‘We are run ragged’: NDP education survey highlights crisis in Sask. classrooms

NDP Leader Ryan Meili, along with Education critic Carla Beck, shared the findings of the Saskatchewan NDP’s “Brighter Future” education survey this morning while addressing the Saskatoon Teachers’ Association Convention. The results paint a clear picture of a deepening crisis in Saskatchewan classrooms, with staff morale and learning conditions for students suffering, and kids facing more complex classrooms with fewer supports.

“As a parent myself, it’s hard to see the sacrifices teachers in this province are making as the Sask. Party’s cuts to education filter down,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “Our kids’ classrooms are increasingly crowded and the government continues to let teachers and kids down.”

The NDP’s “Brighter Future” education survey received submissions from over 1,400 people across Saskatchewan. Eighty-three per cent of teachers and 77 per cent of Educational Assistants said the situation in our schools has gotten worse in the last three years. Fifty-six per cent of parents said that learning conditions have worsened in the last three years. Eighty-three per cent of respondents supported a cap on classroom sizes in Saskatchewan.

“Students simply aren’t getting the supports they need, and teachers are worried about how to meet their students’ needs,” said NDP Education Critic Carla Beck. “This government continues to let our students, teachers and parents down with cuts and underfunding and by breaking the Premier’s promise to add 400 EAs to our schools.”

Almost 40 per cent of respondents were teachers, and of them, 83 per cent said the number of students with additional needs in their classrooms has increased over the last few years. Eighty-six per cent of Educational Assistants agreed, with 42 per cent going on to say that students in their classes rarely or never get the support they need. 

The survey results show the toll that cuts are taking on teachers and Educational Assistants. Forty-one percent of teachers said that they “rarely” (36 per cent) or “never” (five per cent) have enough support to meet the needs of their students. Two out of five teachers (41 per cent) said they have seriously considered leaving the profession. 

“With so many cuts, it becomes harder and harder to do the job,” one teacher wrote. “This leads to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and feeling inadequate as a teacher. You put your heart into a job and can’t help students the way you’d like to.”

Educational Assistants expressed similar sentiments, with one writing, “The needs are higher, and we are run ragged. I go home every day knowing I haven’t met the needs of my children and haven’t help them reach their full potential.”

Administrators are struggling with the consequences of underfunding as well. “I love my job and I love my students and I feel blessed that I get to feel passion for what I do, but that passion fizzles out a little every time I have to look a student in the eye knowing I don’t have the resources to give them all they need,” one wrote. 

Meili took exception to the government’s repeated bragging that funding had been restored to 2016 levels in this year’s budget, pointing out that with rising costs and thousands more students over the past three years, per-student funding continues to fall.

“The Sask. Party’s cuts are hurting kids, teachers and families,” said Meili. “The Saskatchewan NDP are committed to making our province the best place to be a kid, or to raise one. To do that, we need a government that will invest in quality education from early childhood on, to give everyone a strong start and an equal chance.”

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