Time is right for leadership in education

It's time the province stopped treating school districts like prodigal songs on fixed allowances.

We can see some logic in one of the overarching principles of the B.C. Liberal approach to education.

It is true the province cannot afford to bankroll the system in complete disregard for declining enrollment numbers; some form of consolidation is more than prudent, it’s necessary.

What is completely asinine, however, is the way the government has handed communities across the province a brand-new expense without giving them the proper tools to deal with it.

We are referring, of course, to the deal the provincial bargaining agent for B.C.’s school districts just struck with support staff workers.

The deal — which calls for raises of 3.5 per cent over two years — is hardly ridiculous, given the cost of living is likely to go up four per cent during that same period. Yet the province has left it up to the local school districts — which rely almost entirely on government per-student grants to operate — to find that money.

And the money will be found in the same places it has always been found under the Liberal tenure: school closures, program cutbacks, decreased maintenance and layoffs.

It’s time the province stopped treating school districts like prodigal sons on fixed allowances. It’s time it started taking some responsibility and provided some leadership.

Part of that is providing some direction on where school districts should be headed and the resources necessary to pay for what has happened and what has to happen.

The cycle has been spiralling downward for more than a decade. Step up and help turn this thing around.

—Cowichan News Leader Pictorial