With the school year heading into the final quarter, Saskatchewan’s teachers and public education supporters are preparing to deliver a strong message to the provincial government on funding. A rally is set for the steps of the Legislature on Saturday, April 29 for participants to express their concern over the lack of funding support for schools in this year’s provincial budget.
“Unfortunately, we have been seeing years and years of underfunding in the education sector, and teachers can no longer plug the gaps that have been created,” says Samantha Becotte, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation. “With cuts to supports for students, we are standing up and saying enough. We need to see some investments to ensure our students’ success.”
Becotte says that government contributions to education simply haven’t kept up to the reality of today’s classrooms. With the funding erosion, class sizes have increased, and in rural areas, the proliferation of multi-graded classrooms has diminished teachers’ ability to deliver the program.
I talked to a teacher earlier in the year about their class, and while it was a number around twenty, they were teaching eight different curricula to that group of twenty,” explained Becotte. “We also know that there are more students in our classroom who have more intensive needs. We’re seeing about 40 percent of our students who are requiring additional supports. Because of underfunding, we have fewer professionals in our schools available to help them.
An example, Becotte says, is the situation with educational psychologists. The wait ranges from around six months to upwards of two to three years for students to see someone.
“You think about a kindergarten student coming in, needing to get an assessment done, and having to wait two years for their teacher to find out what supports are needed for the student.”
Rally participants will gather on the steps at 12 noon to voice their concerns. Becotte says teachers from across the province are encouraged to attend. She’s received word that teachers from the province’s north will be making a 10 hour drive one way to join their colleagues. It’s not just teachers that have an interest in delivering the message.
“Everyone is welcome to attend. Public education should be important to everyone in the province. As a parent I want the best for my children; as a teacher I want the best for all children across the province. Aside from that, business owners want high quality workers coming to work for them out of the K-12 system. People in health care benefit from having Saskatchewan raised people going through education supporting the health care system by becoming workers in our province.”
The investment in education lays the groundwork for successful people, strong institutions, and vibrant lives for all participants, Becotte believes. It’s why the STF supports the rally and is prepared to deliver a message to the government - a message the STF says needs to be heard. More information is available on the STF website.