FACE on Spice Radio

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On January 4, 2017, Jen Stewart of FACE did a wide-ranging interview with Spice Radio, in which she discussed the origins of FACE, the government’s failure to implement the Legislative Finance Committee’s funding recommendations, the slow pace of seismic upgrades, the firing of the Vancouver School Board, the premier’s newfound enthusiasm for public education investment, and what parents should know on the topic of education funding.

Click here to listen now or download for later.


FACE in the media: VSB budget

The Vancouver School Board’s proposed budget, including deep cuts to cover a $24 million shortfall, has received a lot of media coverage. Jen Stewart of FACE was quoted in the Globe and Mail on April 13; the FACE presentation to the VSB was featured in the Vancouver Sun on April 15; and Jen Stewart represented FACE and the Parent Advocacy Network on Roundhouse Radio on April 15.

Budget 2016: Will BC’s government respect citizens’ priorities?

Budget Day, February 16, is fast approaching. In case you missed it, here is an opinion piece by FACE member Jennifer Stewart that appeared in the Vancouver Sun online, November 24, 2015.

Opinion: Basic school maintenance is nothing to crow about

During the past decade, many B.C. schools have fallen into disrepair as a result of funding cuts. This state of affairs was evident in two very revealing news pieces that came out in recent days.

The first concerned a special grant of funding to school boards for certain “routine capital upgrade projects.” The news focused on the Vancouver School Board’s indignation at being completely left out of this funding. The exclusion of Vancouver is troubling, but just as disturbing is what was mentioned at the end of The Vancouver Sun article on Nov. 12: B.C. Liberal MLAs had, for the previous week, been sending out media releases trumpeting the funds that school boards in their ridings were to receive.

What is wrong with this picture? Education funding in B.C. has been cut so far, and school boards have had to do without routine capital funding for so long, that basic necessities like new boilers and roof replacements are viewed as extraordinary and treated as patronage plums for MLAs to crow about. Doing the bare minimum to keep a school in working order is seen as remarkable.

This pathetic state of affairs is reflected in the second piece of news. On Nov. 13, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released its report and recommendations for next year’s budget. The committee stated that, through a survey, it had found that public education is one of the highest priorities for B.C.’s citizens (along with health). However, it also stated “current funding levels and assistance are inadequate, which is causing significant operational and program delivery problems in schools throughout B.C.” It recommended “additional funding … to ensure the provision of quality public education and to properly meet the increased costs that schools are currently facing.”

As a representative of Families Against Cuts to Education, I was one of many people who made presentations to the committee about the urgent and long-standing need for adequate education funding. I am glad to know that the committee, which includes both government and opposition MLAs, heard us and made the unanimous recommendation for increased funding. Sadly, they made similar recommendations last year. Those recommendations were ignored in this year’s budget in favour of further cuts to public education ($54 million in “administrative savings”).

The government likes to argue that the cupboard is bare, so it must cut education funding rather than increase it.

There are two responses to this argument: First, British Columbians clearly indicated in the finance committee’s survey that B.C.’s vaunted budget surplus would be best spent on investments in infrastructure like schools.

Second, this is a matter of priorities. The B.C. Liberals have deprioritized and cut education funding at the same time that they green-lighted other infrastructure spending without a second thought. Practising selective austerity by repeatedly cutting the education budget while allowing massive projects like the $3-billion Massey Bridge to proceed without even a business plan is short-sighted and cruel — it penalizes children, and it shortchanges the future of the province.

Clearly, the citizens of B.C. want the government to fund public education properly — so that we not only have functional buildings, but the level of service that will allow the educational needs of all students to be met.

The B.C. Liberal MLAs on the finance committee obviously recognize that education is not being funded adequately and that the situation needs to be addressed. Will the government listen to its own MLAs? Will it finally hear the repeated pleas of its citizens for adequate education funding?

Decisions about next year’s budget are being made now. I urge British Columbians to write to their MLAs, the premier, and the minister of finance, telling them that enough is enough. It is time to do the right thing.

