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Letter: Burnaby teachers burned out by COVID-19 won't forget these budget cuts

With teachers being cut, one person is asking why there isn't more funding?
Classroom with young children COVID
Young children wearing masks in classroom


Teachers will never forget this.

The BC Teachers’ Federation has written about the chronic underfunding for the education system and the pandemic has now highlighted the fragility of the system even more. All of the districts are now facing devastating budget cuts. Recovery from a pandemic means the education system needs more, not less.

Tonight, May 25, at the Burnaby public board meeting, the new school budget was passed for 2021-22. Even with their obvious focus of as minimal impacts as possible on students, particularly vulnerable students, cuts had to be made.  

The financial situation for the Burnaby district in coming years are unstable, at best. Debt is forecasted as the whole education system is being sucked down the river rapids. How dire does the situation need to be before the government will react?

Provincial government: Action speaks louder than words. 

When the province doesn’t properly financially fund schools, it doesn’t just strip schools of physical and educational resources. Cuts in school budgets have more than just financial repercussions. There are emotional costs to those who are the survivors of layoffs in the workplace. The teachers and support staff who are still working in the schools, deal with the psychological ripple effects. 

Teachers will never forget this. They will always remember when they were on the front lines during a pandemic, risking their own health, their family’s health, carrying the weight of society’s most precious potential, the government wasn’t there to support them. They were just expected to trust the system, hang on tight and go with the flow. 

We need teachers to feel appreciated, to feel worthy, to feel valued by their communities and that will transfer into teachers who are more motivated, more emotionally secure, more intellectually driven, for them to support the wide range of diverse needs in each of their students. The relentless slow drip of pandemic stress is wearing down even the most seasoned educators.

When the government needed the educational professionals to come to society’s aid, they responded. Now the school districts and community need the government for support. Where is the government? An intentional no response is a response.

In a survey conducted by CBC News “more than 80% of principals and vice-principals who responded to the questionnaire said they are very worried about teacher burnout.” No one connected to the world of education is ever going to forget the statement made by the lack of action from this government. As a parent with two children in the public education system, I will never forget this either.

Kim Block, Burnaby