Meili gives Moe failing grade for education cuts, broken promises

With teachers across the province preparing their report cards as the school year comes to an end, the Saskatchewan NDP is issuing a failing grade to Scott Moe’s Sask. Party government. Specifically, Meili called on Moe to account for his broken promise of 400 additional EAs and presented new numbers showing a significant decline in classroom supports over the past few years. This comes as school boards across the country are forced to cut staff and programs or run deficits as they grapple with rising costs and insufficient provincial funding.

“We’ve added 10,000 more kids to our classrooms over the past five years, but supports for those kids have fallen dramatically, leaving kids, educators and parents struggling,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “We’ve heard over and over from educators and parents through our Brighter Future education survey that teachers simply can’t keep up with growing classrooms and declining supports.”

“And this after Scott Moe won the leadership of his party thanks in part to the support of teachers. They trusted him when he said he had a plan to add 400 Educational Assistants to our schools. Where are those EAs he promised?”

According to the provincial government’s K-12 Student Headcount Enrollment Summary, support staffing levels have not only failed to keep pace with rising enrollment — in many cases, they’ve actually fallen as student enrolment rose. Since 2014/2015:

  • There are fewer non-educator support positions
  • There are 11% fewer counselling positions
  • There are 9% fewer psychologists
  • There are 8% fewer speech language pathologists
  • There are 18% fewer occupational therapists
  • There are only 1.3% more EAs (46, vs. the 400 promised)
  • There are 8% fewer English as an Additional Language teachers, despite 10% more EAL students across K-12 system, and 17% more EAL students in Regina divisions

An FOI obtained by the NDP shows that the number of kids in school divisions requiring intensive supports in our schools grew by 9.6% in the 5 years between 2012-13 and 2017-18. The increase in kids requiring “frequent” intensive supports grew by 13% over the same time period.

Further cuts in support levels seem inevitable, as school boards across the province formulate their budgets and are forced to reduce staff, dip into reserves, or both. Last week, for example, Saskatoon Public announced that home economics and industrial arts would no longer be offered.

“Education is the single most important investment we can make in our future,” said Meili. “Premier Moe secured his own future by promising educators he’d do the work that was needed, but instead he’s let the crisis in our classrooms deepen. For anyone who recognizes the importance of education, this kind of performance should get a failing grade.”