LETTER: Is it help, or a bribe?

Give the rich and poor $40 per day to corrupt logic. Pit classes against each other and abscond with public education funding.

Isn’t this $40 per day (being offered to parents who have children missing school due to the BC teachers ongoing labour dispute) a bribe?

And won’t it cost school districts to open up whether kids are there everyday or not?

Are there not fixed costs that rely upon getting a full yearly head count?

But, isn’t that the point? Give the rich and poor $40 per day to corrupt logic. Pit classes against each other and abscond with public education funding for wealthy private schools. This is an outright assault on public funded education.

How? The endless negotiations have worn down their adversaries’ coffers. Despite legal rulings against them (both school boards and teachers’ unions), the wealth backed government has continued to institute cuts to education which, unless you really spend a day in a classroom and compare it to what you remember about your own education, you’d miss.

Another way to look at it is when I was a kid my parents bought relatively few supplies (the rest were handed out in class) because it’s not practical or cheaper, the schools used to supply a stock of basics. No more, that’s on us, rich or poor we all gots-ta-buy.

Field trips and extra curriculars used to be supported by school districts and there was some funding for these things, but now parents fork out hundreds more for activities which were at least mostly covered.

My budget for one son’s extra curriculars this year: $800+. Second son: $450. Add hot lunches and other school programs: $400  each. It adds up to an underfunded and horrible expense for working poor folks, many of whom are really too proud to admit this thing is costing too much.

Carbon taxes have reduced school spending on education while returning education funds to government general revenue (and then used to build carbon polluting wood burning steam power generators at sawmills!).

Do not underestimate the impact of heating and fuel costs to districts — they amount to a giant lump of coal in the stocking, and they exacerbate the funding gap created by a flat per head rate.

Districts in the Kootenays and the North pay much more for heat and transportation which is not duly re-compensated. It simply means our kids get less of the good stuff than kids in the Okanagan and Lower Mainland.

How about those special needs kids, trouble cases, and young offenders? They need school more than anyone, but how does their integration actually work out?

Are they actually given enough support. Teachers’ aides are often the first to go when budgets are pinched again. The kids are being given “half day support” and parents are asked to take their kids out of class at random hours etc. The rest of the children are being under-attended and “neglectful” policies result directly from the government that would cut the nose off to spite the face.

These policies ensure children compete for teacher time, and those who have poverty and other issues stemming from lack of funding suffer most while kids who can afford to pay for extra curricular involvement get better teacher support.

So now the latest stone thrown by the rich. A hideous attempt at initiating class warfare uses a basic economic principle. Economic logic changes depending on your circumstances. Rich parents will use this $40 differently than the poor ones.

Rich folks will use this as a boost to stash away for their kids future — education savings bonds, or the wealthy will send their kids to private schools and use this money as a subsidy (a public funded boost for private schools to expand their roles).

This will rob the schools of more kids and reduce funding further for those schools upon which working class and below depend exclusively.

Meanwhile, the poor will be glad to have a $40 a day break and they will naturally use the money to pay down debt, pay off bills, create a few happy days for kids who never get enough… and so on. Will they cry while their kids’ future is being revoked? Yes, but can they afford to say no to this bribe? No.

And that leaves it to us, those in between. The largest group. A group under siege to pay for all of it (it’s our taxes that pay it all).

Somebody says to me, “Hey Jay! Take this money, and you can push your kids up the chain.”

In all practicality, who says no to this much money? I say it’s horribly unethical and no matter how much I get paid I understand the bitter irony.

Thanks for making me dirty Christy Clark.

Jason Peil


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