Education or ignorance?

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To the Editor,
The protest rally over planned cuts in education held Sunday in Charlottetown played host to a variety of speakers from parents to politicians and extended to our educators.

Many aspects of our declining student achievement were discussed with the majority of viewpoints supporting the line of thinking that Island children need the present number of teachers to remain in the public school system, with the possibility of additional teacher resources if we shifted our mandate to address our student needs and not our budgetary obligations; after all, these children are our future

Now we appreciate we are living in fiscally challenging times. But is removing teachers and educational assistants from our schools an attempt to cover misspent monies from this administration?

Whatever the reason, I find it hard to believe that, in 2014, any government would find it forward thinking to not invest in education. Especially following the spanking the province received in our recent assessments.

Our government continues to slash and cut a system that has been frantically waving a white flag for the sake of our children. Giles Arsenault, president of the P.E.I. Teachers Federation hit the nail on the head when he stated that it is time for our administration to utilize a staffing model that speaks to the needs of our children and not to hide behind statistics like class sizes and student/teacher ratios that fail to reveal the realities of Island classrooms.

The Minister of Education, Alan McIsaac, set up a smoke and mirror play by stating that although some schools would see a loss of Reading Recovery Programs, seven Island schools would be receiving a Primary Literacy Intervention Program. Sounds good, right? Cue the smoke and mirrors. The Primary Literacy Intervention Program is not a new initiative. How is this encouraging stronger student achievement?

Minister McIsaac then eluded at the rally to the discrepancies in our class sizes in a urban versus rural comparison. Do smaller rural school students deserve less quality programming than our overcrowded urban counterparts? Do our overcrowded urban facilities not deserve intervention in the form of smaller class sizes and also have access to adequate teacher resources?

He then stated that the budget for education has ballooned over the past several years. Well, what budget hasn’t?

We all realize that cost is an issue, but if you think education is expensive, try funding ignorance.

Patty Vandiepen

Green Meadows

Organizations: P.E.I. Teachers Federation

Geographic location: Iceland, Green Meadows

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