Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Will the Education Fund improve classroom conditions?

The tentative agreement negotiated this week includes an Education Fund which replaces the Learning Improvment Fund (LIF). Will this improve classroom conditions? Not much, if at all.

The BCTF did an excellent analysis of the failure of the LIF, which I won't repeat here. But suffice it to say there are four main problems with the LIF:

1. it is about 1/4 of the funding needed for class sizes that match our previous language
2. some of the funding is spent on non-teacher resources
3. there is no method for fair allocation
4. there is no change in how classes are organized

The net result is that after several years of the LIF, classroom conditions are worse, not better.

The new Education fund only addresses one of these issues - spending on teachers. But this is insufficient to mean the fund will help you in your classroom. Here is the cold hard truth.


In terms of dollars, the new fund will be $80 million per year, instead of $75 million per year. The $400 million figure the BCTF is publishing is for the six years combined. So the increase is a mere $5 million dollars per year for 500,000 students. That is $10 per student per year. The same amount spent on the botched computer system BCeSIS. This is wholly inadequate. The original BCTF bargaining position of $225 million should have been our bottom line. Even that amount is far short of the $330 million removed from the 2002 legislation.

Teachers hired?

The new fund will be spent exclusively on teachers and this is an improvement. But the BCTF claim that this translates into 850 new positions per year is disingenuous. Firstly, as this REPLACES the LIF, the only new positions are those created by the extra $5 million and the funding that was previously used on Educational Assistants. In my District, the LIF was used to hire 6 additional teachers. With the changes to the Education Fund, this will likely change to 10-15. But as we have 45 schools, this means only 5-10 schools will see an additional teacher. Most school will see no change whatsover.

The supposed 850 new positions are really more like 3-400 new positions, and it is really important to understand that these positions are TEMPORARY. Both the Education Fund and the previous LIF were allocated each year on a year-by-year basis. So we will not see new additional teachers each year. Just like the LIF, we will see a couple of new hires in September who are then excess in June, and the process repeats.

Allocation of funds

As with the LIF, teachers will be consulted, but the District will ultimately make the decision. It has been an unhealthy and destructive process to have teachers and schools arguing over who should get the tiny pot of money.

Class composition

The new fund does nothing to change how classes are organized. Critically, with inadequate funds, Districts will continue to cluster students with Individual Education Plans into single classrooms and place EAs in those classes. Don't expect any changes to the number of classes with more than three students with an IEP.

In the BCTF analysis of the LIF, Larry Kuehn asks "How, then, if 500 teaching jobs were to be created by the fund, did the reported number of FTE teachers in the system actually fall by 33?" I fear with the Education Fund we will be asking the same question.


  1. Your analysis confirms my concern that classroom size and composition were not altered to reflect teacher's demands.

  2. I'm not a teacher and trying to wrap my head around all this info about this current agreement. This hardly seems worth the fight teachers had to give. It makes me a little bit more angry that the government couldn't put the effort in 2 summers ago, as this was very doable all along.

    Anyway, didn't come here to rant. I do not envy the position the teachers are in, but I will respect whatever decision they make. It is a tough one.

  3. Christie Clarke would have us believe that both sides, and the public, have won in these negotiations. There has to have been a loser; no doubt it's public education.

  4. I am a teacher and I am very sad with this current deal. It amazes me how things can be painted for the public to look so good. If you actually do some number crunching on the "large amount" Christie Clarke is wiling to "give" it means peanuts to the individual school and to the children who need it most!