Students suffer due to lack of classroom supplies and support say teachers
'I was dumpster diving to get some materials that I can use for a lab,' said one science teacher
The provincial government says people only have to look at B.C. students' high marks for proof of how well funded the school system is, but some teachers say it is a struggle to meet the needs of every student due to the lack of resources.
B.C. Education Minister Mike Bernier told CBC Tuesday the numbers show students are performing well.
"We have some of the best outcomes in the English-speaking world here in British Columbia," he said.
But teachers say funding shortages, like the VSB's projected $24 million shortfall this year, hurt students the most when teachers can't afford basic classroom resources.
"I think the minister's comments are a bit of a bait and switch," said Tobey Steeves, a humanities teacher at Lord Byng Secondary in Vancouver.
"It keeps us thinking the government's funding is meeting the needs of students while we've got teachers in classrooms who are struggling every day to do that."
Leanne Brown is head of the science department at Vancouver Technical Secondary School and says her students are not learning as much hands-on science as she would like them to.
"The number of labs and the quality of the labs that we can do with the students has declined dramatically since I started teaching," she said.
Brown says she used to receive about $11 per student per year for classroom lab supplies when she first started teaching about 10 years ago. Her lab budget is now $5 per student and that makes it difficult to find supplies.
"I was dumpster diving to get some materials that I can use for a lab I'm doing this week and later next week," she said.
Support for students
Steeves says while it's important to recognize some students are still doing exceptionally well despite budget shortfalls, there are also students who need extra help. The lack of resources has a trickle-down effect and hurts students who need support the most, he said.
"We've got a lot of kids that are maybe not identified as having particular special needs or needing particular special support, but in reality … teachers are struggling to support these kids."
Brown agrees that teachers are having to take on more responsibilities than before.
"When I first started teaching there were more support teachers. They would meet with us about each individual student's' special needs. That's just not possible anymore."
To listen to the full interview, click the link labelled: Students suffer due to lack of classroom supplies and support say teachers.