To raise graduation rates, school underfunding must end: NDP

Classrooms underfunded by $2.4 billion, according to new report

Following a report that looks at education funding, the NDP said Saskatchewan’s flagging graduation rates aren’t likely to turn around as long as cuts continue in classrooms.

Saskatchewan schools are underfunded by $2.4 billion, according to Underinvesting in Our Future, a report on education funding from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, released Wednesday. That backs up what parents, teachers, students and school boards in Saskatchewan already know – that even during a boom, the Sask. Party was asking teachers and classrooms to do more with less. As a result, Saskatchewan’s flagging graduation rates haven’t improved one bit – they’re stuck at 74.8 per cent.

“Students have lost educational assistants, and many of them are in classrooms with 35 kids or more,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “We have classrooms that are cramped and crowded, and in which the teacher has to respond to pressures and complexity, juggling the needs of strong students, struggling students and students with additional needs – all without help, or enough help. That’s not fair to anyone in that classroom, and it’s simply not going to result in better graduation rates.”

Wotherspoon said having only three of every four students in Saskatchewan finish high school on time or close to on time is simply not good enough.

“This province should be telling every child that they matter, and that they’re a priority,” said Wotherspoon. “Our goal has to be to ensure that every child has the tools and support they need to achieve their highest potential. But, education is also an investment. This is Saskatchewan’s future economy, our next workforce and the next generation of leaders in our province. A well-resourced, well-supported education system is what’s best for Saskatchewan’s future.”

Despite dramatic underfunding right from the beginning of the year, the Sask. Party government scrapped the mid-year adjustment that used to provide funding for additional students that register and arrive after the start of the school year, shortchanging stressed classrooms further.  

Wotherspoon said education funding should be based on need and enrollment, and that a new, more fair and more responsive education funding formula should be put in place.