Cutting 249 teachers in New Brunswick's schools is "an attack on the future of New Brunswick," says the president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association.
The three per cent cut to the province's teachers' ranks was announced Tuesday as a budget measure, with Finance Minister Roger Melanson citing declining enrolment as the reason behind the move.
"it's obvious to me that this government is looking to start balancing the books on the backs of children," said NBTA president Peter Fullerton.
"It appears as though some bean-counters sat down, looked at the number of students in the province, used an old and antiquated formula, and said, `Based on ratios, this is how many teachers we should have."
New Brunswick's enrolment has fallen below 100,000 students, declining more than 20 per cent since 2000.
Fullerton argues there have been "tremendous changes in the system since the year 2000."
"The needs of students certainly changed," he said.
Fullerton pointed to government-commissioned reports in 2005 and 2012 that indicated the education was "under-resourced" at those times.
Taking 249 teachers out of the system will impact on the province's ability to address low literacy levels, said Fullerton.
Melanson said the province intends to achieve most of the reduction through attrition, as about 200 teachers retire annually.
'This is an attack on the education system here in New Brunswick and parents, grandparents, should be concerned about the future of their children.' - Peter Fullerton, NBTA president
However, that doesn't appease the teachers' union.
"That is 249 positions that will not be replaced within the system, so it is a cut," said Fullerton. "It is a tremendous cut."
Speaking on Information Morning in Fredericton, Fullerton quoted from statements provided to the teachers' union during last year's election campaign: "The Liberal party believes one of the wisest investments a government can make is in its education system" and "We anticipate investing more in our education to meet our commitments and ending the process of cutting regardless of the negative impact on our students."
Those statements amount to an admission by the Liberals that they know a reduction of 249 teacherrs will hurt students, said Fullerton.
"This is an attack on the education system here in New Brunswick and parents, grandparents, should be concerned about the future of their children," he said.