The NDP Opposition, joined in the Legislature today by teacher Jessica Brown and educational assistant Desiree Hamilton, both from Saskatoon, issued a call-to-action for the government to address declining per student funding and climbing class sizes in Saskatchewan classrooms.
“The gulf between the reality facing educators in the classroom and this government’s talking points just keeps widening,” said Education Critic Carla Beck. “Faced with increasingly complex classrooms, teaching staff are doing their best to make sure every student gets the support they need, but they keep having to do more with less.”
Teachers throughout the province have taken to social media to talk about the 30, 40, and even 50-student classrooms they have to manage. And Jessica speaks of growing challenges facing teachers in the classroom, including mental health needs, anxiety and depression being diagnosed as young as Grade 2, and more and more students with learning disabilities but without the individualized supports they need.
“The Saskatchewan public has a right to a high-quality, publicly funded education system that equips every student to succeed,” Jessica said. “The Government of Saskatchewan has a responsibility to increase funding significantly in order to adequately support every student in the province — and it needs to happen now.”
Desiree works with children with intensive needs and complex challenges. Being bitten, kicked, or punched by her students isn’t out of the ordinary, as many have complex needs. Like other educational assistants across the province, she works hard so that every student gets the support they need, but there simply aren't enough staff, and growing class sizes make an already challenging situation increasingly difficult.
“Instead of burying their heads in the sand and hiding behind misleading statistics, this government needs to hear what educators likes Desiree and Jessica are saying and then do something about it,” Beck said. “That starts with understanding the importance of the investment we make in education and properly funding kids’ education.”