Jennifer Stewart is a founding member of Families Against Cuts to Education.


(There is still time to sign the petition in support of the Finance Committee’s recommendations for increased education funding.)

In the news: PAN and FACE postcard and petition campaign for Budget 2016

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On January 26, members of FACE and the Parent Advocacy Network (PAN) delivered over 1400 postcards and signatures to Education Minister Mike Bernier, care of Premier Christy Clark’s Vancouver office. The postcards and petition demand that the government follow the recommendations of the Select Standing Committee on Finance for increased public education funding in Budget 2016. The petition is open for signatures until February 16.

Media coverage included Jennifer Stewart of FACE on CBC’s Early Edition and BC Almanac, and Catherine Shaw of FACE in Ming Pao and News1130.

(photo by Amanda Hillis)

The growing list: FACE BC talks school supplies

From classroom technology and computers to photocopy paper and kleenex, the costs for school supplies are being downloaded to parents.

It’s because underfunding of public education by our provincial government. It’s parents footing the bill. And it is leading to inequity across BC’s schools — a two tier education system.

FACE BC’s Jennifer Stewart speaks to BC Almanac about the kinds of supplies BC’s parents are paying for and the impact it’s having on our public education system:

Listen to the Podcast.

FACE time would facilitate education co-operation

As published in The Vancouver Sun

Education is always a hot topic for parents and in the past 13 years, it’s been a hot topic for everyone in B.C. who values public education.

With funding cuts, growing class sizes, overdue seismic upgrades, labour disruptions, court appeals, and — most recently — threatened school closures, there’s been plenty to talk about. Many B.C. citizens have been trying to engage Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender in a meaningful dialogue.

Politics have pervaded the education discussion to such a degree it seems almost impossible to imagine the various stakeholders making collective decisions that will lead to a better day in public education. This zero-sum political approach is counter-productive to the goal of delivering quality public education for our children. Clark recently indicated the government intends to move forward in a spirit of co-operation, putting disputes in the past to ensure quality public education in British Columbia. Despite the cynicism that might be felt by British Columbians who have heard these words before, we can only hope for her sincerity, as the current approach is untenable. Continue reading FACE time would facilitate education co-operation

FACE-Vancouver on closing 19 VSB schools

Suggestion to close 19 Vancouver schools ‘short-sighted’: critics
The Vancouver Sun – June 11, 2015

A report that recommends the closure of 19 schools in Vancouver was deemed “short-sighted” and “offensive” by critics at a school board meeting Wednesday night.

Jennifer Stewart, the parent of a child at Simon Fraser elementary and a founder of Families Against Cuts to Education, called the suggestion of closing schools “short-sighted and ridiculous.” Continue reading FACE-Vancouver on closing 19 VSB schools

FACE-Vancouver: the need for seismic upgrades

B.C. schools need seismic upgrades, urges parent Jennifer Stewart
Early Edition, CBC Radio  – April 28, 2015

There are 202 schools in British Columbia rated by the government as “high-risk” and vulnerable to damage and structural failure in the case of an earthquake, and a Vancouver parent said officials aren’t working fast enough to make those schools safe.

“It’s always a reminder that we send many of our children to school to spend six hours a day in buildings that are rated with a high likelihood to fall down in the event of an earthquake,” Jennifer Stewart, a member of the Vancouver School District Parent Advisory Council and the founder of Families Against Cuts to Education told The Early Edition’s Rick Cluff.

Continue reading FACE-Vancouver: the need for seismic upgrades

Parents call for education rallies on April 12

Media coverage of Families Against Cuts to Education’s call for parents to hold rallies to protest underfunding of public education on April 12, 2015.

Continue reading Parents call for education rallies on April 12

Coverage of parents’ rallies across British Columbia – April 12

Families Against Cuts to Education’s April 12 parent rallies to protest underfunding of public education in the media.

Continue reading Coverage of parents’ rallies across British Columbia – April 12