This is the

Published by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation

Education can’t afford to be bypassed

Posted: 03/16/17 9:00am CST

Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised that we continue to wait for news of the educational governance review.

This is, after all, not the wacky world of U.S. President Donald Trump where you can expect an immediate, bombastic reaction. In the current climate of Saskatchewan politics however, the wheels still move at a somewhat slower pace.

As the conjecture now seems to focus on the results being unveiled simultaneously with the provincial budget on March 22, one can’t help but wonder if this is an effort to be thorough in hearing back from the panel, or is it perhaps more calculated than that? If, as we are told frequently, there will be all sorts of belt-tightening measures to somehow balance the budget despite a billion plus deficit, then there will be no shortage of scenarios.

Therefore, it might make a convenient deflection for the PreK-12 education sector to not be overly scrutinized in the grand scheme of things.

As a neutral observer, it would be lamentable for any portfolio that might fall victim to the less-than-rosy financial picture. But no matter how you rationalize this, there surely can’t be an area that can less afford to be shortchanged than education for the youth of the province.

Let’s for a moment hold the provincial government to its word on this; how many times have you heard that education is a priority and that at the end of the day this is all about the students?

There has arguably never been a time when it’s more important for these pledges to be honoured. Of course we know that the calculators have pretty much been put away aside from any last-minute tinkering.

Allow me, however, to just draw what is surely an unwanted analogy for the Saskatchewan Party folks. Doubtlessly the whole Regina bypass fiasco would be best forgotten, but if on the fateful day next month, PreK-12 education suffers the same fate and is “bypassed,” then the billion dollar boondoggle that has drawn so much ire will seem almost insignificant when compared to what deep cuts might mean to classrooms and the teachers and students inside them.

From personal experience I can easily cite numerous examples of how teachers are making a real difference for children. This translates to a better future and it has absolutely nothing to do with whether the price of oil is $33 or $73, or somewhere in between. Yes, we all understand the basics here from the math that we learned in school, but this requires a more comprehensive strategy that is focused on the future and not the next election cycle.

Students and their education cannot be lumped in with commodity prices of the day. While it is very likely that the price of oil, uranium and potash will bounce back in the years ahead, it’s nowhere near as easy to somehow expect students and the education system to follow suit if there is to be any sort of slash-and-burn strategy invoked. Find efficiencies by all means, but this can’t strictly be about balancing the books. There is too much at stake here to look for quick-fix solutions.

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