This is a political post that is really only of interest to BC Residents. I apologize if it doesn't apply to you.
OK folks, I'm going to talk a little bit about the new "Rural Schools Funding" announced by the Provincial government.
On one hand, I applaud the recognition (about 15 years too late) that rural schools don't work the same way as urban schools, both financially and in terms of their importance to the community.
On the other hand, though, the breathtaking hypocrisy of the Liberal government announcing that they "support" rural schools infuriates me.
Why were rural schools being closed to begin with? Declining enrollment is certainly part of it, but the bigger issue is the long, slow strangulation of the entire school system, the systematic gutting of the decision-making power of school boards and the general hostility towards schools in general and rural schools in particular displayed by this government.
Starved of funds and forced by legislation to "balance" their increasingly unbalance-able books, school boards have been making the heartbreaking decision to close schools. The boards understand the importance of the schools to the communities in questions, but have been left with no choice other than to take this step. Faced with the unavoidable backlash from communities and families, they can only point to the grim financial reality - "we can't afford to keep your school open".
Once those decisions have been made - splitting open communities, setting neighbors against one another, the Liberals have the unbelievable gall to announce "surprise" new funding, available for "some" schools, "if the school board applies for it." So after the school board takes the heat for your funding shortfalls, the Liberals get to "save" local schools. In the best tradition of the rainmaker, though, it isn't guaranteed, and the responsibility is still laid on the school boards. Success is because of the Liberals, failure is because of the school board.
Well fuck that. Schools are being closed because of the Liberal government decisions to gradually choke the education system, and associated Teachers Unions, into submission. The decision to take autonomy and authority away from local school boards and consolidate it in Victoria. The Liberals aren't "saving" rural schools, they are killing them. And this hypocritical announcement is meant to cast them as heroes who are listening to the public.
And the fact that it comes a year before the next provincial election is surely coincidence, right? Well I'm not fooled, and hopefully you won't be either.