Policy Note by Suzanne Smythe: Lifting tuition fees for adult basic education is just the beginning

Suzanne Smythe is one of the BC educators who started the Adult Basic Education is a Basic Right! blog in response to the BC Liberals 2014 policy changes that ushered in a bleak period for adult basic education (ABE) learners in the province. Now it is August 2017, and the new BC NDP government has fulfilled a key election promise – the reinstatement of tuition-free ABE. Tuition-free ABE is one part of a larger discussion, and Symthe gives a welcome and full explanation here in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – BC Policy Note (August 29, 2017).

 

Advertisements

Education must be seen as a core component of BC’s economic strategy – SFU President Andrew Petter

From Charlie Smith’s article in the Georgia Straight, May 28, 2016:

“Today, over 95,000 B.C. residents are not employed because they have not obtained a level of education adequate to meet current employers’ needs.’ And while some of this educational shortfall is in trades and applied skills, the largest gap, it turns out, is in bachelor- and graduate-level education.”

Part of the reason is that 57 percent of B.C. employers require applicants to have university degrees.

_____________________________

Petter told the Vancouver Board of Trade there needs to be a “greater appreciation for the role of human capital in advancing our position in the world economy”.

“Instead of calling upon universities and colleges merely to respond to predetermined labour market demands, we need to empower our institutions to develop our labour markets and to drive our economic future,” the SFU president said. “While our competitors in Europe and Asia invest in education as a primary feature of their economic strategies, we look to our natural resources and appear to regard education—pardon the pun—as secondary.”

Read the full article here.

SFU president Andrew Petter says education must be seen as a core component of B.C.’s economic strategy

By Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight, May 28, 2016

http://www.straight.com/news/706976/sfu-president-andrew-petter-says-education-must-be-seen-core-component-bcs-economic

 

 

Elizabeth James’ “Just Asking” column on ABE in the North Shore News

North Shore News columnist Elizabeth James calls on the BC government to reinstate free adult basic education.

Whatever the reason may be, the government’s decision to discriminate against a “person or class of persons…” on the basis of age is not only unconscionable, it contravenes the Human Rights Act.

As Prof. Markwick reminds us, Plant wrote, “Failure to complete high school … limits job and career options and is often associated with poor life outcomes such as higher criminality, poorer health and a greater dependence on social services …”

Read James’ full article.

B.C.’s blueprint for education fails adult learners
ELIZABETH JAMES
MAY 24, 2016

http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/columnists/james-b-c-s-blueprint-for-education-fails-adult-learners-1.2261903

“I am pleased and honoured to accept this role that brings me back to Capilano University at a time of dynamic development and adaptation to meet the diverse needs of today’s students.”
— J. Paul Dangerfield

When J. Paul Dangerfield takes up his position as president and vice-chancellor of Capilano University in October, we can only hope his proven skills in communication and leadership development can reopen the doors to free basic education for students ages 19 and over who, for diverse reasons, need those courses.

Michael Markwick, professor in the university’s School of Communication and spokesperson for educationfairness.ca explained the issue this way: “In 2015, the Clark government replaced a fair system of free access to basic education for learners 19 or older with an unwieldy patchwork of limited, income-based and taxable grants that are capped at three years.”

The immediate result for Cap has been declining enrolment in the adult basic education courses. In turn, this bars vulnerable students from aspiring to a university education and broader career opportunities.

North Shore student Kat Sorritelli knows the effect only too well.

As an A-B student, Kat graduated from high school in 2005 and worked until she took maternity leave in 2013. Five months after returning to work in 2014, her job came to an end. At that point, Kat re-evaluated the future she was facing for herself and her daughter.

“It was not an easy decision but I chose to return to school to give us both a better life. It will give us more security and stability for the future,” she said.

In order for Kat to pursue that path, her decision meant she needed to upgrade her outdated high school levels in mathematics and science.

Her problem with that has become one of affordability. Now the grants are calculated according to income — and taxed as well. Kat says it was the worst feeling to have to ask her family for money. The changes to the provincial rules also mean she can only afford one course per semester which, right now, is pre-calculus 11.

“I feel this takes money away from three generations — my family, myself and, indirectly, my daughter,” Kat said.

So what happened to then B.C. Liberal attorney general Geoff Plant’s lofty Campus 2020 recommendations?

As Prof. Markwick reminds us, Plant wrote, “Failure to complete high school … limits job and career options and is often associated with poor life outcomes such as higher criminality, poorer health and a greater dependence on social services …”

Is that the future our society wants for Kat and for other vulnerable students?

Over the long term and no matter their age, ensuring a person’s basic education or upgrading their skills is an investment, not a cost to society.

In January 2015, when outgoing Cap president Kris Bulcroft announced she would be stepping down this July — a year beyond the end of her contract — she said she hoped the extra time would enable her to help guide the school through some looming challenges, not the least of which would be the third million-dollar budgetary deficit in a row.

Yet right out of the starting gate, and for some still unexplained reason, Capilano University has never received the level of funding former premier Gordon Campbell allocated to other colleges when he upgraded them to university status. Why is that, Premier Clark? No bafflegab, straight out, why is that?

Whatever the reason may be, the government’s decision to discriminate against a “person or class of persons…” on the basis of age is not only unconscionable, it contravenes the Human Rights Act.

Saying she knows two students who could not register this semester because ABE tuition fees were reinstated, Kat worries declining enrolment will lead to program cuts.

“I feel the government wants the population to be dumb. I am a hard-working, tax-paying single mother who just wants her basic education back so that I can become an even better contributing member of the community,” she said.

For the well-being of our North Shore community, and especially for the younger generation, it would be good to hear how the incoming president plans to persuade the province to “right the basic education ship” and enable Cap to steer a steady course and fulfil the mandate it was given to make that education available to all, regardless of age and financial status.

After 16 years with the multi-disciplinary Perinatal Programme of B.C. and later in various endeavours in the growing high-tech industry, Elizabeth James now connects the dots every second Wednesday on local, regional and provincial issues. She can be reached via email at rimco@shaw.ca.
© 2016 North Shore News

“VSB cites ‘chronic’ underfunding in rejecting budget cuts…”

As reported by Bethany Lindsay in the Vancouver Sun, April 28, 2016

“Vancouver School Board chairman Mike Lombardi said his fellow Vision trustees have long said they are prepared to face the consequences of voting against the budget, and railed against what they describe as chronic government underfunding.”

“Green trustee Janet Fraser was the deciding vote….”

“The 5-4 ‘No’ vote elicited a noisy standing ovation from the large audience of parents and teachers.”

See link to full article. http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/vsb-cites-chronic-underfunding-in-rejecting-budget-cuts-by-5-4-vote