Vulnerable children hurt by cuts to programs

Noel Herron, Vancouver Sun

Re: Flawed funding formula hurts vulnerable students, trustees say, April 21

The complaint by the Surrey school board that its most vulnerable inner city students are being treated like “second class students” under the provincial government’s current Community LINK program, (which stands for Learning and Nutrition and Knowledge and provides breakfast and lunch programs and additional support services to disadvantaged students), is right on the money.

However, Education Minister George Abbott is correct in noting “they (the Surrey school board members) are not alone in respect to these concerns,” noting other districts, such as Coquitlam, are in difficulty.

For the past seven years, B.C. has the unenviable record of leading this country in child poverty.

Here are some, but not all, of the callous cutbacks and deferrals of services to our poorest kids: added or increased fees for hot lunch programs in both elementary and secondary schools; elimination of the few existing junior kindergarten programs for three and four-year-old inner city preschoolers; dropping of counselling services at both elementary and secondary levels; elimination of before – and after – school care and community based daycare; cutbacks to learning assistance and skill development programs of which there is a disproportionate need by disadvantaged students; and, equally as important, as poverty spreads its tentacles across B.C., the deferral of a host of supportive community health and social services for needy children and families.

Add to this the ongoing impact of a decade of cumulative cutbacks to regular K-12 school programs and the belated plea by Surrey school trustees for their impoverished schools is well founded.