ministry’s guidelines.

By now you must have realized that land, buildings, maintenance and all other related costs are still fully paid for by the parents and their supporters.

In addition, in our church and many others, we still have regular collections for an education fund to help those who are unable to pay their share of the costs, including those with special needs.

The current dispute between the BCFT and the government is a separate issue, which I shall not comment on, except to offer my personal opinion that ESL classes ought not to be taught in elementary grades.

I base that on my own experience.

When we came to Canada, early in May, 1954, my youngest brother did not go to school until September of that year.

By that time, he could speak English better than any of us who had studied English in Holland, most of us right through high school.

He learned that simply through playing with the few kids that were in our neighbourhood.

Walter Verwoerd

Maple Ridge

‘Our children deserve the best education’

Editor, The News:

Recently I had occasion to visit Blue Mountain elementary for a ceremony and was surprised and impressed by how well behaved all the children were.

The teachers appeared to have an easy time keeping the kids quiet, but I am sure a lot of work went into it.

I couldn’t help  comparing them to our MLAs in the Legislature. I went over to Victoria  last year and visited the Legislature during one of the few months the government was in session. I had a great seat over the Liberal benches and noted seven MLAs with their cellphones under the desk, texting away or playing games and paying no attention to what was happening.

Then all the desk-thumping and cat-calling like a bunch of unruly teenagers. I could not see what the opposition MLAs were doing other than sitting and taking it.

It saddens me to think we pay all these people high wages and great benefits to go to the Legislature when they show this type of behaviour, then they complain about teachers demands for better conditions to teach in the classroom.

The children are our future and deserve the best education we can give them, along with the best conditions that we can give them in which to learn.

Stan Hutchison

Maple Ridge